Red card for George Maris as Mansfield Town suffer more home frustration in draw with Crewe Alexandra

Mansfield Town saw more precious home points slip away as they were held 1-1 by Crewe Alexandra and had midfielder George Maris sent off in controversial circumstances near the end of a frustrating afternoon.
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Stags have now only won once in seven home games and saw a 1-0 lead wiped out in a second half in which they dominated until the red card on 81 minutes

Hiram Boateng, Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery all came close in the first half and, after Christy Pym has made his first save, denying Lachlan Brook, Stags made a perfectly-timed breakthrough through Maris from an excellent Callum Johnson cross on 42 minutes.

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But Stags were shellshocked as Crewe levelled matters on 55 minutes with a long range rocket strike by Kelvin Mellor.

Stephen McLaughlin puts over a good cross against Crewe. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.mediaStephen McLaughlin puts over a good cross against Crewe. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
Stephen McLaughlin puts over a good cross against Crewe. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Mansfield turned up the heat and David Richards made two top drawer saves.

But the controversial dismissal of Maris, adjudged to be last man in a very wide position, with nine minutes left took the wind out of home sails.

An impressive debut from new boy Callum Johnson earned him man of the match on a brighter note.

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Nigel Clough made three changes from the side that was beaten at home by Barrow last weekend with a first start for defender Johnson, signed yesterday from Ross County.

Kellan Gordon and Will Swan dropped to the bench from last week's side while Oli Hawkins has moved on Gillingham.

Jordan Bowery, Kieran Wallace and Johnson were the three to come in while fellow new recruit Alfie Kilgour was also named on the Mansfield bench.

Crewe gave a debut to new striker Elliott Nevitt from Tranmere Rovers and, with Arsenal recalling loanee keeper Arthur Okonkwo, Dave Richards was back between the posts for the Alex.

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Meanwhile the news broke that midfielder George Lapslie had, as expected, signed for League Two rivals Gillingham and was being paraded to their fans before kick-off, joining fellow Stag Hawkins.

There was a heavy downpour just before kick-off to greet the teams on a freezing cold afternoon.

A wicked cross from McLaughlin that caused panic in the Crewe box saw Stags earn a second minute corner, which was cleared. Another soon followed.

But Crewe carved out an opportunity as Agyei shrugged off Perch on the right and sent in a low ball that Uwakwe poked wide under pressure.

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Stags came close on 13 minutes after neat hold-up work by Bowery. He found Boateng who sent Oates away. Richards came out to meet him but Oates' lobbed finish ended up on the roof of the net.

Two minutes later Bowery flicked a header wide from a teasing McLaughlin cross.

On 23 minutes Stags worked the ball well from left to right and Johnson sent a firm low ball in front of goal where Oates was just unable to reach it and turn it home.

They came even closer on 27 minutes as the referee played the advantage after Quinn was fouled and Boateng dipped a powerful 20 yard effort just over the bar.

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Hewitt got a solid block onto Nevitt's shot to concede a first corner to Crewe, which was easily cleared.

Neither keeper had a save to make until the 37th minute when Brook received a return pass from Uwakwe and made Pym block his angled shot for a corner at his near post.

On 41 minutes a loose pass from Thomas saw Oates latch onto it but his low shot lacked power and was easily gathered by Richards.

However, a minute later the Stags were ahead. Johnson sent over an inviting cross from the right and Maris was there to poke home a rising finish from close range.

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It was a great time to break the deadlock and go into half-time in front.

Crewe came out on the front foot and quickly forced two corners.

Adebisi did well to head clear right in front of goal after McLaughlin had flicked on a Maris corner at the near post.

New boy Johnson and Agyei needed treatment after a clash of heads but both were able to continue.

However, Crewe were level out of nowhere on 55 minutes.

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Boateng's square pass into space rolled towards Mellor 30 yards out and he struck a swerving finish through a crowd of players that left Pym rooted.

Mellor then had to hack away a teasing low ball into the six yard box by Oates.

On the hour Richards pulled off a superb reaction save from Johnson's close range finish after a Quinn corner forced a scramble.

After Oates was booked for a deliberate handball, Stags began to turn the screw and forced a series of corners while Boateng curled a shot over the angle.

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Wallace went into a crunching tackle on sub Sambou. Stags felt it was a fair one but the referee disagreed and booked him on 70 minutes.

Richards pulled another great save on 72 minutes as he somehow got down to his left to block a Quinn header from Boateng's cross.

Mellor then blocked a goalbound Maris shot as the home side piled on the pressure and Stags threw on an extra striker in Swan in place of Wallace.

McLaughlin caused worries when he gave the ball away but was thankfully back to atone for his error as he ended the break with a block on Mellor.

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On 81 minutes Stags were rocked when Maris cynically brought down Nevitt as he tried to break away down the left.

A booking looked certain but the referee stunned the home side by producing a red card.

Crewe saw their chance and Sambou flicked an acrobatic effort over while Pym was down to easily hold a low Nevitt shot.

Kilgour was sent on for Oates as Stags shored things up with four minutes of normal time left.

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Crewe were probing hard when five minutes were added at the end in which McLaughlin was wide from distance and Kilgour was wide of the near post as the afternoon ended in frustration.

STAGS: Pym, Johnson, Hewitt, Perch, McLaughlin, Wallace (Swan 76), Maris, Boateng, Quinn (Law 83), Bowery, Oates (Kilgour 86). SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Gordon, O'Toole, Knowles.

CREWE: Richards, Mellor, Adebisi, McDonald, Thomas, Agyei, Griffiths, O'Riordan, Brook (Ainley 65), Nevitt, Uwakwe (Sambou 65). SUBS NOT USED: Booth, Tabiner, Evans, Holicek, Lunt.

REFEREE: Carl Boyeson.ATTENDANCE: 6,142 (318 away).