OPINION: Derby win was a day that football fans live for
Mansfield Town's win over Notts County on Saturday was one of those days that we live for as football supporters.
Recent home results for the Stags have been poor, but after three good away performances in a week, the Stags put those home woes behind them put with a superb second half performance to blow their local rivals away and retain Nottinghamshire bragging rights.
Notts were the better side in the first half and Mansfield were grateful to Scott Shearer for two fine saves and a Lee Collins header off the line in the opening 20 minutes.
Click HERE to read match report
Click HERE to read Adam Murray’s thoughts on the game
Click HERE to read Matt Green’s views on being dropped
Click HERE to see a slideshow of match action photographs
Click HERE to see a gallery of pictures of fans in the stands
Click HERE to read Tim Morriss’ blog
Click HERE to read Catling’s Corner blog
Click HERE to read Notts boss John Sheridan’s views on their defeat
But the second half was a completely different affair as Mansfield took the lead, with substitute Matt Green scoring within 23 seconds of coming on, though it certainly had an element of luck involved as Green’s shot deflected off Richard Duffy as the defender tried to block it, and span into the net, wrongfooting the keeper.
It was a good ball in from Mal Benning and well nodded down to Green by Pat Hoban, who was tremendous all game.
The Stags were unlucky not to increase the lead as Jamie McGuire played a ball forward to Hoban who beat the offside trap and, with the keeper advancing and the ball bouncing up, Hoban lobbed over the keeper only to see it rebound off the front of the bar - a great effort.
It was a bad blow when Notts equalised with Alex Rodman firing a loose ball into the net following a free kick.
Just after that, Mansfield should have had a clear penalty as sub Darius Henderson was smashed in the face inside the area by Forte as they challenged for the ball - an extraordinary miss by the officials.
The referee atoned for that gaffe by awarding Mansfield a penalty five minutes later on the stroke of 90 minutes when Benning knocked the ball past defender Tootle and both players went down in a heap and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Green stepped up and smashed it into the top left corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance with a terrific penalty.
The Stags made it 3-1 five minutes into stoppage time when Chris Clements knocked the ball up with his right foot, and smashed it with his left foot high into the Notts County half.
Henderson out-muscled two defenders and fired left footed into the bottom right corner of the net.
It was a show of brute strength and clinical finishing from Henderson - the first real glimpse Stags fans have seen of what he can bring to the club.
As the Notts supporters slunk away, the Stags were left to celebrate a great second half performance.
There were some super performances throughout the team, with Pat Hoban my man of the match, giving the Notts defence a torrid time, closely followed by Clements, Green, and McGuire, not to mention Shearer for his crucial first half saves.
The aggregate score between the two sides this season and last season is now Mansfield 10-1 Notts County.
The crowd was 600 down on last season’s game against Notts County (400 down on home fans).
But the form going into both games was similar. Mansfield came into the game last season on the back of a disappointing March which had seen them slide down the table.
Therefore much of that difference can be put down to the excessively early kick-off time of 12.15pm, on police advice, keeping plenty of Stags fans away who would otherwise have come, compared to the later kick-off last season of 1pm.
Three of these excessively early 12.15pm kick-offs this season are costing the club a great deal of money.