Mansfield Town chalked up a timely first away win of the season with a 2-1 success at Exeter City this afternoon.
Rakish Bingham crowned a fine debut for the club with the opening goal and Fergus Bell’s screaming finish for his first League goal had Stags 2-0 up and in the driving seat by half-time.
Exeter, without a win and having only scored two goals all season, had a mountain to climb after their poor first half showing.
But, to their credit, they dug deep and England U20 international Matt Grimes pulled one back with a fabulous free kick on 67 minutes.
However, the Stags, under fire from fans in midweek after a third straight defeat, did a professional job of seeing out the match and lifted some of the pressure on boss Paul Cox.
Bingham, the 20-year-old former Wigan striker, who joined Stags on Monday, lined up alongside Matt Rhead up front with Alex Fisher dropped to the bench.
Also coming in were Fergus Bell, Lee Beevers and Jamie McGuire at the expense of Chris Clements, Rob Taylor and Simon Heslop, who were all on the bench.
Exeter provided the first threat on three minutes, but Cummins’ header was always looping well over from Wheeler’s by-line cross from the right.
City then won the first corner of the game on seven minutes. It was overhit by Oakley over everyone but then sent back over from the other flank by Woodman, Evtimov causing worry as he went to claim it but failed and was relieved to see it hooked clear before a home player could punish him.
Exeter eventually managed to clear their lines after Tafazolli had nodded on a Murray free kick into the home box.
A neatly-worked free kick from the home side then teed up Woodman for a 25 yard blast from a central position that took a deflection for a corner.
Instead Bingham marked his debut with the opening goal on 14 minutes.
Bingham created the danger himself with a pass to Bell to his right.
Bell got away a powerful low shot that Pym blocked, diving to his right. But the ball ran loose and Bingham was there on hand to slot it home past the helpless Pym, who was in goal for England U20s the night before.
It was almost 2-0 on 19 minutes as Bingham again created a shooting chance for Bell whose low effort took a deflection that spun the ball wide of Pym’s dive but also wide of the post.
A low Tafazolli shot from another Murray free kick won Stags another corner. It was cleared out as far as Bell who put the ball back in, Pym spilling it as he tried to catch it, but the Grecians surviving.
Exeter were offering little threat in open play and also letting themselves down with set pieces. A push from Tafazolli on the right offered them a chance to get the ball into the box, but Oakley again overhit the ball and it went into touch on the far side
Stags twice threatened as first Bingham’s initial touch on a great pass down the centre from Murray took him too wide, then a Beevers ball went through everyone for a goalkick.
Tafazolli won an important diving header to cut out a dangerous home cross and concede a corner.
Bingham should have doubled his tally on 36 minutes. Rhead flicked on an Evtimov clearance down the centre and it left the youngster one on one with Pym. But the keeper managed to get in the way of his low finish.
Three minutes later Beevers was afforded time and space outside the box for a curling low effort that was always going wide.
But the second goal arrived for the Stags on 40 minutes.
It stemmed from a Murray corner on the left which was met by the head of Tafazolli.
The ball dropped for Sutton whose first time blast was blocked, but the ball rolled just outside the box where Bell swept home a superb first time finish that gave the keeper no chance.
In stoppage time, Stags almost added a third on the counter attack as Rhead’s flick set Bingham on his way, the youngster cutting inside from the left to get away a rising shot that took a deflection for a corner.
The home side were booed from the field by their fans as the whistle went with Mansfield firmly in control.
City changed things round at the break with Grimes, who had played for the England U20s the night before, replacing Baldwin.
There was early as Riley conceded a free kick just outside the box, just left of centre, but the wall stood firm and did its job as Sercombe’s shot flew straight at the line of black shirts.
Soon after Ribeiro might have done better when he was picked out with a left wing cross for a free far post header that, instead of going for goal, he bizarrely tried to head the ball back into the path of a team mate and, with no one there, Stags were able to easily clear.
Bingham got a lucky break 25 yards from goal to take the ball forward and send Marsden to the byline, Pym able to smother his low cross.
Stags were left to defend with 10 men for a few minutes after Sutton limped off. Sercombe might have taken advantage with a shooting chance, but he delayed his shot to the anger of the home fans and Riley was able to get in the way when he eventually tried his luck.
Taylor, left out due to illness, was eventually forced to come on in the 56th minute, Beevers dropping into the back three and Taylor playing left wing back.
Beevers conceded a free kick almost on the left by-line from which Woodman drilled it hard and fast through everyone, just needing it to hit a body.
Another swift Mansfield counter-attack saw Bingham find Rhead who clipped a very tame low finish wide of the target.
Wheeler’s low shot came off Riley’s block for a corner from which Bell threw himself into the path of a Sercombe shot which left him on the floor needing treatment. Bell was unable to continue and on came Heslop for the last 25 minutes.
Taylor was booked on 67 minutes for a foul on the right. And from that City gained the lifeline they desperately needed as Grimes’ left foot whipped a tremendous free kick across Evtimov and into the far top corner.
Nichols was added to the book on 71 minutes for a high foot in a challenge on Marsden.
Bingham’s sparkling debut ended with 12 minutes to go as he was replaced by Palmer to warm applause from home and away fans alike.
Evtimov successfully held onto a dangerous cross from the right as we entered the last 10 minutes with Stags continuing to keep Exeter at bay.
Home players and fans were furious when Keohane went past four challenges to the edge of the box but was pulled back for a free kick for an attempted foul on him seconds before, denying him the chance to get in a shot.
Keohane was wide with a low 20 yard shot as the minutes ticked away.
Stags had a half-chance as a long Marsden throw reached the near post where the ball dropped for Heslop to blast a snapshot well over from a very difficult angle.
In the penultimate minute there was an almighty shout from the home side and supporters behind the goal for a penalty against Tafazolli. He had put the ball behind for a corner in the box but City felt he had put it out with his hand. All they ended up with was a corner.
Stags’ time-wasting tactics near the end earned Exeter six minutes of stoppage time in which to save the day.
They almost managed it in the first of those six minutes as Keohane met a low cross pulled back from the right with a vicious first time blast from 18 yards that flew over the Mansfield bar.
More home pressure followed with Grimes off target from 20 yards.
As we entered the final minute, with Stags playing keep-ball superbly, Heslop won a corner.
The gae ticked over into a seventh minute in which a long hopeful ball into the box saw Woodman send a looping header well over the top as the whistle finally went.
EXETER: Pym, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin (Grimes HT), Ribeiro (Keohane 64), Sercombe, Oakley, Moore-Taylor (Nichols 64), Wheeler, Nicholls, Cummins. Subs not used: Hamon, Butterfield, Davies, Tillson.
STAGS: Evtimov, Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli, Marsden, Murray, McGuire, Beevers, Bell (Heslop 65), Rhead, Bingham (Palmer 78). Subs not used: Fisher, Clements, Studer, Thomas.
REFEREE: Tim Robinson of West Sussex.
ATTENDANCE: 2,771 (137 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Rakish Bingham.