MATCH REPORT: Winning start for Evans as Stags crush Crawley 3-1
Three goals in 10 second half minutes saw Mansfield Town finally shatter Crawley Town's resistance and make it a winning home debut for new Stags boss Steve Evans as they coasted home 3-1.
Stags created a wealth of first half chances without scoring and when Krystian Pearce saw a header cleared off the line early in the second half you wondered if Stags’ home woes were about to continue.
But skipper Chris Clements opened the floodgates on 50 minutes with a seven yard volley and Pat Hoban hammered in a second within four minutes before Clements bagged his second on the hour before a Rhys Bennett own goal gave the visitors an 82nd minute consolation.
It was only Stags’ third home win of the campaign and also their biggest.
With only one fit and available centre half in Pearce, Evans was forced to use right back Rhys Bennett in the centre and draft Mitch Rose in at right back.
Joining Matt Green in a two-pronged attack was Pat Hoban with James Baxendale left out.
Also missing from the side that lost 4-0 in Adam Murray’s final game in charge at Portsmouth last weekend was Kyle Howkins who, along with sub Alex Iacovitti, was sent off at Fratton Park and is suspended.
Lee Collins and Kevan Hurst missed out with injury.
Hemmings played at the top of a midfield diamond with McGuire the holding player.
Crawley arrived without a win in eight games in all competitions while Stags were looking to improve on just one win in 11 League games and a poor home record of just two wins all season.
Stags were given a great reception as they came out onto the pitch and new boss Evans an even louder one as the afternoon began amid an electric atmosphere.
The home side immediately won a central free kick 35 yards out, but Crawley were able to clear.
Then Green put pressure on keeper Morris and his poor clearance reached Hoban who crashed a quick shot over the bar from distance.
Crawley’s first raid ended with Clifford firing well over with a first time shot from 20 yards.
On seven minutes Green got down the right and pulled back a low cross which Hemmings turned on target but without any power and straight to the keeper.
Three minutes later Green saw a low 25-yard shot deflect wide for Mansfield’s first corner which was taken short and wasted after the ball was given away.
On 15 minutes McGuire almost broke through out of the blue with a firm header from 20 yards that sailed just over the angle.
Collins headed over from a Young cross from the right on 19 minutes.
Good pressure from Mansfield on 25 minutes saw Hemmings have a powerful shot blocked and Hoban slip when he shaped up to try a follow-up.
Then McGuire set up Clements just outside the box for a low snapshot that he pulled wide.
Crawley’s first corner came on 32 minutes, but was easily cleared.
Poor defending on 33 minutes saw Hoban in space on the right, but he skied his hurried finish well over the bar.
A minute later a superb crossfield pass by Clements found Gobern, whose low shot skidded wide of the far post.
Connolly, feeling the effects of an earlier knock, finally made way for Davey on 35 minutes.
Stags were angry with the referee as McGuire was fouled by Clifford on 38 minutes, but he whistled quickly with McGuire’s pass finding Bennett is a promising position and the chance was gone as the Crawley man was booked.
A minute later Gobern was narrowly wide with a first time from Benning’s low, curling ball in from the left.
Then Clements was too high with a free kick from almost 30 yards as the home side remained solidly on top.
On 43 minutes Morris made a great save to deny Hemmings. Pearce had nodded on a long Rose ball and Hemmings directed a looping header on target that the keeper had to tip over.
In the second minute of added time Young was booked for bodychecking Benning. But Crawley held firm until the break.
Hoban had a shot deflect wide for a corner in the opening minute of the half.
When that came in, Pearce headed goalwards and Young cleared off the line.
However, on 50 minutes the home side were finally ahead.
Clements began and ended the move as he found Green in full flight to his left. His cross was headed down by Hoban and a poor attempted defensive header fell to Clements who bundled home a half-volley from seven yards.
Benning was booked for a foul soon after the restart.
But on 54 minutes it was 2-0 to the home side.
Hemmings was poleaxed in the middle of the park, but play was allowed to continue and Green sped down the right before picking out Hoban at the far post where he buried an unstoppable volley from six yards.
On 57 minutes Morris had to save with his legs when a Green free kick from 20 yards went through the wall and took a deflection.
But Stags were three up on the hour. Green beat keeper Morris to a ball down the left and spotted Clements to his right in space.
His pass found him perfectly and, with the keeper well out of his goal, the skipper did well to guide his half-volley into the gaping net.
Stags celebrated with a ‘mannequin challenge’ pose.
Baxendale replaced Hemmings to big applause on 72 minutes.
On 75 minutes Morris got in the way of a powerful shot by Baxendale. He then had to get behind a powerful Hoban header as Stags went for a fourth.
Instead Crawley pulled one back on 82 minutes as Bawling crossed from the right and it appeared that defender Bennett glanced a header past his own keeper.
Danny Rose took over from Green up front with six minutes to go, with Henderson on for Hoban in the last minute.
McGuire was furious in stoppage time as a challenge saw him suffer a cut head and he had to be restrained by team mates. He came back on to huge applause with a heavily bandaged head.
STAGS: Shearer, M. Rose, Bennett, Pearce, Benning; Clements, McGuire, Gobern, Hemmings (Baxendale 72); Hoban (Henderson 90), Green (Danny Rose 84). Subs: Thomas, Law, Jensen, Hamilton.
CRAWLEY: Morris, Young, Connolly (Davey 35, Djalo 65), Boldewijn (Bawling 57), Smith, Harrold, Roberts, Blackman, Garnett, Clifford, Collins. Subs: Beeney, Payne, Tajbakhsh, Henderson. REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of East Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 2,984 (72 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Clements.