Match report: Notts County 1-0 Mansfield Town

Match action from today's derby
Match action from today's derby

Craig Mackail-Smith's 19th minute volley proved enough for bottom club Notts County to win the big local derby at home to a disappointing Mansfield Town in today's lunchtime kick-off at Meadow Lane.

The Luton loanee won overall man of the match as he led the Stags a merry dance on an afternoon when the visitors simply failed to get into gear, despite almost 4,300 away fans cheering them on.

Stags arrived second with the chance of going top.

But, despite their bottom place, the Magpies are a very different animal after eight January signings and four points from their previous two games and simply looked like they wanted in more on the day.

It could have been even worse for the visitors as new boy Ben Turner was lucky not to see a red card for bringing down Mackail-Smith after only nine minutes as he looked set to go clear.

This was a first defeat at Notts in a league game in nine visits and over 21 years for the below-par Stags, who failed to test home keeper Ryan Schofield all afternoon.

It was also a second defeat in a row for David Flitcroft's men and piles the pressure on them for next weekend's visit of Forest Green.

The Mansfield side saw two changes, both in defence.

There was a surprise debut for new signing, centre half Turner who was said to have no chance of being fit in the week.

He came in to replace the suspended Ryan Sweeney.

There was also a full debut for right back Gethin Jones with striker Nicky Ajose dropped to the bench and CJ Hamilton pushed up into an attacking role.

Turner had his first touch in a Stags shirt within seconds of kick-off, heading clear with O'Brien then smashing a hopeful 35-yard effort well over.

But before the opening minute was out, Stags' first raid forward ended with Walker sending a dipping shot inches over from 25 yards.

There was controversy on six minutes as Mackail-Smith almost wriggled clear onto a quickly-taken Doyle free kick only to be pulled down by Turner on the edge of the box.

Notts wanted a red card but the debutant defender escaped with a yellow and O'Brien's free kick hit the wall.

Benning's deflected shot won a ninth minute Stags corner from which Bishop headed over from the far post.

County grabbed the lead out of nowhere on 19 minutes. Stags failed to clear a Milsom cross and the loose ball bounced invitingly 20 yards from goal and Mackail-Smith caught it perfectly on the volley to beat Smith low inside the left post.

Notts had their tails up now and soon after Forest loanee Gomis cut in from the left and shot into the sidenetting.

Turner's header was too high from Grant's second corner as Stags continued to search for parity.

On 28 minutes Mackail-Smith got goalside of Turner again and it took a fantastic sliding block by Preston to prevent Gomis finding the net.

Stead's foul on Bishop on 31 minutes saw County earn their first yellow card of the afternoon.

Great persistence from Boldewijn on 33 minutes saw him finally get in a low shot that Smith had to deal with.

A Stead header then dropped inches wide of the post a minute later from a Rose cross, and soon after Mackail-Smith fired over as County continued to dominate.

Smith also had to grab a Rose shot that reared up from hitting the turf from another home corner as Notts went in well on top.

Stags upped the attacking ante at the break as striker Ajose came on for defender Turner, Stags going to a flat back four, and he soon made an impact, glancing a header wide.

This was much better from the Stags and on 51 minutes Hamilton dipped a shot over after swapping passes with Ajose.

Mellis was booked for stretching into a tackle on 59 minutes that sparked a brief pushing melee between the sides.

After a good start to the half for Mansfield, Notts have begin to turn the screw again and the home side have forced three quick corners.

MacDonald, a surprise inclusion on the bench after a lengthy injury spell, was thrown in to replace Mellis on 54 minutes.

The match continued to be stop-start with a succession of fouls and little in the way of chances, though on 74 minutes Boldewijn fired over after being set up by Gomis' pass.

O'Brien was narrowly wide of the far post with a volley on 79 minutes after a headed clearance sailed towards him – the closest we'd come to a goal all half.

Boldewijn was added to the book on 81 minutes for a foul before Notts made a double change for fresh legs with seven minutes to go at which point Stags sent on Khan for Benning too.

Pearce became the next man in the book on 85 minutes for bringing down Mackail-Smith.

In the four added minutes Preston came up with the tackle of the game as sub Alessandra tried to break clear.

Unlike last year there was to be no fairytale late leveller for Stags as the final whistle brought ear-shattering celebrations around three sides of Meadow Lane.

NOTTS COUNTY: Schofield, Barclay, Gomis (Hemmings 83), Boldewijn, Stubbs, O'Brien, Milsom, Rose, Mackail-Smith, Stead (Alessandra 83), Doyle. Subs not used: Fitsimons, Tootle, Bird, Hewitt, Vaughan.

STAGS: J. Smith; Preston, Pearce, Turner (Ajose HT); Jones, Mellis (MacDonald 54), Grant, Bishop, Benning (Khan 83); Walker, Hamilton. Subs not used: Logan, Atkinson, Tomlinson, A. Smith.

REFEREE: Lee Mason of Bolton.

ATTENDANCE: 12,660 (4283 away).