According to some on social media, it could well have been the win that kept new manager David Flitcroft his job.
Victories at the old enemy of Chesterfield don’t come along too often — though Calvin Andrew’s header and pitch-length celebration run, not to mention Liam Lawrence’s late winner, will always live long in my memory.
Now add to that the name of Mal Benning. His second-half finish sent 2,600 fans at the Proact Stadium into raptures — and like the afore-mentioned Andrew and Lawrence, his name will also go down in Stags history.
MATCHWINNER MAL BENNING POST-MATCH
DAVID FLITCROFT REACTION
Those fans were joined in celebration by Flitcroft. After eight games without a win since taking over from Steve Evans — and the amber and blue’s promotion hopes fading fast — he must have felt under pressure.
He still is, of course. Mansfield Town — the owner and the fans — have been chasing League One football all season. Flitcroft arrived, unexpectedly, two months ago with the side on the verge of the automatic promotion places.
The slide that has left the Stags realistically chasing the last play-off place at best meant the manager lost the backing of some supporters.
But now, whatever happens, he will go down in Stags’ folklore as the man who masterminded a win at bitter rivals the Spireites.
Benning’s 67th minute strike has undoubtedly bought the pragmatic and honest manager time on the terraces.
Owner John Radford will be relieved that the man he went to steer his ship to the promotion destination still has time to get the journey back on track.
And Flitcroft himself can now hopefully approach the last must-win three matches a little more relaxed — and be able to build on the momentum of four points from two matches.
His words before and after the derby delight showed that he knew how much the match against the Spireites means to the supporters - and provided the inspiration I called for a week ago. Flitcroft managed to transmit that to his players — and they, in turn, gave another performance that appeared at odds with those in the stands who suggested that the players had not been playing for the new boss.
Even in defeat under Flitcroft, there have been times when the Stags have been applauded off the pitch by most fans, knowing that the players had given their best.
But that had not stopped the sometimes understandable negativity from the stands as the promotion dream began to fade.
Finally on Saturday the Stags under Flitcroft got the rub of the green their committed performance deserved — and there was clearly nothing wrong with team spirit!
Thousands of fans were sent into raptures. Benning was back to his best of previous seasons’ when he was scoring spectacular goals for fun. The Stags players signing autographs for fans as they left the Proact Stadium showed that the bond between the stands and the changing room was still strong. It was a moment to savour in this rollercoaster season — and Flicroft’s decision to bring back Benning after his three-match, despite Johnny Hunt playing well the previous Tuesday and setting up the Stags equaliser might, just prove a turning point.
Now we have just got to cling on for the final thrilling moments of this ride.
There are three matches in the league — home clashes with Port Vale and Crawley, with a trip to Yeovil sandwiched in between. Hopefully there will then be three more matches in the play-offs.
Those three league matches have to be won — and favours needed elsewhere to stop Lincoln or Coventry. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the same vocal and energetic support at the Proact repeated this Saturday for the visit of Port Vale.
For no matter how much we can enjoy the derby win at Chesterfield and the part everyone played on and off the pitch, we have all go to do it again to keep the promotion dream alive.