AFTER more than five years of waiting Mansfield Town finally ended their long wait for three Football League points with a 1-0 victory at Wycombe on Saturday.
And, judging by the confident and commanding display, Stags will be enjoying many more victories in their first season back in the league.
Substitute Ollie Palmer pounced on a loose ball inside the six-yard box to score a 78th minute winner and, in the process, claim his first ever goal in professional football.
The win was nothing more than dominant Stags had deserved in a game which saw the visitors boss the second half and starve Wycombe of any real possession and goal-scoring chances.
While Wycombe faltered to get into any creative stride, apart from just before half-time when Alan Marriot denied Paris Cowan-Hall and Josh Scowen, Mansfield created a number of good chances to break their goal drought.
James Jennings nearly put Mansfield ahead on 10 minutes when his fierce volley was tipped over the bar acrobatically by Matt Ingram after the ball had fallen free on the edge of the box.
Sam Clucas, who showed glimpses of the top quality and vision he possesses before he was subbed on 69 minutes, should have scored for the visitors on 30 minutes when Calvin Andrew rose well to head a Clements cross back across goal.
But Clucas failed to get enough purchase on his header and nodded the ball wide of Ingram’s left post.
Yet Stags appeared to grow in condfidence as the game progressed and came out after the break with a hunger and desire which Wycombe were simply unable to live with.
Clucas was denied on 52 minutes after a bustling run down the right flank by Ben Hutchinson gave him a sight at goal.
But Clucas, faced with a tight angle, was tracked well by Anthony Stewart who blocked his effort out for a corner.
Jennings was then denied a deserved goal for Stags on 56 minutes after one of many sweet passing moves by on-song Mansfield carved the home defence apart.
But Jennings was again denied by a smart save from Ingram before McCoy bravely dived to block Jennings’ follow-up strike.
But, as the visting fans began to wonder if the goal was ever going to come, sub Ollie Palmer cropped up in the right place at the right time to turn home a loose ball after Martin Riley had cracked a header against the post to seal an historic win.
The way in which Stags won will no doubt have pleased boss Paul Cox as much as the result itself.
After some shakey moments against Scunthorpe and Tranmere, Stags have now kept two clean sheets in a row with the defensive trio of Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton and John Dempster all looking solid.
In a game of many positives, Paul Cox will also have been particularly pleased with the displays of Jennings, Clucas, Clements and McGuire, who gained a firm grip in the middle of the park and provided a firm springboard for the constantwave of second half attacks.
Ahead of the season many fans asked, can there be life after MattGreen? On Saturday, the answer was very much so.
Of course, Stags still need a 20 plus goals a season striker, a role which may yet be filled by Palmer as he gains games and experience.
But, either way, the workrate of Calvin Andrew alongside Ollie Palmer getting his first goal and the power and combative skills of Hutchinson and Rhead all give Paul Cox plenty of options up front and plenty of reasons for Stags to be positive about the season ahead.
Mansfield Town: Marriott, Sutton, Beevers, Dempster, Riley, Clements, Clucas (Palmer 69 mins), McGuire, Jennings, Hutchinson (Howell 93 mins), Andrew (Rhead 74 mins). Subs not used: Mitchell, Stevenson, Tafazolli, Meikle.
Referee: Keith Hill, Hertfordshire.
Stags man of the match: James Jennings.