Reggie Lambe’s second goal in four days could prove so valuable in the final reckoning as Mansfield Town pulled off a sensational 1-0 win at promotion-chasing Newport County tonight.
Lambe struck three minutes from time from a Callum Elder cross to seal back-to-back wins and ease Mansfield’s relegation worries.
It ended a miserable run of five away defeats and completed Stags’ first double over any opposition since promotion back to the League.
The display fully justified boss Adam Murray’s decision to rest key players and make six changes to freshen it up as they defended superbly with Ryan Tafazolli outstanding.
Stand-in keeper Sascha Studer was well protected throughout, though former Stags midfielder Adam Chapman twice came close to breaking Stags’ hearts in the 85th minute as he forced a good save from Studer and then rattled the crossbar seconds later.
But Mansfield fully deserved at least a point and within two minutes they had all three in the bag.
Lambe struck three minutes from time from a Callum Elder cross to seal back-to-back wins and ease Mansfield’s relegation worries.John Lomas, Mansfield Town reporter
Stags now head into another six-pointer at Cheltenham on Saturday bursting with confidence.
Newport loanee keeper Lenny Pidgeley was not allowed to face his parent club so in came Swiss youngster Studer.
Lee Beevers replaced Ritchie Sutton at right back while in midfield Jamie McGuire and Simon Heslop took over from Jack Thomas and Ricky Ravenhill.
Brighton loanee Jeffrey Monakana was given his second start on the wing in place of Reggie Lambe while Scunthorpe loanee striker Billy Kee was given the central striker’s role in place of Vadaine Oliver and had an excellent game, making a constant nuisance of himself.
Stags were looking to improve on the division’s second worst away record of two wins and three draws.
The night began with problems with the Rodney Parade ticketing system that left queues of fans outside at kick-off and the start slightly delayed.
There was a minute’s applause for club legend Dai Williams.
In the opening exchanges Minshull was late in on McGuire in the centre circle, but Clements free kick was too high for Tafazolli to reach.
On six minutes Stags almost grabbed the lead as Kee forced a save from Day with a fine downward header from Monakana’s hanging far post cross from the right.
Tafazolli twice headed clear, first from a Jackson free kick and then a superb cross from the same player after a good burst of pace down the right.
A long ball forward by Beevers found Kee, who controlled and laid it back into the path of Brown, who dragged a low shot wide from the edge of the box.
Kee tried to get a vital flick on the ball as Brown crossed it low to the near post, but Yakubu’s attentions were enough to prevent him doing so.
Some cool defending from Riley saw him outwit Zebrowski in the chase for a long ball forward.
Tafazolli flicked on a long Elder throw to cause havoc in the box, but Newport managed to clear,
Elder managed to get in the way of a Chapman shot as the home side pressed with a series of passes in the box.
Jackson fizzed in a powerful cross from the right that Studer elected to push away at the last minute as it threatened to deceive him and find its way in.
On 26 minutes Newport won the game’s first corner from which Jones met to head over the far angle.
Jones then seemed to shove Kee in the back in the box, but all Stags got was a corner.
Monakana’s skills then won Stags a second, but like the first, it was cleared.
But Mansfield had reached the half-hour mark with much to be pleased with and had protected Studer well.
Tafazolli’s attempt to help a through ball back to Studer had just enough legs before Storey could pounce.
Then Kee was just caught offside as he tried to race clear onto a stabbed McGuire pass forward.
Kee was too high with a hurried effort from 25 yards as we reached the 40th minute of a largely uneventful half.
A minute later Jones failed to intercept a Beevers cross and it caught Kee by surprise behind him, the ball cushioning off his head to the keeper rather than testing him.
Newport forced two more corners, the first cleared after a scramble and the second producing a foul against the Exiles.
Beevers played a neat ball into the right of the box to release Heslop, who lifted the ball over the keeper’s head only to see it headed away by Yakubu before he could follow it up.
Newport then broke quickly, Jackson winning them a fifth corner, which came to nothing as the half ended 0-0.
County began the second half as the first ended with another corner, taken short but producing nothing.
Studer had work to do on 49 minutes when Minshull got something onto a long, high throw from Jackson from close range, Studer down well to grab.
Riley was penalised for holding Zebroski 25 yards from goal and Byrne sent a decent free kick inches over the right angle.
On 58 minutes Stags made a switch on the wing as Lambe came on for Monakana.
That sparked Mansfield into winning two corners which County defended safely.
Kee turned well onto a McGuire pass on 61 minutes and let fly with a powerful shot that Day did well to hold onto.
McGuire’s fine diving header cleared a Chapman free kick.
Then Kee was well off target with a first time shot at the other end.
Newport won another corner as a low Byrne effort deflected wide, but Beevers was on hand to clear.
Newport broke quickly from a loose McGuire pass, but Zebroski was wildly over from distance.
Thomas replaced Heslop in the Stags midfield for the last nine minutes to offer fresh legs.
More changes for both sides saw Oliver on for Kee on 82 minutes.
On 85 minutes ex-Stag Chapman twice came close.
First his 25 yard blast was turned round the post by Studer.
Then, when Stags couldn’t clear the corner, his rasping first time effort from 18 yards came down off the underside of the bar
Stags were under the cosh. But instead of buckling they went upfield and grabbed a goal with just three minutes left.
Elder sent a long cross over everyone to the far post from wide on the left and Lambe was free to guide it home from close range.
Thomas was booked for a shove on Jackson two minutes into four added minutes.
Newport piled the pressure on as Stags defended heroically, Lambe added to the book.
But McGuire headed clear the free kick and Stags were home and dry.
NEWPORT: Day, Jackson, Jones, Yakubu, Chapman, Minshull (Sandell 69), Zebroski (Parker 82), Klukowski (Porter 72), Storey, Tutonda, Byrne. Subs not used: Stephens, Feely, Howe, Jeffers.
STAGS: Studer, Beevers, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder, McGuire, Clements, Heslop (Thomas 81), Monakana (Lambe 58), Brown, Kee (Oliver 82). Subs not used: Rhead, Bingham, Ravenhill, Sutton.
REFEREE: Andy Davies of Hampshire.
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.