MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 2-0 Forest Green Rovers
Mansfield Town finally saw off the challenge of League new boys Forest Green Rovers thanks to two goals in six second half minutes to win 2-0.
Up until then it had been a frustrating afternoon as Rovers’ spoiling tactics had made life difficult for Steve Evans’ men.
But quality told in the end with home keeper Conrad Logan with only one real save to make all afternoon right at the end as Stags chalked up their first win of the campaign at the third attempt.
It was an historic day for Rovers, being their first ever away Football League match, and they arrived determined to go home with at least a point.
Their time-wasting and getting everyone behind the ball in the first half frustrated the home side and crowd, though Lee Angol and Paul Digby were denied by good saves from Bradley Collins.
But Danny Rose broke through on 51 minutes and when the superb Paul Anderson, pipped to man of the match only by a sterling 90 minutes from Hayden White, doubled the lead on 57 minutes, it was all over for Rovers.
Mansfield made two changes. David Mirfin had a slight knee injury from midweek so Krystian Pearce came into the centre of defence while Digby, who impressed against Rochdale in the midweek Carabao Cup tie, replaced Jacob Mellis in central midfield.
Stags had made six midweek changes for the Carabao Cup tie against Rochdale.
Forest Green gave a first League start to West Brom loanee defender Jack Fitzwater.
Diamond made a great block on Doidge six yards from goal as he tried to get on the end of a fourth minute cross from Bennett from the right as Rovers made a positive start.
But Angol should have scored for Stags on five minutes as, having robbed Lee Collins 25 yards from goal and raced clear, he was unable to beat Bradley Collins with his finish, the keeper standing tall and getting his body in the way.
Lee Collins made amends as he produced a perfectly-timed tackle on 13 minutes as Rose tried to race clear.
On 16 minutes the whistle had already gone for offside well before Doidge turned a long forward ball past Logan.
A clash of heads between Byrom and Cooper held the game up. Both were able to continue but Stags fans were angry when the game restarted with a free kick to Forest Green which saw Lee Collins head over at full stretch at the far post.
Rovers were putting in some robust challenges and getting men behind the ball to frustrate the home side.
But on the half-hour Mansfield came so close as Digby got in a powerful on-target header from a Byrom corner, only to see Bradley Collins make a superb save to his right.
There were huge cheers from the stands as former Notts County midfielder Noble was booked for tripping White on 36 minutes.
Rovers’ time-wasting was finally punished on 39 minutes when Bradley Collins took far too long taking his kick and out came a yellow card.
But the visitors had done enough to keep the game at 0-0 by the break.
After a quiet start to the second half, Stags went close again on 50 minutes. White found Digby on the right and his ball into the box was helped on by Rose, sending the ball narrowly wide of the far post.
But two minutes later Rose broke the deadlock. Atkinson floated in a cross from the right to the far post where Rose got up superbly well to steer a header between keeper and post.
Suddenly it was all Mansfield and Rose dribbled through the defence and saw his finish saved, Bennett then clearing Anderson’s follow-up off the line.
Seconds later Rose headed wide at the far post from a corner.
But on 57 minutes the lead was doubled through Anderson.
He broke into the box on the left from a long ball and saw Bradley Collins get down well to block his first finish but slotted it home at the second attempt.
On the hour Sterling-James replaced Angol for fresh legs up front for Stags.
Benning saw the first home yellow card for catching Noble in a challenge on 62 minutes.
Traore was added to the book for hacking down White a minute later.
Anderson wasn’t too far over from 20 yards from a half-clearance as the home crowd began to enjoy the afternoon and a few minutes later his little touch in front of goal from a low Rose cross again passed narrowly wide.
With 20 minutes to go Rose left the field to warm applause as Spencer was given a run-out.
An offside flag was up before Spencer rounded Bradley Collins and netted within two minutes of coming on.
Rovers finally won their first corner of the game with 14 minutes to go, but Stags defended it well.
Bradley Collins was safely behind Digby’s low drive on 79 minutes as the home side played the ball about with confidence.
Mullings was booked for a retaliatory push on Digby seconds later.
Potter joined the action for the last two minutes in place of Atkinson.
Potter quickly got the better of Monthe who was booked for holding him back a minute into the added five.
A great block by White to deny Mullings from close range a a comfy save for Logan from a Noble shot ensured the deserved clean sheet at the death.
STAGS: Logan, White, Pearce, Diamond, Benning, Atkinson (Potter 88), Digby, Byrom, Anderson, Angol (Sterling-James 60), Rose (Spencer 70). Subs not used: Olejnik, Bennett, Mellis, Hamilton.
FOREST GREEN: B. Collins, Fitzwater, L. Collins, Monthe, Bennett, Laird (Wishart 82), Traore (James 63), Cooper, Noble, Doidge, Brown (Mullings 55). Subs not used: Russell, Marsh-Brown, Bugiel, Evans.
REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of East Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,826 (147).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Hayden White.