Five things we learned from Mansfield Town v Walsall

Mansfield Town continued their fine form at the weekend – here's five things we learned in Saturday's 2-0 win over Walsall.

Monday, 17th January 2022, 9:50 am
The team celebrate Harry Charsley's goal against Walsall. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
The team celebrate Harry Charsley's goal against Walsall. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

1: Getting into the play-off spots felt a significant moment

Mansfield Town' s rollercoaster season saw them claw their way back in the play-offs spots on Saturday for the first time since early season before their injury crisis.

Having slid down to second bottom at one stage it felt a significant moment.

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Ex-Stag Hayden White blocks the advancing George Maris. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Stags knew they had a mountain to climb when they were the drop zone with 11 players out with injury and suspension, with Covid then also playing its part in who Nigel Clough could select.

But Saturday felt like they had finally somehow scaled that mountain and planted a flag at the top of it.

However, being only being three points off the automatic promotion places, there is no way Mansfield will now ease off the gas.

The confidence is flowing, the spirits are high and the winning run continues.

Rollin Menayese heads clear against his former club for Walsall on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

They have now reeled off nine wins from their last 10 league games, including six wins in a row – their best showing since 1991.

It is also seven victories in a row at home – a great stat but also a reminder that they have played more at home than away this season and need to keep their form going on the road as they even that up over the coming weeks with six of the next eight away.

2: Mansfield Town need Oli Hawkins up front

The towering Hawkins has been a key figure for Stags this season both up front and at the back.

Goalmouth action during the win against Walsall. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

He started out superbly as a striker but was forced to drop back as an emergency centre half due to the club's injury crisis.

Hawkins has done a good job there and started Saturday's game at the back.

But, when pushed up front after the break, we were immediately reminded, with his height, about how good he is with his headed flick-ons – ideal for someone with the pace and reaction of Rhys Oates.

Jordan Bowery has been immense in recent games, but his instinct up there is to hold the ball up and bring others into play with back to goal and the Hawkins flicks may be more beneficial to Oates.

Players and officials take the knee prior to kick-off against Walsall. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Bowery can also play a number of other roles and stay a vital cog in the machine.

Stags will be hoping that a knock Hawkins picked up late on Saturday is nothing serious.

Hawkins could also do with picking up less yellow cards. He has already been suspended once and another seems inevitable. He has now been cautioned six times in the last seven games!

3: A brace of goals is just the tonic Harry Charsley needed

It's been a tough season so far for Harry Charsley at Mansfield Town.

So it was the perfect tonic for him to come on and be the second half hero on Saturday and will do his confidence the world of good.

Mansfield Town midfielder John-Joe O'Toole fends off Walsall midfielder Jack Earing. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Charsley impressed early on in his Stags career after joining two years ago but the sheer strength of Stags' complement of midfield players – when all fit – has seen him fail to be regular first choice this season.

An injury to Ollie Clarke on Saturday saw him get a full 45 minutes and he certainly made the most of it with enthusiastic running as always but this time crowned with two excellent finishes.

4: George Maris is an unsung hero

Midfielder George Maris does not get as many man of the matches as he deserves and can often be an unsung hero for Stags.

But he is a vital cog in the works, links up play superbly and gets a foot in when needed.

On Saturday he managed to get his face in the way of a goalbound George Miller shot that had already beaten Nathan Bishop.

It was a painful but crucial moment at 0-0 as the afternoon could have taken a very different turn.

Instead he was up after treatment and within three minutes Mansfield were ahead at the other end.

5: Fans have played their part in the winning run

Once again on Saturday, Mansfield Town's fans played their part in the win, keeping the encouragement going and lifting a side that were not at their best in the first half.

After such a hectic schedule recently, there were signs of tiredness on Saturday as Stags failed to get into top gear against a decent Walsall side.

But the only boos at half-time were reserved for referee Ross Joyce and the home fans stayed firmly behind their side.

Charsley's first goal was a massive relief and Stags contained Walsall's response comfortably, protecting Nathan Bishop, before Charsley's second goal on 89 minutes saw the home fans blow the roof off in an outpouring of sheer joy and relief of not having to ensure the usual nervy stoppage time with only a one goal lead torment.

Mansfield Town midfielder Harry Charsley opens the scoring. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
Mansfield Town midfielder Harry Charsley celebrates after scoring a second goal against Walsall. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger