Stags 1-0 Newport: Mansfield hold onto early lead to seal victory
Chris Clements early goal sealed a 1-0 win against Newport County as Mansfield made it two wins on the bounce.
The visitors gifted Mansfield the lead after just 90 seconds when poor defending allowed Clements to scramble home Lee Beevers cross.
In truth Mansfield can count themselves somewhat fortunate as Newport recovered from the poor start to dominate the match for vast periods.
Chris Zebroski’s snapshot which was beaten away by Sascha Studer on 19 minutes was saved.
Kevin Freely saw his shot blocked before Robbie Willmott fired wide as the visitors continued to push Mansfield back at the start of the second half.
And the one-way traffic continued as Mansfield desperately hung on at the death.
It could, and perhaps should have been level, as former Stag Aaron O’Connor blew two excellent chances to level.
On another night Mansfield may well have been beaten. But a win is a win and Paul Cox will be delighted to have six points on the board after a difficult opening first week.
Matt Rhead started for Mansfield Town after returning from suspension at the expense of Sam Clucas, the only change for Stags.
And Mansfield got off to the perfect start when Newport made a real hash of clearing Lee Beevers cross allowing Chris Clements to scramble the ball home after just two minutes.
Clememts was at the heart of the danger once again after excellent work from Alex Fisher down the right flank found the midfielder in acres of space on 18 minutes.
But his first-time shot from around 25 yards out only found the palms of Lenny Pidgeley in the exiles goal.
County nearly levelled on 19 minutes after Chris Zebroski turned in the box before firing a close range shot straight at Sascha Studer from Mark Byrne’s corner.
Mansfield were breathing a sigh of relief when Robbie Willmott’s dangerous inswinging cross evaded everyone in the box to go out for a goal-kick on 26 minutes.
Simon Heslop brought the best out of Pidgeley after more good play by Fisher found the midfielder, who enleashed a powerful effort on 28 minutes.
Some brilliant defending by Darren Jones denied what would have been a certain goal for Matt Rhead moments later.
Jones stood solid at the back post to beat Rhead to the ball and head Clements’ corner away to safety as the home side continued to dominate.
Studer then showed good hands as he palmed away Andy Sandell’s curling free-kick on 31 minutes.
Matt Rhead should have sealed the game on 54 minutes, but he blazed over with the goal gaping after Beevers’ pass had split the Newport defence.
Rob Taylor headed Sandell’s cross away for a corner after the Newport wingman’s run down the left had cut open Mansfield.
Kevin Freely saw his shot blocked for a corker on 58 minutes as Newport continued to push Mansfield on the back foot.
Robin Willmott fired well wide from 28 yards on 63 minutes despite having plenty of time and space to do better.
Clements failed to make the most of great chance when he was played through on goal on 70 minutes.
But he lacked the necessary conviction and composure as he turned back inside before seeing his curling effort saved by Pidgeley.
Former Stag Aaron O’Connor hit a fierce effort inches wide in the closing stages as County knew it was not going to be their night.