MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 3-0 Crewe Alexandra
Mansfield Town finally saw off plucky strugglers Crewe Alexandra by a 3-0 scoreline at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
New boy Yoann Arquin gave Stags the perfect start with a fifth minute goal, and when Ben Whiteman made it 2-0 just after half-time it seemed likely a side with just two wins in 20 games might wilt.
Instead they threw everything at it with a gutsy display and caused scares, but Mansfield held firm with Kyle Howkins immaculate in the centre.
Rhys Bennett, who had missed two earlier chances, then finally made the points safe with six minutes to go with the third.
Mansfield were unchanged which meant home debuts for the four new signings, Jake Kean, Arquin, CJ Hamilton, and Whiteman.
Jack Thomas replaced Kevan Hurst on the bench with Hurst off with illness.
Stags were aiming to end an unwanted run of not scoring at home in the first half all season, and it took them just five minutes in the end.
Crewe, who were unchanged for a fourth successive game despite skipper Ryan Lowe returning from injury, had won just twice in 20 matches.
After a quiet opening Mansfield snatched a fifth minute lead to end that home hoodoo.
Benning crossed from the left to the far post where Whiteman nodded down into the danger area. Crewe struggled to clear and Arquin was finally there to steer the loose ball home from seven yards.
Three minutes later Arquin sent a header just over the bar from Stags’ first corner, taken from the left by Joel Byrom.
On 15 minutes Whiteman curled a 25-yard free kick straight at Garratt as Stags continued their promising opening to the game.
Two minutes later Bakayogo found space to move forward quickly and let fly from long range, Kean watching it all the way to smother to his right.
Crewe were lucky to get away with another scramble on 23 minutes, but as they cleared the ball, Whiteman flew it late on Cooper and was shown a yellow card for his troubles.
Crewe wanted a penalty on 25 minute as Bennett challenged Bakayogo, but the Crewe man, in full flight, took a long time before he went down and the referee was eventually unimpressed.
Dagnall also stayed down looking for a penalty a few minutes later with even less chance of it being given.
Crewe star Lowe was brought into the action at the break for Kiwomya.
Stags might have gone 2-0 up within 30 seconds of the restart as Hamilton got to the line on the left and pulled back a low cross which found Benning unmarked on the far side of the box only to crash his finish into the sidenetting.
But it was 2-0 on 48 minutes. This time Hamilton cut into the box from the left and tried to shoot. The effort was blocked but Whiteman hit the loose ball first time at goal from 18 yards and it seemed to fly through the hands of keeper Garratt into the net for his first senior goal.
It might have been three soon after as Green raced into the box, but he lost control and ran the ball into touch.
A neat move down the right then saw Arquin pick out Whiteman to his left for a low curling shot that Garratt had to save.
On 55 minutes Kean had his first real test as Cooper turned well on the edge of the box and curled a shot towards the bottom corner that the keeper did well to scramble wide.
The visitors did not wilt and instead poured forward in search of a lifeline.
Stags made a switch up front with Danny Rose on for Green on 61 minutes and two minutes later missed a great chance to kill the game off.
Byrom’s shot from just outside the box was well saved by Garratt and Bennett somehow sent his follow-up wide as Garratt tried to block.
Whiteman whipped another 25 yard free kick just wide on 68 minutes as Stags searched for a killer third, before Mansfield had a let-off on 76 minutes as a Crewe corner was put back into the box and a scramble saw Kean have to push the ball away from his line.
On 77 minutes Baxendale replaced Whiteman for the home side, but Crewe turned up the heat and a neat link-up saw Bingham pull a low shot wide of the far post.
Mansfield finally grabbed the all-important third goal on 84 minutes.
Baxendale swung in a fine corner from the left and Bennett prodded it home at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked.
Arquin was immediately replaced by Clements for the final six minutes.
With the last kick of the game Clements forced Garratt to save his 30 yard free kick as Mansfield were clapped off for a fine home start to 2017.
STAGS: Kean, Bennett, Pearce, Howkins, Benning, Collins, Whiteman (Baxendale 77), Hamilton, Byron, Green (D. Rose 61), Arquin (Clements 84). Subs not used: Shearer, Hoban, Thomas, McGuire.
CREWE: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Davis, Jones, Dagnall, Cooper (Ainley 69), Bakayogo, Bingham, Kirk, Kiwomya (Lowe HT). Subs not used: Richards, Ray, Nugent, Hollands, Udoh.
REFEREE: Mark Brown of Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,040 (226 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Howkins.