OPINION: Fans flock back as Stags serve up the entertainment

Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United.'Shaquile Coulthirst provides the cross for the Stags' first goal.
Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United.'Shaquile Coulthirst provides the cross for the Stags' first goal.

Mansfield Town moved into the play-off places on Saturday with a 4-0 hammering of Hartlepool.

The improvement in performances by the Stags since the turn of the year has been remarkable, with six wins and a draw in seven games, and just one goal conceded, culminating in the biggest win of the season against Pools.

The crowds are starting to return, there were 4,000 home fans on Saturday, helped of course by the great offers from John and Carolyn Radford of buying one ticket and getting one free.

But also the word is going around that under Steve Evans the Stags are really playing some fine and entertaining football.

There is a palpable buzz around the club and the atmosphere in the ground on a matchday has been wonderful in the past few games.

A word must go to the ground staff who did a great job getting the pitch in very good condition after a very cold couple of nights and a light snowfall overnight on Friday night.

They had the pitch covers on, and then cleared the snow off the covers before removing the covers themselves.

The big scoreboard was also back working and was hugely improved from a few weeks ago, with a better sized stopwatch and the score, plus relevant updates like the attendance, scorers etc.

On the pitch, the Stags played very well in spells on Saturday and always looked comfortable, though also looked capable of going up a gear and in truth weren’t at their best throughout. Once again it was Ben Whiteman, on loan from Sheffield United, who stole the show with another fabulous performance.

The Stags scored twice midway through the first half.

Firstly, Hayden White and Shaq Coulthirst exchanged a series of passes on the right, before Coulthirst got to the byline, pulled back into the middle, and the ball came back to Whiteman, who fired into the net from 12 yards.

The second goal started with a great tackle by Mal Benning on former Stag Nathan Thomas to win the ball inside his own half.

Benning pushed forward into the Hartlepool half, laid off to Danny Rose, who was dispossessed but immediately charged down Matthew Bates.

The ball rebounded off Rose towards the goalkeeper, but Rose got to the loose ball first, took it around the keeper and rolled into the empty net - terrific from Benning, who is starting to get back to his best, and great pace and a clinical finish from Rose.

With Hartlepool ineffective against a rock solid Stags defence, 2-0 looked comfortable, but the win was sealed with a fine goal from substitute Alex MacDonald on his home debut just five minutes after coming on.

A good ball from Benning put MacDonald away just inside the Hartlepool half.

MacDonald moved forward and fired a low shot into the bottom left corner from 22 yards - a tremendous finish.

Then Whiteman scored his second to make it 4-0.

Matt Green laid off to the overlapping MacDonald, who stood up a delightful left footed cross, perfect for Whiteman to head downwards towards the goal, a deflection off a defender taking it past the keeper.

The outstanding Whiteman nearly had a hat-trick when he intercepted a stray-pass from former Stags loanee Sean Kavanagh, surged forward, and fired a tremendous shot which produced an equally tremendous one-handed save from the goalkeeper.

A great statistic from club historian Paul Taylor was that the first goal on Saturday was Mansfield’s 3000th Football League goal at home.