First half goals from Ben Hutchinson and Sam Clucas added to a second half blunder from Northampton’s Mathias Kouo-Doumbe saw Mansfield Town extend their unbeaten run to seven matches as they ran out 3-0 winners at the One Call Stadium.
Boss Paul Cox took charge of his 100th game as Stags manager and made two enforced changes from the side which came from behind to beat York City last weekend. With Martin Riley suspended, Ryan Tafazolli came into the heart of the defence and earned the man of the match plaudits – elsewhere Anthony Howell replaced the injured Chris Clements.
It was a frustrating opening to the match as Stags struggled to get players forward, the first Stags chance came on 15 minutes as Calvin Andrew headed Ben Hutchinson’s deep free kick into the hands of Cobblers glovesman Matt Duke.
Jamie McGuire and Sam Clucas both saw efforts blocked by the visitors whilst at the other end, Alan Marriott was quick off of his lane to deny Hackett as the Northampton man looked to counter.
On the half hour mark Mansfield made the breakthrough when Calvin Andrew was tripped just outside the cobblers penalty area. Ben Hutchinson stepped up with the resulting free kick and gave Duke no chance, curling the ball over the wall and into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, the Stags doubled their lead as Ryan Tafazolli showed great strength to hold up the ball on the edge of the box following a deep free kick, he slipped a crisp pass into the path of Sam Clucas who powered home right footed before peeling away in jubilation.
Alan Marriott produced a fine save to deny Darren Carter from reducing the deficit on the stroke of half time, palming away his well hit free kick.
After the break Northampton put on the pressure as they searched for a way back into the game, however Mansfield rode the storm clearing numerous crosses before Alan Marriott produced three fine saves in quick succession on the hour, again denying Carter from a free kick before keeping out the two follow up efforts.
Mansfield then went in search of the elusive third goal and had a helping hand from Mathias Kouo-Doumbe as he sliced a clearance from Tafazolli’s long ball forward over his bemused keeper and into the back of the net on 64 minutes.
The third goal effectively killed the match, however Mansfield didn’t have an easy finish but defended well as a unit to seal three points and a clean sheet ahead of next weekends crunch showdown with league leaders and local rivals, Chesterfield.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 3-0 Northampton
Referee: Steven Rushton
Attendance: 3,469 (460)
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, Ryan Tafazolli, John Dempster ©, James Jennings, Anthony Howell, Jamie McGuire, Calvin Andrew (Matt Rhead 62), Sam Clucas (Jake Speight 82), Ben Hutchinson (Lee Stevenson 54)
Unused Subs: Keiran Murtagh, Ollie Palmer, Lindon Meikle, Junior Daniel
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