Mansfield Town slump to fifth straight defeat going down 3-1 at Walsall
Mansfield’s poor run of results continued as they slumped to a fifth successive defeat in all competitions with a 3-1 reverse at Walsall.
Defensive mistakes abounded, with centre-halves Elliott Hewitt and Richard Nartey at fault for both of George Miller’s goals for Walsall, while the Stags again conceded from a set-piece in between.
Substitute Danny Johnson lashed home a late consolation to hand the noisy band of 1,008 travelling fans some cheer, but the defeat drops Mansfield to 20th in League Two.
Ryan Stirk and Tyrese Sinclair replaced suspended pair Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn after the pair’s red cards at Harrogate, but boss Nigel Clough resisted the temptation to make further changes.
The Stags were behind after only six minutes, Miller twice outmuscling Hewitt from a speculative high ball, before drilling past an exposed Nathan Bishop from just inside the box.
Town’s response was good as Rhys Oates’ near-post strike was turned aside by Walsall keeper Carl Rushworth, who then produced a superb save to tip over Oli Hawkins’ glancing header.
In between, however, Mansfield almost slipped two behind, Miller beating Town’s ill-timed offside trap and unleashing a rasping 25-yard volley that crashed back off Bishop’s bar.
But the reprieve was only temporary as the Stags’ set-piece struggles again reared their head. This time Ash Taylor rose highest in the six-yard box to bullet home a header from Jack Earing’s 22nd-minute corner.
Only Bishop prevented the deficit being irretrievable by half-time, producing a superb reaction stop to thwart Brendan Kiernan in time added on after he outpaced Nartey to a ball over the top.
Clough hauled off Hewitt and Oates at the interval, bringing on Farrend Rawson and Johnson, but the Stags’ misery was deepened just three minutes into the second half.
Nartey was the culprit this time, crumbling under pressure from Miller and left appealing for a foul that would never come as the Walsall striker raced on to coolly slide his second past Bishop.
Bishop later denied Miller his hat-trick with a smart near-post save before Mansfield finally came to life in the closing stages.
George Lapslie’s 25-yard volley was beaten away by Carl Rushworth, before the away end erupted as a free-kick dropped to Johnson, who lashed home from around eight yards.
Walsall: Rushworth, White, Taylor, Monthe, Ward, Kinsella, Earing, Phillips (Perry, 90), Kiernan, Shade (Osadebe, 72), Miller. Subs not used: Rose, Leak, Mills, Willis, Bates.
Stags: Bishop, Gordon, Hewitt (Rawson, 46), Hartley, McLaughlin, Stirk, Maris (Bowery, 62), Lapslie, Oates (Johnson, 46), Hawkins, Sinclair. Subs not used: Shelvey, Burke, Charsley, Law.
Referee: David Rock
Attendance: 5,203 (1,008 away)