Mansfield Town beat Colchester United to extend unbeaten run to 10 games

Mansfield Town's unbeaten run was extended to 10 games with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Colchester United tonight.

Rhys Oates celebrates his spectacular goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media
Rhys Oates celebrates his spectacular goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

That made it nine wins and a draw ahead of three big away games in a row.

But Colchester refused to roll over and produced a very late fightback just when the points seemed safe that had home nerves jangling.

Another magnificent Rhys Oates solo goal gave Stags an interval lead which should have been much bigger.

There were few second half openings and it seemed it was all over two minutes into added time when Jordan Bowery netted a penalty kick.

But United were not finished and Alan judge pulled one back on 90+7 and they then threw the kitchen sink at the home box for a couple more nervous minutes.

Stags gave a debut to deadline day loan signing Jamie Murphy in place of Ollie Clarke with fellow January signing Lucas Akins finally making a full debut in place of Jordan Bowery after three appearances from the bench.

Newcastle midfielder Matty Longstaff, who also joined on deadline day, had to be content with a place on the bench.

Cole Skuse was ruled out for Colchester after sustaining a head injury on Saturday, with John Akinde and Emyr Huws still out for the U's.

After a scruffy opening, Stags carved out the first chance on four minutes.

Murphy released McLaughlin down the left and he beat his man to get into the box and pulled a low pass back for Quinn whose first time finish went wide of the right post.

Bishop then confidently punched away Colchester's first corner of the night.

After some good Mansfield pressure, Akins had a shot deflected for Stags' first corner of the night on eight minutes.

That was helped back towards taker Maris who curled a hopeful first time effort back over the far angle.

O'Toole was booked for halting Hannant's advances down the left on 18 minutes.

Stags finally cleared the ball to Oates midway in his own half and he broke quickly, resisting several attempts to stop him both fair and foul before, from 20 yards out he lashed a superb unstoppable finish past Hornby to give Stags a 19th minute lead.

United quickly replied with a corner which Judge sent over and an unmarked Smith should have done better with his header, failing to test Bishop.

Wiredu was added to the book for a nasty lunging tackle on Akins on 23 minutes.

The visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game so far with some good possession without troubling Bishop.

But Stags should have doubled their lead on 34 minutes as McLaughlin's curling cross picked out Akins, who stabbed it goalwards from close range but straight at the keeper.

However, Hornby failed to hold it and the scramble that followed saw a backpass that gifted Stags a free kick six yards from goal.

The ball was eventually rolled to O'Toole but he blazed the golden chance over the top.

A minute later Murphy was put into space down the centre and he forced Hornby to parry a fierce 18 yard blast.

On 39 minutes Akins was close again but a superb neat post block by Wiredu stopped him turning Oates' low cross home.

Maris was too high from an Akins lay-off as Stags continued their assault on the Colchester goal.

A minute from the break McLaughlin got to the left by-line and crossed low where Akins was crowded out by defenders and could only lift his close range finish over the top.

The half ended with a knock for Oates after trying to block a clearance, but the striker was gingerly up after treatment.

An even start to the second half saw no chances until a short Hewitt backpass on 58 minutes saw Sears pip Bishop in the race but he was almost on the by-line and his attempt to net from a tight angle ended up in the sidenetting.

There was concern for Mansfield when McLaughlin landed awkwardly after a challenge and needed lengthy treatment but relief when he was able to continue.

Great crosses from first Oates and then Quinn zipped across the face of the visitors' goal as Stags searched for a second goal.

Oateds threatened to break clear again on 69 minutes, Kennedy taking one for the team and bringing him down for a booking.

Another knock for McLaughlin saw him finally have to limp off to be replaced by Wallace for the last 13 minutes.

A menacing break down the left by Edwards saw Akins haul him back by his shirt for the inevitable booking.

Nerves were jangling as the referee added on seven minutes with Colchester pressing hard.

But in the second of those minutes Stags made it safe from the spot.

A break down the left saw Bowery square to Clarke and, as he cut inside Eastman, a leg was left dangling to upend him.

Bowery coolly sent Hornby the wrong way from the spot and it was relief all round.

Hewitt's foul on 90+6 earned a frustrated booking.

And from that free kick, from a tight angle wide on the left, a minute later Judge somehow curled a free kick across everyone and under the far angle.

Suddenly pulses were racing and nerves jangling as Colchester piled on two more minutes of pressure with Stags putting in some superb blocks to preserve the win in a thrilling finish.

STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, O'Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin (Wallace 77), Stirk, Maris (Bowery 82), Quinn, Murphy (Clarke 73), Oates (Rawson 87), Akins. SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Longstaff, Johnson.COLCHESTER: Hornby, Chambers, Smith, Wiredu, Hannant (Eastman HT), Judge, Sears, Kenlock, Kennedy (Andrews 82), Tchamadeu, Wright (Edwards 64). SUBS NOT USED: Collins, Welch-Hayes, Coxe, Cornish.REFEREE: Darren Handley.ATTENDANCE: 4,815 (106 away).