MATCH ANALYSIS: Mansfield Town 3 Newport County 0
Patience – not just by the players, but also from the fans – was the key to Mansfield Town’s eventual 3-0 success against bottom club Newport County at One Call Stadium on Saturday.
With two away wins in succession under their belt, it would have been easy for people to believe the struggling Welsh club would be easy pickings for the Stags.
But, with new manager John Sheridan at the helm, even Stags boss Adam Murray admitted he had no idea what they would be up against, personnel or formation-wise.
So to see the Stags persist in their measured approach at finding a hole in the Newport defence and to see fans stay behind them and clap them off at half-time, despite the game remaining goalless, was exactly the positive foundation Mansfield needed for a highly successful second half.
Anxiety and panic were kept at bay by players and supporters and the reward came within five minutes of the restart as Stags bagged one of three memorable goals to make it an ultimately miserable return to the area for the former Spireites manager.
Most people left the ground talking about Mal Benning’s stunning 20 yard volley, his second in as many games.
Perhaps as magnificent as the finish was the accuracy and vision of Jack Thomas who, with other options in the box, chose to pull back a floated pinpoint pass to Benning from the right that set up one of the best goals ever seen at the ground.
That killer second goal came 20 minutes after Craig Westcarr’s superb opener when Jack Thomas had again been the architect as he cushioned Benning’s cross over a defender for Westcarr to smash home from seven yards.
But two minutes before Benning’s crucial second, Brian Jensen had once more earned his corn with a crucial save as he spread himself to deny Alex Rodman after he had been sent clear by fellow sub Scott Boden.
Jensen is not having much to do in games, but his concentration levels are magnificent.
He also pulled off two more saves to prevent Charlton loanee Zak Ansah finding a Newport lifeline before Adi Yussuf scored the third in stoppage time.
Again it was two subs combining as he turned well on a Mitch Rose pass before stroking home a low finish inside the right post for his second goal in as many games.
Janoi Donacien may have done better with his header from a 16th minute corner for the Exiles.
But Joe Day was by far the busiest keeper as he kept out efforts from Reggie Lambe and Benning, also denying Matt Green at the far post with his legs from a close range header.
After the break he again thwarted Green with a tip-over from a shot on the turn and kept out a Ryan Tafazolli header from a corner.
Briefly during the game, the BBCK web site showed Stags sat proudly in second position.
They ended the day in fourth, one place outside automatic promotion, and who could have dreamed of more than that with a quarter of an impressive season already gone?