Matt Rhead’s powerful 31st minute header this afternoon secured a vital 1-0 victory over Fleetwood Town and will go a long way in the Stags’ fight for league survival. The big front man set Stags on their way and gave them a deserved lead, heading the ball powerfully enough to beat the keeper following Chris Clements’ pinpoint corner.
The Stags played some good football in the early stages and were unlucky not have led early with Junior Daniel, one of two changes, drilled low at the keeper whilst Darryl Westlake & Sam Clucas also came close.
Mansfield thoroughly deserved the victory and in our opinion, showed superb resilience as the game progressed deeper into the second half. No matter how many times Fleetwood attacked or how far forward their defensive line moved, Cox’s men were determined to hold firm and take all three points, this is exactly the type of attitude needed to move the club away from the drop-zone and the chasing the pack.
Walking out of the match, a few faces were still having the same old conversation ‘we need a striker’ – yes this may well be true but in reality, without a miracle, we’re not going to get one.
We are in a situation where we need a striker, but for whatever reason off the field or finically, it’s not going to happen. We have to work with what we’ve got and play to our strengths rather than letting our weaknesses be exposed – today, we played to our strengths and look at the end result.
Losing players through injury will always be a blow, especially the calibre of Martin Riley and James Jennings, however today being forced into changed also played a part in victory. Ritchie Sutton came into the centre back three and performed solidly, tracking his markers all afternoon and very rarely allowing crosses to come into the area. Junior Daniel, who slotted into left wing back in the absence of Jennings, was fully deserving of the man of the match award. His energy down that left hand side gave Mansfield an extra outlet which they’ve been lacking for a while – every time he got on the ball there was a sense of anticipation and that something was going to come.
Bury will be tough on Tuesday evening but with two back to back home wins under their belts, the players have a bit more of a spring in their step – fingers crossed this time, the victory is not just a one off and our champions can achieve stability.
Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
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