OPINION: Stylish Stags pass the '˜Ex Factor' audition
Mansfield Town's home league record against Exeter City in this century has been poor to say the least.
Three successive defeats to the Grecians at the One Call Stadium — and remarkably just one win in 14 home matches against Exeter — did not fill the home fans with confidence as they wound their way into the ground on Saturday.
But as they left, admittedly frustrated by the visitors’ undeserved equaliser that denied the Stags a first league win in five matches, most of the fans would have had a spring in their step.
For while the Stags did not totally end that Exeter hoodoo in the 1-1 draw and are still in mid-table, they did banish the memories of the previous home match — that dreadful performance in a 3-1 home defeat to Swindon.
Exeter could have gone top with a win and results elsewhere going their way, but it was the Stags who looked more like the side in the play-off positions.
Mansfield boss Steve Evans was rewarded for naming an attacking line-up full of creativity with a stylish performance full of verve and exciting forward play.
The Stags created numerous chances and had the fans on the edge of their seats.
Take the goal — a great run by Jacob Mellish and a goal for Kane Hemmings, his second in the amber blue which he could, and probably should, have added to.
It was typical of the confident forward play and attacking intentions that rightly earned cheers from the fans.
The Stags must be more ruthless in front of goal to kill off teams — the draw was too reminiscent of the 2-2 against Luton at the start of the season — but more perfomances like on Saturday will surely see the Stags climb back into promotion contention.
What was the spark for the change in outlook from the Stags after a series of indifferent league displays?
The return of Joel Byrom from injury was clear for all to see as he ran the midfield.
Mellis added the creativity that we all thought would be coming from his pre-season performances.
And CJ Hamilton had possibly his best league game for the club.
And where did those three performances stem from? In the short-term, arguably the previous midweek win at Notts County in the Checkatrade Trophy. The competition has its critics, but for Evans it was ideal preparation for what could be a season-changing performance.