MANSFIELD Town returned to winning ways in the league with two second half goals in four minutes earning them a deserved 2-0 success at Tamworth on Saturday afternoon, reeports John Lomas.
Ashley Cain, his first career goal, and Louis Briscoe, his 10th of the season, were the marksmen on a wet afternoon at The Lamb as the Stags prepared for Tuesday’s big FA Trophy quarter final replay with a good performance.
It was a first BSBP win in five games and a first clean sheet in nine for Mansfield as they rarely looked in any trouble against an unambitious Lambs side who got what they deserved on the day.
Tamworth went with one striker at home and failed to seriously trouble the visiting defence until they were behind and added a second striker and an aerial barrage.
It was a largely scrappy and ill-tempered game that will be remembered only for the two quality goals, the second a fine solo effort from Briscoe.
Stags made one change with Spence coming in for only his second start for the club at left back in place of Stonehouse.
The Lambs included former Stags striker Perry in their starting line-up with ex-Stags pair MacKenzie and Bradley on their bench.
Stags won an early free kick on the right which Cain put into a good area but no one was able to get a finish on.
Briscoe then comfortably headed away the home side’s first corner at the near post.
The next chance in a scrappy game saw Smith’s tackle in the Tamworth box saw the ball break invitingly for Briscoe but he delayed his finish a split second too long and allowed Sheridan to dispossess him.
Daniel Bradley offered a threat down the left when Naylor sold himself into an unsuccessful challenge, allowing the Tamworth man to cut inside and rifle a dipping shot over the top.
A loose pass from a home defender gifted the ball on 21 minutes to Moult who quickly put Connor away on goal, keeper Mitchell doing well to spread himself and block.
There was a hold-up on 29 minutes when both sides began a shoving match after Naylor pushed Sheridan in the back and he swung round, got the wrong man, and shoved Murray. But no cards were shown.
Cain wasted another corner, failing to clear the first man, then Briscoe did well to get to the right by-line and drilled the ball low into the box, again no one there to capitalise.
Stags came close on 39 minutes when Briscoe got a glancing head onto a Cain corner and the ball was hooked over at the far post from close range by Moult who, with back to goal, couldn’t quite find the target.
Tait saw his 11th yellow card of the season for his challenge on Spence on 41 minutes but could have seen a red one. Tait had been on a good run down the centre into the box but, when Spence made the tackle, the Tamworth man followed through and left Spence in agony.
Spence dusted himself down to go on an exciting run down the left and, just as it seemed he may have won a penalty, the loose ball spun towards Briscoe who sliced a shot over the bar.
Stags finally had the ball in the back of the net on 45 minutes only to be thwarted by an offside flag
Moult threaded a lovely ball through to Connor in front of goal and he produced an instant lay-off for Briscoe to sweep home a low finish.
So a largely disappointing half ended scoreless with Stags enjoying the better of things down The Lamb’s sloping pitch and all of the game’s few openings without a final product.
Mansfield won a fourth corner in the opening minutes of the second half but once again Cain failed to beat the first man.
As the drizzle continued to fall, Silk was booked for leaving a foot in on Thomas in what was becoming an increasingly niggly match.
A great through ball from Briscoe almost put Moult in, but the ball bounced too high for him to be able to get it under control and the moment was quickly gone.
However, Stags were knocking the ball around well at this stage and were rewarded with the opening goal on 65 minutes.
It was created by a superb left wing cross from Moult who dipped the ball towards the middle of the six yard box where Cain nipped in to sweep the ball first time past Mitchell.
Mansfield were gifted a break when the referee got in the way of Smith and the ball broke for Cain who tore downfield before setting up Moult for a curling effort just wide of the far post.
Moult again looked dangerous as Mitchell raced out his box to beat him to a through ball.
The Lambs finally offered Perry some support as they brought on a second striker in Jason Bradley.
But seconds later Mansfield had a 2-0 lead in the 69th minute.
It was a splendid solo effort by Briscoe as he picked the ball up on the right of midfield, worked his way across to the left hand side of the box and sidefooted a calm, accurate low left-footed finish out of the keeper’s reach and inside the post.
Tamworth forced two corners either side of a ferocious scramble as the home side began to pile on the pressure.
Smith’s foul on Murray saw the yellow card brought out for a third time.
The Stags wall did its job from a centrally placed free kick as Barrow’s initial kick was blocked and Courtney flashed the follow-up well wide.
Grof, largely unemployed all afternoon, then had to make a fine save from Daniel Bradley’s powerful cross-cum-shot from the left that threatened to dip in under the bar.
Mitchley was given the last nine minutes in place of Moult and almost immediately almost got Connor away, the ball catching under the striker’s feet and Connor unable to take it on.
A Daniel Bradley cross almost dropped in at the far post seconds after Grof failed to take a cross from the left as Tamworth pushed gamely forward with the minutes ticking down.
Grof fisted away a well-struck 20 yard free kick from Smith with three minutes to go, Daniel Bradley well over from 25 yards a minute later as Stags held on to well-deserved clean sheet.
TAMWORTH: Mitchell, Tait, Courtney, Wylde, Smith, Perry, Thomas, Sheridan (Kamara 75), D. Bradley, Barrow, Wilkinson (J. Bradley 69). Subs not used: Mitchell, MacKenzie, Christie.
STAGS: Grof; Silk, Sandwith, Naylor, Spence; Cain, Murray, Thompson, Briscoe; Connor, Moult (Mitchley 81). Subs not used: Marriott, Foster, Nix, Smith.
REFEREE: Mr K. A. Woolmer of Northants.
ATTENDANCE: 1,162 (378 away).
CAUTIONS: Tamworth – Tait 41, Smith 75. Stags – Silk 54.