Craig Priest writes…
What's that old saying about watching football, something about not fancying a cold and wet Tuesday night in Stoke and playing out dull 0-0 draws? Well what about midweek trips on the outskirts of Stoke? The Stags wrote their own saying on that one.... turn up, shine like Diamonds and win 4-0.
Alright so that doesn't quite roll off the tongue but who cares, what matters is one hell of a victory for Steve Evans and his players to snowball that momentum towards the play offs.
One saying that does ring true is ‘a game of two halves’ or a performance of two halves in truth. The first half, Port Vale came out fast, strong and quick, they practically suffocated Mansfield.
Yet a ‘Smash and Grab' from Zander Diamond provided a platform to build upon and with some zest and hunger- Mansfield made Port Vale pay. We have been so guilty of not being clinical and I 100% believe that had it stayed 1-0 we would have faced a battle for a point, it’s so refreshing to see us be ruthless.
The plaudits will always go towards to the attack but you have to stand up and applaud the defence, a third consecutive clean sheet is obviously a plus but can we take a moment to applaud Rhys Bennetts excellent first half challenge at 0-0. He is a pure diamond at the back, if that chance is put away – Port Vale have momentum and Mansfield capitulate ala Cheltenham.
Mansfield Town being controlled, disciplined and ruthless from back to front, that is how you climb tables and make progress. There is something about us at the moment that just clicks, we’re starting games slowly which is a concern but we are digging our heels in and stopping the flood, which then allows us to go up the other end and do the damage.
Port Vale, out of all the November fixtures, was the toughest for me and yet we’ve come out of it buzzing – no matter if its football or everyday life, doing well breeds confidence and that can only be a good thing if it is managed in the right way, which I think at the moment it is – on and off the pitch.
That’s in no small part due to having captain Zander Diamond back in the fold – Pearce is a good defender and a solid choice for a leader, but he’s not a vocal leader where as Diamond is, even over the bellowing cries of ‘YEEEEELLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWSSSS’ you could hear the Stags skipper talking his side through the game, even at 4-0 up when it would be so easy just to power down with the damage done, the skipper marshalled the troops onto a clean sheet.
Let's savour last night, but keep our heads now, and round off November with derby day win – there’s no place for arrogance or complacency.
Steve Evans made two changes from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stevenage – Danny Rose was back from suspension so went straight in for Spencer, whilst Paul Anderson took the place of Mellis, moving MacDonald to the central midfield role where he performed so well at Coventry in the Stags’ last away trip.
The hosts enjoyed the early spells as Neil Aspin looked to continue his turn around after taking the reins at Vale, Mansfield stood firm to hack away a dangerous early free kick by David Worrall on two minutes, before seven minutes later a real opportunity opened up for Vale as Stags were flustered at the back – Anton Forrester got between Johnny Hunt & Rhys Bennett inside the box, but dragged wide of Logans post.
Mansfield were struggling with the wet and cut up pitch and couldn’t get a foot on the ball, but did win a corner on 19 minutes as Anderson’s cross towards Hemmings was headed behind – the resulting set-play saw Rose nod just wide, as Byrom swung in a dangerous ball.
Rhys Bennett then made the challenge of the game on 27 minutes as MacDonald lost his footing on the half way line to see Vale nip in and try and counter, Forrester cantered forward but from nowhere, Rhys Bennett showed excellent pace and tenacity to slide in and halt Vales charge.
A free kick for the hosts on 33 minutes saw Logan have to palm away Danny Pugh’s effort as the ball zipped across the floor, but with three minutes to go before half-time, Mansfield did a ‘Smash and Grab’ routine to open the scoring.
Danny Rose won the initial free kick on the half way line and a quick give from Byrom released White down the right hand side, his cross from deep nodded in by skipper Zander Diamond, after Anderson had nodded the ball into the mix.
Tom Pope then looked to burst into the area, but a tremendous burst of pace from Anderson saw the wing man get back and goal side of Pope, smashing the ball away as Mansfield threw on the ankers as the half time whistle blew.
After the break, Pope tested Logan with a teasing header but it would be Mansfield who well and truly sunk the Vale ship in Port, grabbing the second goal on 52 minutes as MacDonald delivered a pinpoint corner – skipper Zander Diamond peeling away from his man to hammer the ball home in front of the travelling support.
Two minutes later, Danny Rose scored another belter as Mansfield hit their third, credit must go to White for the directional pass, Rose holding off his marker well allowing the ball to run across to his left foot where he kept his footing, to fire beyond Boot in the Vale goal via the post, a wonderful strike on the half volley.
At the other end Paul Anderson made a goal line clearing header to protect the clean sheet on the hour, before three minutes later, the Stags made it four. Alex MacDonald this time made the assist with a splitting ball down the right hand side, Kane Hemmings was first too it and controlled well, keeping his footing to fire beneath Boot to seal a terrific second half attacking display from Mansfield Town.
A spell of resilient defending following from Stags with Logan, MacDonald and Anderson all on hand to keep the Vale at bay, with nine minutes to go – CJ Hamilton nearly made it five for the night, MacDonald and Hemmings combined before the latter played in Hamilton, who cut inside before curling wide of the Vale goal.
In the games final minute Logan produced a fine save from Pope as Mansfield protected the clean sheet and took home all three points to the bellowing sound of ‘YEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWSS’ – a tremendous scene as all the Stags squad and staff celebrated on the pitch infront of the travelling fans, the only ones left in the ground.
FULL TIME: Port Vale 0-4 Stags
Hayden White – Zander Diamond © - Rhys Bennett – Johnny Hunt
Paul Anderson – Alex MacDonald – Joel Byrom (Will Atkinson 70) – CJ Hamilton
Danny Rose (Jimmy Spencer 77) – Kane Hemmings (Calum Butcher 86)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Krystian Pearce, Jacob Mellis, Omari Sterling-James
Referee: Trevor Kettle Assistants Joe Simpson, Nigel Smith Fourth Official Richard Bartlett
Attendance: 3,878 (537)
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