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17:05 19th January 2013
By  Andrew Webb

Stags earn fourth straight away win

Mansfield Town came from behind to record their fourth consecutive away league victory and move to within three points of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off zone.

Shaun Whalley fired the hosts ahead on six minutes, before skipper Adam Murray levelled with his first goal in league action since April 2011.

The Stags dominated for large periods and reaped the rewards of their efforts as Lee Stevenson slotted home nine minutes after the re-start following a superb pass from Anthony Howell.

Southport twice came close through Charlie Joyce and Karl Ledsham in the dying stages, though Mansfield substitute Louis Briscoe also struck the woodwork deep into stoppage-time.

After a quiet start to the game, the hosts took control as they grabbed a dramatic opener on six minutes.

Alan Moogan capitalised on Stevenson’s sloppy pass towards Murray in the centre, and threaded an inch-perfect ball towards Whalley on the left flank, who cut inside and fired low past Alan Marriott.

The Stags struggled to generate any rhythm within their play and almost fell further behind when Whalley cut inside once more and squared a ball to Moogan, which was just too quick for the ‘Port midfielder.

However, despite offering very little in the early exchanges, Mansfield enjoyed their first chance as Matt Green saw his powerful header saved by Tony McMillan following Lee Beevers’ left-wing cross.

And an equaliser, albeit against the run of play, was soon forthcoming.

Junior Daniel beat two players to cut into the area from the left channel, before playing a short pass to Murray, who emphatically slammed home after his initial shot was blocked by McMillan.

Paul Cox’s side upped the ante and began to dominate territorially, with the impressive Daniel forcing another save from the ‘Port shot-stopper midway through the first period.

Moogan saw a 25-yard drive comfortably held by Marriott at the other end on 24 minutes, whilst Moogan was unable to cause any danger with a free-kick deep into the area.

After a quiet period of play, Stevenson came within inches of establishing a lead for the visitors, when his right-foot shot from inside the area flew only inches over the woodwork.

Howell also saw a close-range shot blocked by Steve Akrigg as the Stags continued to press forward, before Stevenson’s floated effort failed to test McMillan.

Southport remained resilient until nine minutes after the break when Howell’s defence-splitting pass was met by Stevenson, who saw his low 20-yard drive trickle into the bottom left corner.

Buoyed by taking the lead, Lindon Meikle came close to extending Mansfield’s advantage when his close-range attempt was bravely blocked by Simon Grand on the hour mark.

The impressive Howell carved the hosts defence wide open again midway through the second period with an exquisite lofted ball over the top, which reached Green inside the area.

Green’s first time strike was bundled clear by a static McMillan, with Stevenson unable to re-adjust his body in time to connect with the subsequent rebound, as Ritchie Sutton eventually fired over.

After lengthy periods of domination, the hosts almost drew level on 80 minutes as Ledsham’s corner was headed goalwards by Joyce, which forced Beevers to clear on the line.

Southport again came within inches of an equaliser as Ledsham’s low snapshot caught a wild deflection from Whalley, as Marriott was nervously forced to watch the ball drift wide of his right-hand post.

Substitute Briscoe hit the woodwork with a ferocious drive in the penultimate minute of added time, but the miss proved immaterial as the visitors held on to take all three points.

Attendance: 804 (80 away supporters).