Mark Ward off to winning start at AFC Mansfield

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Mark Ward was delighted with his flying start as new AFC Mansfield boss, as a clinical attacking performance saw the struggling Bulls comfortably beat Loughborough Dynamo 3-0 just two weeks after losing to their visitors by the same margin.

“I just kept encouraging them and trying to give some self-belief, and if the lads were getting frustrated I tried to calm them down,” Ward said after the victory.

“They gave me absolutely everything today and I couldn’t ask for more.”

Ward had plenty of praise for hat-trick hero Ollie Fearon, who he believed was back to his old self in a red shirt.

“I told him to get back to the Ollie Fearon that Rudy Funk signed from Penistone – just a raw, hungry and happy lad – and to express himself.

“I don’t know if it’s down to luck or hard work, I’m just happy that it paid off.”

Fearon fired the Bulls ahead within 20 minutes, with his low 25-yard strike curling into Charlie Taylor’s net.

Fearon doubled the hosts’ advantage just two minutes into the second half, with his header from a free-kick just about crossing the line.

In quick succession, the striker earned a memorable hat-trick when he headed Charlie Dawes’ cross into the far corner.

The win lifts AFC to 16th in the NPL East Division table, with a huge game at Pickering Town up next on Tuesday night.