PATIENT Stags left it late to snatch a 1-0 victory over struggling Histon on Saturday with Paul Connor breaking through with a 92nd minute winner.
It wasn’t the best of displays in a dour game but Connor’s 13th goal of the season did the trick and assistant boss Paul Hall said: “We said to the boys that a football match is won over 90 or 92 minutes and that proved to be the case today.
“We were lacking that bit of a spark today, though Ashley Cain did provide it for a short time with his crosses. But the spark came late through Paul Connor and it was enough for three points.
“Paul is a very good player and valuable to us. I know there has been interest in him but I think it’s good when there is interest in your players as it means you must be doing something right. We certainly want to keep him here.
“It was hard today. When a team comes here and plays 10 men behind the ball it is difficult. No matter what the quality of the opposition you still have to knock them down.
“It was our first clean sheet for a long time which shows how hard the boys are working. From shipping fives and sevens we are improving every week. We let in two last week and now we have the clean sheet we wanted.
“Back to back wins have been a problem for us of late so that was important too. Now we must build on that.”
He added: “I think everyone in the ground thought Keigan would shoot with the keeper at his mercy with that early chance. For whatever reason he made the decision he did.
“A more confident Keigan would have slid the ball home. But, even when he isn’t scoring you know he will always work hard and run through brick walls for you.”
Stags kept faith with reserve keeper Neil Collett, giving him his full league debut, and he responded with a clean sheet, doing what little he had to do very well.
“I was very pleased with that after the gaffer had kept faith in me,” he said.
“I didn’t really expect it though I hoped I would keep my place after waiting patiently for about a year.
“I don’t think I have done myself any harm today and was pleased with my overall game.
“It was about 35 minutes in before I had to come for a cross and only had one real save to make which was a low shot that was always going away from me, so it was nice to get a hand on it.
“I believe I could keep the shirt. Why not? I am a quietly confident young lad. Keepers’ careers don’t take off until they are 23/24 and I am only 21 so time is on my side.
“I hope I can keep my place for next week and help move us up the table.”
Stutes manager David Livermore said: “I am very disappointed not to get something out of the game after the work rate and effort we put in.
“But the stats showed we did not threaten the opposing goal enough and we let them get in too many crosses.
“When you have to defend that many crosses the pressure builds and that’s when mistakes creep in which is what happened right at the end when Mansfield scored from a set piece.
“As a player you must always make sure you stick with your player.
“It is tough for us right now. We are losing games in which we haven’t played too bad which, apart from two or three games, has been the story of our season. It is a recurring theme.”