Saturday, 19th January 2013: Southport 1 Mansfield Town 2

LEE Stevenson was the hero for Mansfield Town today as his second goal in five days saw the Stags come from behind to make it four successive away league wins in their game at snow-bound Southport.

But Lee Beevers also produced a crucial goal line clearance near the end to deny the in-form Sandgrounders , who had only lost once in their previous eight games, a point.

On a wintry afternoon, the visitors were caught cold by a sixth minute Shaun Whalley strike.

But captain Adam Murray ended a lengthy league goal drought to level on 19 minutes as Mansfield took a firm grip on the game and unlucky not to be ahead by the break.

However, the goal finally arrived when Stevenson netted on 54 minutes to push Paul Cox’s men to eighth, three points off the play-off spots with three games still in hand.

Stags were unchanged from the team that triumphed 3-1 at Stockport in midweek.

Many games fell victim to the weather today, but the Sandgrounders’ Haigh Avenue pitch survived a morning inspection after snow, left on overnight to protect it from frost, was cleared by an army of volunteers.

Southport were not permitted to play on-loan Stags duo Andy Owens and Godfrey Poku.

A scrappy start saw Daniel lift a hopeful 35 yard effort well over on three minutes.

But when Stags lost possession via a loose pass from Stevenson in the middle of the park, the home side punished them with an early goal from their first attack.

There seemed little danger when Moogan spread the ball to Whalley on the right. But he teased and drew defenders before lashing a superb finish across Marriott and inside the far post.

When Stevenson conceded a free kick in the centre circle, Moogan cheekily tried to lob Marriott but was well over the top.

Another promising Whalley run ended with Tames miscontrolling his final pass in a central position and the moment was gone.

Home keeper mcMillan finally had work to do on 17 minutes as Beevers crossed into the middle from the left and Green rose to glance a six yard on target which McMillan was able to grab.

However, the visitors were level on 19 minutes thanks to a powerful run to the by-line down the left by Daniel.

He was able to pull a low ball back into the path of Murray whose first effort was blocked on the line but rolled back to him to make no mistake at the second time of asking.

It was the skipper’s first league goal since April 2011.

A superb move from Stags saw Howell switch play to the left where Beevers fed Daniel into space for a cross-cum-shot from a tight angle that McMillan smothered.

Southport forced their first corner on 24 minutes which saw Marriott fist the ball away as far as Whalley who squared a quick pass to Moogan whose half-volley was straight down the keeper’s throat.

Howell sliced horribly wide from outside the box at the other end a minute later.

Stags’ first corner, taken by Murray, saw Dempster miskick and swing at fresh air before Daniel appeared behind him to lash over.

The home side quickly countered and Tames got down the right and drilled a firm ball across the six yard box with Whalley unable to reach it.

Another away corner was headed clear at the near post.

Then Stevenson was not too far over on 33 minutes with an effort from the left hand corner of the box.

From a long throw by Beevers, both Stevenson and Howell had efforts blocked, then McMillan confidently claimed another Murray corner.

But this was much better from the visitors.

The keeper had to leave his box to clear before Daniel could capitalise on Murray’s through ball as the pressure stayed firmly on the Sandgrounders.

Another Murray corner reached Dempster at the far post who laid the ball back for Stevenson who tried a delicate curling finish towards the far angle but was narrowly wide.

Daniel was in good form down the left, forcing McMillan to come for and grab two crosses then over-hitting a third.

More late pressure from Stags ended with them conceding a free kick in the home box as they ended the half well on top but unable to make the pressure count.

Southport forced a corner straight from the restart which saw Marriott come for the ball but, uncharacteristically, let it through his grasp which saw the visitors unable to punish him.

Southport tried to get the visitors onto the back foot, but it didn’t last long as Mansfield again began to ask the questions.

And on 54 minutes they took the lead with Stevenson’s second goal in five days.

Howell carved out the chance with a cutting pass down the middle that saw the midfielder control and turn to lay a low, perfectly-placed finish back across the keeper into the bottom corner.

Daniel was booked for a clattering late tackle on Benjamin on 58 minutes.

A neat move down the left saw Stevenson cross hard and low into the middle where Meikle seemed to control with his hand but was allowed to spin and get in a shot that deflected wide for a corner.

Stags almost extended their lead on 66 minutes as Green played a one-two to get in to the box and fired in a shot that McMillan parried. Green then squared the loose ball towards Stevenson who slipped at the vital moment and was unable to get there. As it was half-cleared again, Sutton eventually fired inches over from 25 yards.

On 72 minutes Tames was cautioned for a late tackle on Beevers as the full back cleared, Tames’ last action as he was subbed seconds later.

Mansfield really needed that all-important third goal. And it seemed it may come as Jones rose well to meet a corner from the right, but he failed to get any power or direction on it.

Whalley then left Meikle for dead with hiss pace and raced into a dangerous position on a break down the right only to then float the ball behind tamely for a goalkick.

There was worry on 80 minutes as Marriott again came for but failed to claim a corner and sub Joyce saw Beevers clear his finish off the line.

Four minutes from time there was another let-off for Mansfield as Ledshaw drilled in a low shot which Akrigg turned inches wide of the near post from five yards out.

Briscoe replaced the outstanding Daniel a minute from time in what was becoming a nervous finish for the visitors.

Three minutes were added on at the end in which Meikle got a shot on the turn on target but straight at McMillan.

A minute later Briscoe got his first run and saw his rocket shot come back off the crossbar – the final action of another highly-satisfyling away afternoon for Paul Cox’s men.

SOUTHPORT: McMillan, Smith, Willis (Bakare H/T), Grand, Parry, Akrigg, Tames (Joyce 72), Benjamin, Whalley, Ledsham, Moogan (Chalmers 79). Subs not used: Hibbert, Lynch.

STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Jones, Beevers; Murray, Howell, Stevenson; Meikle, Green, Daniel (Briscoe 89). Subs not used: Rhead, Wright, Clements, Thompson.

REFEREE: Chris Kavanagh of Lancashire.

ATTENDANCE: 804 (80 away).