MATCH REPORT: Late goal spoils first game in charge for Graham Coughlan as Mansfield Town are held by Northampton Town

Harry Smith spoiled Graham Coughlan's first game as Mansfield Town manager with an 84th minute equaliser in an exciting 1-1 home draw with Northampton Town this afternoon.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 2:03 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st December 2019, 5:03 pm
Mansfield's keeper Bobby Olejnik clears from Northampton's Vadaine Oliver
Mansfield's keeper Bobby Olejnik clears from Northampton's Vadaine Oliver

But the Stags were much improved on recent outings, showing far more bite and urgency and the home fans responded accordingly with a superb wall of noise.

It seemed Andy Cook might be their hero when he lashed Mansfield in front on 74 minutes.

But, after CJ Hamilton has wasted a chance to double the lead when he crashed an inviting loose ball over the bar on 82 minutes, Smith stole in to grab a point for the Cobblers and leave Stags without a win in seven games but full of renewed heart and vigour.

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The new boss made two changes with Rose in up front in place of Maynard and Tomlinson in for the injured Shaughnessy in midfield.

There was also the welcome and unexpected sight of Davies on the subs bench after a year of ankle problems.

Stags stayed in last week's 4-4-2 formation but with MacDonald on the left and Hamilton on the right.

The Cobblers, managed by former Mansfield boss Keith Curle, included a couple of familiar faces in ex-Stags Oliver and Anderson.

Mansfield almost conceded a shock opener after only 15 seconds as the visitors strode immediately forward and Hoskins smashed a 15-yard shot against the home crossbar.

Wharton and Sweeney both needed treatment after a challenge but both were fit to continue after a lengthy break.

Mansfield began to find their feet and get the home crowd behind them and a spell of pressure ended with Tomlinson whipping a 25 yard volley just wide on eight minutes.

The Cobblers threatened again on 12 minutes as Anderson floated the ball to the far post from the right and Adams saw Olejnik beat away his vicious finish.

Hamilton tried to set Stags on an immediate counter but was tripped by McCormack to earn the Northampton man a booking.

On 18 minutes Cook helped on a MacDonald ball into the box and Rose sent an overhead kick straight at Cornell.

Then on 24 minutes Watson saw a low shot deflect wide from a poor clearance and, from Adams' corner, Wharton sent a header just over the bar.

Soon after Watson lifted a ball in towards the far post which Olejnik had to claw from under his own bar as the visitors continued to have the edge.

A fast Stags break down the right from Tomlinson's accurate pass sent Hamilton away with Cook heading over from his eventual cross.

Tempers flared on 35 minutes as Clarke slid into a tackle on Adams with a yellow card eventually shown after things calmed down.

Turnbull left a foot in on Hamilton three minutes later to get his name added to the book.

A minute from the break Cook again flicked on for Rose but his scuffed finish was easy for the keeper as the half ended goalless.

Bishop had a low shot blocked early in the second half before Anderson was booked for wiping out Hamilton in a late, sliding challenge on 57 minutes.

That brought a free kick which Benning curled in front of goal and Preston poked narrowly wide from close range.

Mansfield were suddenly buzzing again and MacDonald fired over from distance as the home fans began to turn up the volume.

Clearing a corner, Stags broke well on 61 minutes, Clarke finding Hamilton, who cut inside Harriman before firing narrowly wide.

Maynard took over from Rose up front on 68 minutes.

Turnbull had hold of Cook and pulled his shirt right in front of a linesman on 72 minutes. But nothing was given and Cook was booked for protesting.

However, Cook was all smiles two minutes later as he received a Benning throw from the left, turned and slammed home a low shot between keeper and near post from 25 yards.

Maynard was too high from Benning's ball in soon after with the noise from the stands deafening.

Smith sent a tame header at Olejnik as the Cobblers looked for a reply while Preston headed a Benning free kick over the top, MacDonald headed wide from a Hamilton cross and Hamilton blazed a loose ball over as Northampton clung on.

But there was a sting in the tail on 84 minutes as Adams sent a high ball into the box and Smith sent a looping header over Olejnik and under the bar.

Seven minutes were added at the end in which Bishop and Preston were booked for halting Northampton breaks.

STAGS: Olejnik; Clarke, Preston, Sweeney, Benning; MacDonald, Tomlinson (Smith 80), Bishop, Hamilton; Rose (Maynard 68), Cook (Davies 82). Subs not used: Logan, Pearce, Khan, Knowles.

NORTHAMPTON: Cornell, McCormack (Williams 62), Goode, Turnbull, Hoskins, Watson, Adams, Wharton, Oliver, Harriman (Martin 80), Anderson (Smith 62). Subs not used: Arnold, Hall-Johnson, McWilliams, Warburton.

REFEREE: Alan Young of Cambridgeshire.

ATTENDANCE: 4,496 (474 away).CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Andy Cook.