Mansfield Town fight back from behind to win at Hartlepool United to end 2022 on a high

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Mansfield Town ended 2022 on a high and in the play-off spots as they stretched their unbeaten run to four games with a hard-fought comeback 2-1 win at Hartlepool United.

It was a first away win at the Pools since 2014 and on that day former West Ham and Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood scored for the hosts.

Livingstone loanee Jack Hamilton fired United in front in the first half.

But a Nigel Clough masterstroke turned things around.

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Oli Hawkins celebrates his winner at Hartlepool. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.mediaOli Hawkins celebrates his winner at Hartlepool. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
Oli Hawkins celebrates his winner at Hartlepool. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Substitute George Lapslie came on in the first half, to replace the injured Ollie Clarke, and pulled the strings thereafter.

He provided both assists as Rhys Oates and Oli Hawkins fired the Stages to victory and kept them in sixth but, with Northampton losing at home, the gap to the top three has now narrowed to five points.

Manager Clough named a much-changed side to the one which drew with Northampton Town on Boxing Day.

Clough made five changes as Lucas Akins, James Perch, Ollie Clarke, Kieran Wallace and Will Swan replaced Kellan Gordon, Stephen Quinn, Riley Harbottle, Hiram Boateng and Lapslie.

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The Stags started brightly as Clarke tested Ben Killip with a powerful effort early on.

And the returning skipper had another chance to put the visitors ahead when his low effort whizzed past the post.

But they were undone by a set piece down the other end as Hamilton headed home his first league goal for the club on 19 minutes from a Cooke corner from the right.

Swan squandered a great chance to grab a quick leveller at the near post before Clarke was replaced by Lapslie due to injury.

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The Stags were fortunate not to be two behind before the break as Josh Umerah smashed into the side netting.

Stags switched from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 at the break, pushing the towering Hawkins up from the defence into the attack, and the visitors then struck shortly after the restart as Lapslie’s pinpoint through ball sent Oates on his way, and he kept his composure to blast home his first league goal since August against his former club.

And the complexion of the game was turned on its head on the hour mark as Lapslie did well to slip his man to reach the right by-line and find Hawkins with a low pull-back to neatly nestle his effort into the bottom corner.

Swan could have put the game to bed in stoppage time only for a good save from Killip.

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HARTLEPOOL: Killip, Menayese, Shelton (McDonald, 58), Ferguson, Sterry (Missilou, 63), Sylla, Featherstone, Tumilty, Cooke, Umerah (Grey, 74), Hamilton. SUBS NOT USED: Boyes, Paterson, Odour, Hastie.

STAGS: Pym, Hewitt, Hawkins, Perch, McLaughlin, Clarke (Lapslie, 30), Maris (Hartigan, 80), Wallace (Quinn, 45), Swan, Oates, Akins (O'Toole, 88). SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Gordon, Boateng.

REFEREE: Martin Coy.