Here’s five things we learned from Newport County v Mansfield Town

Mansfield Town came away from a controversial game at promotion rivals with a 1-1 draw on Saturday. Here are five things we learned from a thrilling afternoon.

Monday, 21st February 2022, 9:56 am
Players begin to pile into the second half melee at Newport. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
Players begin to pile into the second half melee at Newport. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

1: First half wastefulness made it a harder afternoon than needed

Mansfield Town completely dominated the first half and should have gone in two or three goals to the good at least.

Promotion rivals Newport could hardly get out of their own half as Stags produced some superb football only to fail to add the finish.

Mansfield Town forward Lucas Akins holds the ball up superbly at Newport. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

When a side has so many opportunities and doesn't score you always feel it will come back to bite you on the backside later in the game.

So it proved as Stags hung on desperately for a point at the death.

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2: Lucas Akins is a magnificent signing

Stephen Quinn keeps the ball in play. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

January arrival Lucas Akins had his best afternoon in a Mansfield shirt playing the extremely tough solo striker role away at a tough place like Newport.

Still not 100 per cent match sharp, he was simply magnificent, holding the ball up to bring the five man midfield into play and causing havoc for the home defenders.

Some fans are still convinced Jordan Bowery has been unlucky to lose his shirt to Akins after some fine displays, and they do have a case.

But both strikers will play a huge part in the remaining games and, being versatile utility players, that could yet be anywhere on the pitch.

The team celebrate their deflected second half goal at Newport. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

3: Stags fans are enjoying their side's style of play

Win, lose or draw, Mansfield Town are certainly entertaining their fans this season home and away.

Nigel Clough's positive front foot style is pleasing on the eye and even opposition fans admit it's great to watch.

Stags aim to take the game to opposition from the off, play fast, fluid, intelligent passing and also have the option to hit the front man and back him up quickly.

Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin in action. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

When out of possession they press and hunt the ball down tirelessly and continue that right through the 90 minutes.

If they win nothing this season they will at least win a lot of friends throughout League Two.

Newport can testify to that after chasing shadows for much of the first 70 minutes.

4: Indiscipline proved so costly on Saturday.

After 72 minutes of the game at Newport Stags were 1-0 up and firmly on top only to shoot themselves in the foot with three crucial players suddenly losing their discipline.

Mansfield Town defender Elliott Hewitt wins the header. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

It started with Oli Hawkins needlessly delaying a Newport throw and winding up an opponent which provoked a free for all.

Within that John-Joe O'Toole wrapped his arm around a Newport player's throat to keep him away from Hawkins as all hell broke loose.

The end result was a booking for Hawkins that he knew would see him suspended for two games and a red for O'Toole that will see him miss three crucial games.

Just when Stags needed to then steady the ship, the most experienced player on the field, Stephen Quinn, lost the plot over a dodgy penalty decision and has to be subbed before he was sent off, arguing with the referee, opponents, team mates and possibly the Newport tea lady as he stormed off to the dressing rooms just when he was most needed.

How costly the actions of those three players will prove in the long run remains to be seen.

5: In the grand scheme of things it was still a point gained.

Nigel Clough said it was definitely two points lost at Newport on Saturday - and that was understandable given the circumstances and how the game was going before the melee and the penalty.

But Newport have proved formidable rivals to the Stags down the years and to come away from their ground with a point is still a good point in anyone's books.

Not only did it keep Mansfield within touching distance of the top three, it also elbowed Newport out of the play-off places below them.

To know you can go away somewhere as hostile and tough as Newport and play your promotion rivals off the park should be a great confidence booster for the Stags in this final run-in.

Midfielder George Maris pushes through the Newport defence. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
Stags first team coach Andy Garner discusses the second half controversy with referee Will Finnie following the full time whistle at Rodney Parade. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger