Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
Goals for Sam Clucas and James Jennings helped the Stags on their way to their first home win in twenty weeks this afternoon and despite a late consolation goal for Southend’s Ryan Leonard, Mansfield showed tremendous character to hold on and clinch a massive three points.
It was a nervy afternoon watching on from Q block as Paul Cox’s men looked to respond from last weekend’s gut wrenching last minute sucker-punch at Plymouth, however the disappointment of taking a draw from the cusp of glory, only helped to motivate Cox’s men onto picking up all three points.
We commented several times about how narrow the players looked when they had the opportunity to attack, Chris Clements and Lee Stevenson both looked to pull the strings but often found a forward path non-existent in a system which, for us, fails to get the best out of the players. That said, rather than throw it the towel, the boys kept pushing and eventually found breakthroughs – the opener from Sam Clucas a fine example of a left sided player feeding on scraps from his natural side of the pitch.
There could, and should, have been more throughout with Ryan Tafazolli coming close from a corner and the impressive Matt Rhead being denied by the keeper. The fact the second strike didn’t follow immediately didn’t frustrate the majority of the supporters around us and in turn, didn’t affect the players – instead they dug their heals in and refused to let Phil Brown’s Southend in, whether it be over the top, down the flanks or through the middle the visitors were met by a stern resilience with numerous players putting a foot in and getting in front of stray shots.
Naturally there was always a sense that one goal wouldn’t be enough, Stags were once bitten twice shy and they knew the importance of taking a chance when it came. The prime example came on 64 minutes when a corner came out of the blue – despite being denied with through an initial shot, James Jennings was on hand to bundle home the loose ball to give us all a massive boost.
Southend wouldn’t lie down and came back at Stags in attempt to rescue the game yet the combined force of the Stags’ resilience and the footballing gods saw the visitors hit the bar, via an acute touch of Marriott’s glove, hit the post and fire high into the stands.
Last on Leonards stray effort trickled in to make us all bite the remainder of our nails yet Mansfield hung on and gained a massive three points that will hopefully provide a massive boost going into Tuesday evenings match with Bury.
Remember, it only takes a whisper to start an avalanche – let the points begin to role! COYS
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