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Match report: Mansfield Town 4-0 Northampton Town

Mansfield Town v Northampton'The Stags celebrate the first half goal.
Mansfield Town v Northampton'The Stags celebrate the first half goal.

Mansfield Town cruised to three much-needed points with a comfortable 4-0 win over Northampton Town at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.

Stags grabbed a fifth minute lead through a brilliant solo effort by Timi Elsnik.

Too often this season they have let a lead slip, but today they were dominant after the break and could have ended up with many more than the three they added through Rose (57 and 87 minutes) and CJ Hamilton on 82 minutes.

The first half was a poor spectacle, but Stags boss David Flitcroft will be delighted to see his side up a gear after the break to dispatch a poor Cobblers side, who still have only one win all season.

Mansfield were without midfield dynamo Alex MacDonald.

He picked up a knee injury last weekend and has been told he will need an operation that will sideline him for the next six weeks.

Derby County loanee Elsnik replaced him to make his first League Two start for the Stags.

Striker Craig Davies had shrugged off a hamstring injury to make the bench.

The visitors made one change with Billy Waters replacing Matt Crooks, who had picked up a knee injury.

Mansfield made a positive start and Bishop picked out Rose with a fourth minutes cross, but the striker’s header lacked power and direction.

On five minutes the visitors won the game’s first corner, but it led to Stags grabbing the lead.

Rose headed the corner away to Elsnik on the left and he simply broke away from box to box where he stroked a perfectly-placed low finish across keeper Cornell and in off the inside of the far post.

Rose then set up Hamilton for a shot that deflected wide for the first home corner.

On 17 minutes players from both sides clashed after Barnett caught Danny Rose in the head with what home players felt was an elbow, but, with home fans chanting ‘off’, the referee decided to only show a yellow card in the end.

Mansfield were lucky on 24 minutes when Bishop was beaten by the bounce of the ball and Northampton broke away three on three, the ball finally rebounding off Foley in front of goal straight to a grateful Olejnik.

Another Cobblers break saw good play from Waters to release Van Veen into space only for the visitors’ top scorer to send a powderpuff effort at Olejnik.

Van Veen was then booked on 35 minutes for leaving a foot in as Sweeney went to clear down the left.

In the first of two added minutes Olejnik finally had to make a real save as Van Veen broke into the left side of the box and, from a tight angle, made the keeper save with his feet.

Then in the second of those minutes Rose cued up Elsnik for a fierce drive that was heading for the top corner until Cornell turned it over for a corner.

From that Cornell then made a great reaction save to keep out Preston’s powerful close range header as Stags ended a scrappy half with their noses in front.

On the restart Khan wasn’t too far over with a shot from almost 30 yards, and four minutes later he forced Cornell to tip over a 25 yard free kick.

Taylor was lucky to stay on the field on 52 minutes after a foul on Rose, as the whistle went he dived into a tackle on Elsnik which looked worth more the yellow he was given.

Walker forced a close range save from Cornell from a Pearce nod-down as the home side tried to turn the screw a minute later.

On 56 minutes Elsnik whipped in a wicked ball with pace from the left that Walker was unable to turn on target from six yards before O’ Toole was booked for dissent.

But the pressure was made to count on 57 minutes as Rose doubled Mansfield’s lead with his persistence.

Never-say-die Rose initially won the ball wide on the right and, when it broke towards the keeper, he won the initial challenge with Cornell and then managed to steer the ball into the empty net from the tightest of angles.

A deflected Walker cross saw Cornell gather but then collide with his far post and only just keep the ball from crossing the line.

Barnett, already booked, was given a final warning for a shove on Rose that halted a possible home break, then Cornell had to get in the way of another Rose finish as the ball flew loose in the box.

With 16 minutes to go Atkinson replaced Walker, going to right back as Stags switched to 4-4-2 with the pacey Hamilton pushed to right wing.

Rose was too high with a first time finish from Hamilton’s first cross from his new position.

Enjoying their afternoon now, the home side won three corners in a row, Bishop’s flicked header forcing a save from the second of them.

The third goal came with eight minutes to go after tremendous possession work by Hamilton. He fed Rose who sent Hamilton into the box on the right and he somehow squeezed home a finish under the keeper at the near post.

Benning was booked for time wasting on 85 minutes as he cleared the ball after the whistle had gone.

It was then 4-0 on 87 minutes as Rose bundled home from 10 yards from a Hamilton cross from the right.

Davies and Butcher were sent on for Khan and Elsnik near the end while Benning forced a late save with a long range free kick as Stags ended a splendid afternoon on the front foot.

STAGS: Olejnik; Preston, Pearce, Sweeney; Hamilton, Bishop, Khan (Davies 88), Elsnik (Butcher 90+1), Benning; Rose, Walker (Atkinson 74). Subs: Logan, Gibbens, Sterling-James, Graham.

NORTHAMPTON: Cornell, Buchanan, Odoffin, Barnett, Taylor, Hoskins, Foley, Van Veen (Williams HT), Bowditch (Bridge 67), Waters, O’Toole. Subs: Ward, Facey, Pierre, Turnbull, Pollock.

REFEREE: Trevor Kettle of Rutland.

ATTENDANCE: 4,550 (485 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Danny Rose.