Mansfield Town slip out of play-offs after defeat to Accrington Stanley

Mansfield Town's Mal Benning is given a red card and sent off
Mansfield Town's Mal Benning is given a red card and sent off

Accrington Stanley’s amazing jinx over Mansfield Town continued today as the visitors went back to the top of League Two with a 1-0 victory against the 10-men Stags.

It was always going to be an uphill afternoon after Mansfield had Mal Benning dismissed after just 13 minutes for a high tackle on ex-Stag Billy Kee.

But Rhys Bennett and Kane Hemmings did miss gilt-edged chances before Seamus Conneely popped up unmarked to head home a corner on the hour.

That proved enough to win the game and left Stags without a League victory over Accrington in 14 attempts.

It was a sixth game without victory for Mansfield and left new boss David Flitcroft without a win in his first five games in charge.

Stags showed a lot of passion and endeavour in an exciting and hard-fought clash but losing Benning so early was always going to leave them hamstrung.

Stags also had assistant boss Ben Futcher sent off for abuse of the referee on the half-time whistle.

Top scorer Danny Rose failed to recover from his ankle injury in time.

With skipper Krystian Pearce suspended and Joel Byrom dropped to the bench, that meant Flitcroft made three changes for the big Good Friday clash.

In came Zander Diamond, Jacob Mellis and CJ Hamilton as fading Stags looked for a first win in six games.

Pre-match fans applauded special guest, Stags legendary goalscorer Ken Wagstaff as he waved from the pitch.

Mansfield began in thrilling fashion on the front foot and Stanley were glad to scramble away a dangerous early Hamilton cross coming in low and fast from the left.

Then on two minutes Angol sent a vicious shot at Chapman which the keeper had to tip over.

But the visitors showed how dangerous they were as Jackson outpaced Bennett down the right and flashed a shot into the sidenetting on six minutes.

Two minutes later Logan was forced to turn away a powerful Brown shot after a half-clearance reached him invitingly.

The benches clashed and players on the field squared up after a high tackle from Benning on Kee on13 minutes.

Once the dust had settled the referee produced a red card and Stags were really up against it.

From the eventual free kick Logan fisted McConville’s on-target effort away.

There was more danger as Clark fed Jackson for a near post shot that Logan saved and Clark then saw his follow-up deflect wide for a corner.

The home fans were roused by a Stags corner which saw Angol head the ball back across and then Bennett nod wide.

When play stopped on 32 minutes McConville was booked for a trip on Atkinson earlier in the move.

Stags should have been ahead on 33 minutes when a free kick was helped on to Bennett who, from six yards, saw Chapman turn his powerful on-target header over.

From the corner Angol volleyed wide.

Hemmings and Angol did well with a series of passes between them to get to the edge of the box where Hemmings sliced horribly wide.

Mansfield should have closed down Brown as he ran forward but allowed him to slip a pass to Clark who was narrowly wide with a low finish on 41 minutes.

Jackson then returned a pass to Brown to set him up for a shot that was always rising over as Accrington continued to probe.

Johnson tried to buy a penalty with a blatant dive next to Hemmings but wasn’t even spoken to as play was waved on.

Then a home corner was cleared away to White, whose chip caught on the wind and ended up on top of the net.

Boss David Flitcroft and assistant Ben Futcher were waiting for the referee at the end of a half in which little had gone the home side’s way on decisions and Futcher was sent to the stand for the second half for his opinions.

Stanley began the second half with a corner from which Dunne headed at Logan.

But Stags missed a sitter on 50 minutes as White crossed low from the right and Hemmings sidefooted wide from six yards.

After Mellis was booked on 58 minutes for a trip on Clark, the home side were made to pay for their misses on the hour mark as McConville put over a corner from the right and an unmarked Conneely was free to bury a close range header to break the deadlock.

Kee was wide with a hopeful low shot from 30 yards just before Miller took over from Hemmings in the home attack on 66 minutes.

Stags were unlucky when Miller did well on the right to get into the box and reach the by-line, but no one was there to turn in his eventual low cross right in front of goal.

Then Conneelly made a great interception in the box as Angol looked to spin on Hamilton’s low cross.

Logan kept out an angled Jackson shot with five minutes to go as the home side were almost caught out pushing forward.

STAGS: Logan; White, Diamond, Bennett, Benning; Atkinson, Mellis, MacDonald, Hamilton; Hemmings (Miller 66), Angol. Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Anderson, Hunt, Thomas, Byrom.

ACCRINGTON: Chapman, Dunne, Hughes, Richards-Everton, Clark, Brown, Jackson, McConville, Johnson, Conneely, Kee. Subs not used: Maxted, Nolan, Zanzala, Williams, Sousa, Rowan, Rodgers.

REFEREE: Andy Haines of Sunderland.