A SUPERB brace from winger Lindon Meikle helped Mansfield Town finally secure their first three points of the season at Kidderminster on Saturday.
After starting their Blue Square Premier campaign in disappointing fashion, Paul Cox’s men showed their trademark grit, determination and attacking flair to seal an excellent win.
It had looked like it was going to be another bad day at the office for Stags when Kidderminster, who are still looking for their first point of the season, took the lead in the eight minute through Jack Byrne after Stags poorly defended a corner.
Kidderminster also led 2-1 after beginning the second half well and taking the lead through a deflected strike from the always dangerous Marvin Johnson.
But Stags, who displayed a better balance after reverting back to 4-4-2, showed the fight demanded by boss Paul Cox as they levelled at 1-1 through Matt Green on 44 minutes and at 2-2 through Meikle on the hour mark.
And the battling display got its just reward when Meikle beat the offside trap before rounding Lewis and confidently firing home into the empty net on 80 minutes to seal victory.
It was a much improved display from Stags with the power of Green, the arial power of Rhead and the pace and trickery of Meikle causing constant danger.
Paul Cox will also be heartened by Stags improved defensive display with the team looking much more solid for large parts of the 90 minutes.
The win leaves Stags, who entertain Hyde at the One Call Stadium on Saturday, 16th in the early BSP table.
Boss Paul Cox made four changes and reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation as he looked for a response to the midweek horror show at Gateshead.
Defenders Ritchie Sutton and John Dempster came into the team at the expense of Pilkington and Owens.
The experienced Andy Todd was also been named in the starting eleven in place of Jamie Tolley, while big target man Matt Rhead partnered Matt Green up front.
Defensive power house Exodus Geoghaghon was named as Kidderminster captain as he sought to inflict further woes onto his former club.
Stags’ defensive frailities were once again cruelly exposed after just eight minutes when Kidderminster opened the scoring.
Some neat build up by the home side saw James Vincent twist and turn smartly on the edge of the box before unleashing a curling shot, which was well saved by Alan Marriott at full-stretch.
But from Marvin Johnson’s resulting corner an unmarked Jack Byrne rose well from seven yards to head home despite the efforts of Lindon Meikle on the post.
Harriers continued to keep up the pressure on Stags with some good passing football and could have doubled their lead on 14 minutes when Mike Williams tried his luck from distance.
The confident home side, also looking for their first points of the season, should have doubled their advantage on 20 minutes after Johnson threaded a beautiful ball into the path of Anthony Malbon.
But, with just Marriott to beat, Malbon’s first touch let him down and the chance was gone.
Stags nearly found a route back into the game on 25 minutes when a hopeful ball over the top from Roberts saw Matt Green get goal-side of the Kidderminster defence.
With goalkeeper Danny Lewis rushing off his line, Green attempted a lob but just failed to get enough lift on the ball allowing the shot-stopper to clear the danger.
Jones then headed well wide on 28 minutes from a deep Roberts free-kick as the signs grew that Stags were beginning to get back into the contest.
Howell was then unable to get enough purchase on a header two minutes later after Todd had played the ball into the danger zone following a deep searching cross from Sutton.
The visitors wasted another chance to get back into the game on 39 minutes when Rhead drifted into space before heading Junior Daniel’s cross wide when he really should have hit the target.
But the pressure finally told as Stags levelled just a minute before the break when Matt Rhead’s header back across goal was palmed away by Lewis.
The loose ball fell invitingly into the path of Matt Green, who then had the simplest of tasks to tap into the empty net from two yards out.
It was a just reward for Mansfield’s spirited fight back after falling behind early in the game.
Mansfield were relieved to see the dangerous Johnson flash a low free-kick through a crowd of players and out for a goal-kick as Kidderminster threatened first after the break.
And the Mansfield task got that bit steeper when the home side took the lead on 53 minutes after Johnson once again caused all sorts of bother.
The lively striker cut inside before unleashing a shot from the left corner of the box, which took a wicked deflection to send Marriott the wrong way.
Kidderminster came close to doubling their lead when Geoghaghon, going forward for the first time from a set-piece, headed Johnson’s corner into the hands of Marriott on 57 minutes.
But Stags once again showed the battling spirit Paul Cox had demanded before the game to level the contest on the hour mark.
It was Matt Rhead who was again at the heart of the Mansfield danger after playing a superb ball into space for Green to run on to.
After being harried wide, Green slotted the ball into the path of Meikle, who kept his composure beautifully to jink past two defenders and cooly sidefoot home from six yards for his first goal of the season.
Green and Rhead then combined well down the left flank moments later which saw Lewis beat Rhead’s well hit effort to safety.
The resurgent Mansfield came oh so close to taking the lead for the first time on 70 minutes when Howell saw his goal-bound effort cleared to safety by Geoghaghon after Lewis had been caught out of position.
A minute later Lewis performed heroics to block Meikle’s 16-yard effort with his legs after Green had stayed strong to hold up the ball and play in the winger.
But Meikle was not to be denied his brace on 80 minutes when he burst clean through after good combination play involving Rhead and Wright.
As the home fans roared for offside Meikle showed his finishing prowess to round Lewis and slam home into the unguarded net.
Meikle nearly made the game safe with eight minutes left when he cut in well from the left flank before firing wide from a narrow angle.
Harriers tried their best to get back into the game and came closest in stoppage time when Malborn’s header from a long Geoghaghon throw was comfortably saved by Marriott.
KIDDERMINSTER: Lewis, Storer (Shakes 69 mins), Geohaghon, Williams, Byrne, Vincent, Rowe (Blissett 69 mins), Malbon, Johnson (Pilkington 85 mins), Austin, Briggs. Subs not used: Demetriou, Vaughan.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott, Sutton, Dempster, Jones, Daniel, Howell, Todd, Roberts, Meikle, Rhead, Green (Wright 73 mins). Subs not used: Clemtents, Thompson, Briscoe, Speight.
ATTENDANCE: 1770 (400 away)
MAN OF MATCH: Matt Rhead.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce (Teeside).