Saturday, 31st January 2015: Carlisle United 2, Mansfield Town 1

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Two goals in nine second half minutes condemned Mansfield Town to slip into the League Two drop zone after a 2-1 defeat in today’s six-pointer at fellow strugglers Carlisle United.

Home fans were at the ground early to clear snow off the surface to enable the game to go ahead.

But Stags must have wished they hadn’t bothered as they saw an interval lead wiped out in a much better second half from the Cumbrians.

On a freezing cold afternoon, the first half had little to keep the crowd warm, but Stags grabbed a precious lead right on the stroke of half-time through a Vadaine Oliver header.

At this stage Mansfield keeper Adam Smith had not had a save to make.

But United upped the ante in the second half and when Stags failed to clear a free kick on 72 minutes, Charlie Wyke was able to level.

Worse was to come nine minutes later as Reggie Lambe lost the ball in a Stags attack and a swift break ended with Kyle Dempsey sweeping home the winner.

It left Stags, who were poor after the break, slipping into the drop zone with a return to the Conference a growing concern after only one win in 11 games.

There is also worry over new signing, winger Matty Blair, who was stretchered off after 69 minutes.

There was a surprise in the Mansfield side as recent signing Billy Kee was left out. Kee hasn’t looked fully fit since arriving, but was getting better game by game.

Stags were also without midfielder Chris Clements who has failed to receive from illness in time.

In came Reggie Lambe and Simon Heslop. There was also a place on the bench for teenage youth team midfielder Joe Fitzpatrick.

Stags almost made the perfect start as, within 30 seconds, Brown fed Lambe on the right and his far post cross was headed over by Oliver.

Oliver then headed clear a Grainger free kick in United’s first threat.

Then Smith just managed to grab a Tafazolli backheader before Wyke could sneak in and intercept.

Blair tried to send Brown on his way down the left, but the move was thwarted by an offside flag.

From a long throw from the left Rigg had a header blocked on nine minutes, Ravenhill playing it safe and conceding the first of two home corners.

Tafazolli headed away a long Grainger throw. The ball was then laid wide to Potts who drilled a powerful cross in front of goal where Rigg just failed to connect with a diving header that would have put United ahead.

There was a scare on 23 minutes as United enjoyed a spell of pressure and Rigg poked the ball into the net from 15 yards, but the whistle had already gone for a foul.

Mansfield’s response saw Ravenhill loft the ball in for Oliver, who helped it on to Lambe. However, his finish was poor, weak and wide.

Home skipper Grainger tried his luck from distance but was wildly off target on 28 minutes.

Ravenhill was on target with a 30 yard free kick, but it lacked venom and was low and straight to keeper Gillespie.

A Grainger free kick from the right somehow found its way through everyone at the far post with three home players queuing up, the ball coming off Smith for a corner.

Blair got to the home by-line on the right but was unable to pick out Brown with his low pull-back as United cleared the danger.

It had been a tense first half with neither keeper really tested so far.

United’s fourth corner arrived on 37 minutes, taken short, and when Dempsey finally put it over, O’Hanlon headed wide.

Back came Stags and Oliver set up Brown, who cut inside before screwing a terrible finish well wide off the outside of his right boot.

A minute from the break United wasted the best chance so far as a Dempsey corner dropped for Archibald-Henville seven yards out and he hooked a hurried finish over the top.

The game finally exploded into life with a goal for Mansfield in the 45th minute.

Lambe seemed to take his time about crossing from the right, but swapped to his right foot and sent the ball to the far post where Oliver got up well and powered home a header off the inside of the post.

United was a corner immediately on the restart. And they almost scored.

The corner was pulled bizarrely way back to Grainger who lofted it back forward. Stags called for offside but the flag stayed down and Dempsey forced Smith to parry a powerful on-target blast.

On 50 minutes Dempsey burst into the box and the ball ran for Potts who blazed a rising shot over the bar.

Wyke was furious on 56 minutes after Smith’s challenge on him in the box sent him tumbling to the turf, United winning only a corner.

A half cleared long Elder throw saw Lambe snatch at a volleyed chance and send it well over as Stags got forward for the first time on the hour.

Grainger was well over with a follow-up after a Carlisle corner was half-cleared. Before play could restart treatment was needed for Elder, who had stayed down after the corner.

Young was well over the far angle from well out on the right soon afterwards,

On 66 minutes Helsop became the first player in the book for persistent fouling.

Three minutes later Stags lost new signing Blair with what looked a serious injury,

He held his arm up straight away as he went down after a challenge and, despite the home crowd’s booing, on came a stretcher and his afternoon was over.

He was replaced by Kee while Carlisle sent on Amoo for Potts.

United finally broke through with a 72nd minute equaliser.

A Grainger free kick was sent over long from the right and, as everyone went up for it, the ball dropped invitingly for Wyke to steer home low from close range.

Stags might have gone back ahead on 76 minutes, but Lambe’s cross from the right was behind an unmarked Oliver five yards from goal.

Raynes was too high with a header from a long elder throw.

With 12 minutes to go, ex-Stag Asamoah replaced Rigg.

And a minute later the home side were ahead after a swift counter-attack.

Lambe was slow in taking control in the home half and robbed by Amoo, who began to race away.

Ravenhill tried to hack him down, but he stayed upright and fed Wyke, who drew Smith before rolling a pass to Dempsey to hit the empty net past a defender on the line.

Kee had a first time shot deflect wide for a corner for the increasingly desperate visitors. Lambe floated it in and Raynes got his header on target only to see Gillespie turn it aside for another corner.

Six minutes were added on in which Lambe tried a hopeful long range effort that Gillespie easily smothered to his left.

CARLISLE: Gillespie, Grainger, Archibald-Henville, Meppen-Walter, Potts (Amoo 69), Rigg (Asamoah 78), Dempsey, O’Hanlon, Wyke (Sweeney 90), Young, Griffiths. Subs not used: Kearns, Beck, Brough, Hanford.

STAGS: Smith, Sutton, Tafazolli, Ravenhill, Heslop, Lambe, Blair (Kee 69), Brown (Brown 85), Oliver, Elder, Raynes. Subs not used: Studer, Riley, McGuire, Marsden, Fitzpatrick.

REFEREE: Mark Haywood of West Yorkshire.

ATTENDANCE: 3,827 (192 away)