Full Time ScoreStevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
Competition Sky Bet League Two
Venue Lamex Stadium
Stags Goal Scorer(s) Ryan Sweeney, Tyler Walker (2)
Craig Priest writes…
Mansfield Town delivered the perfect early Christmas present with a commanding display at Stevenage, and despite having to come from a goal behind, reinforced the belief that this could be the season to be jolly – Merry Stagsmas everyone!
After last weekend’s wash out at half time to Forest Green, there were fears that the Stags would be rusty having lost momentum in the horrible winter rain, however if anything – that downpour did nothing bar strengthen the Stags focus and desire to fight, something which was clear yesterday at Stevenage.
From the very first whistle Flitcroft’s men looked thirsty and played some wonderful football and, as has been the story for many a game, should have perhaps been a goal in front – Stevenage saw little sight of the Stags goal and left Logan (who now has a chance following the disappointing injury to Oljenik) as a spectator for long periods of the first half – yet with seconds to go before the break, a cross from the Stevenage right wasn’t deal with and against the odds, the hosts led.
There are two ways to react, blame and crumble, or move on and fight back – this Mansfield Town side is only capable of the latter and set about turning the game on its head with a terrific second half display full of energy, and somewhat anger, to claim the win and protect their reputation as the toughest side to beat in the EFL and the second toughest in the top four leagues, bettered only by unbeaten Liverpool.
This is a team who battle and fight for each other, this is a team who battle and fight for their manager and backroom, this is a team who battle and fight for its fans and who share the same passion – I can honestly say, even going back to the winning run which saw us promoted back into the league, that I’ve never felt this from the players and manager. I’m not daft, I know that the bubble will burst or at least take a hit at some stage, BUT we are on the cusp of something special here and I for one can’t wait to see it continue.
We’ve two tough home games over Christmas in Bury (Boxing Day) and Swindon (29th) where we have to pick up wins now and put together a real forceful run, Bury we owe not only for the late draw at their place, but also the recent loss in the Checkatrade, whilst Swindon fans will want to burst Flitcroft’s bubble and climb up the table.
Finally, Merry Christmas to you and your family – Thanks for reading my ramblings and listening/ watching the podcast – let’s hope Santa brings what we’re all wishing for!!
The Stags named an unchanged side from the one who played 45 minutes at Forest Green, sorry enjoyed 45 minutes of water football! Conrad Logan continued in goal with Oljenik out for the season, Jake Kean on the bench – returning to the club on a short term deal top bolster the goalkeeping department.
Mansfield started with a real intensity and should have been ahead inside the opening two minutes as CJ Hamilton was denied by Scott Cuthbert, Jacob Mellis and Neal Bishop also saw efforts land off target during a first half which the Stags enjoyed lots of the ball.
With ten minutes to go before the break Walker was denied an opening goal by Paul Farman in a one vs one, ten minutes later disaster struck as with what must have been their third sight on goal if that, Stevenage took the lead as Ben Nugent converted a right sided cross.
The stags set about turning the game around after the break and nearly pulled level on 52 minutes as Elsnik found Mellis, his long range effort flew over the bar before three minutes later former Stag Joel Byrom gave the ball away and saw Walker pounce, the loanee’s effort looped over the bar.
Second later though and the goal the Stags needed came as a corner saw the ball fall for Ryan Sweeney who smashed home his first goal in Stags colours to send the visiting fans into raptures.
The travelling support never stopped singing and were momentarily breathless as Stevenage found a rare opening on 76 minutes – Conrad Logan earned heroic status with a venomous save to keep the match at 1-1
Logan’s brilliant save spurred on the Stags and just two minutes later substitute Danny Rose made an impact as he headed a cross back across goal, Tyler Walker made no mistake in converting to put Mansfield back in front.
Mansfield weren’t contempt at 2-1 and set about in search of a much deserved third, they bfound it with four minutes to go as Hamilton burst down the left and whipped in for Walker who was denied by Farman at the first attempt, but at the second, slammed home – three goals for the Stags, two for Walker and another win in the bag.
FULL TIME: Stevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
STAGS [3-4-1-2]: Conrad Logan, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Ryan Sweeney, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Neal Bishop, Mal Benning (Danny Rose 69), Timi Elsnik (Jordan Graham 87), Cj Hamilton, Tyler Walker
Unused Subs:  Jake Kean, Calum Butcher, Jason Law, Will Atkinson
Referee: Dean Whitestone
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