Mansfield Town staved off tough opposition to register a valuable 2-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge in this afternoon’s Sky Bet League Two match at One Call Stadium.
The Stags opened the scoring in the early stages of the second half through a Reggie Lambe goal, before the away side equalised when Jamie Cureton placed the ball past Lenny Pidgeley.
However, Junior Brown was the hero in the end as he scored the winner with a thumping drive in the 82nd minute.
Two changes were made to Adam Murray’s starting line up as midfielder Chirs Clements and Bermudan winger Lambe were welcomed back. Simon Heslop and Jeffrey Monakana were the players to make way and the latter took up a place on the substitutes’ bench.
The Stags used their pace to push forward early. A long throw by left-back Callum Elder found striker Vadaine Oliver in good space, but he was unable to get enough purchase on his back heel. The resulting corner from Clements again found Oliver but Daggers’ goalkeeper Mark Cousins made his presence felt to deny a clear shot on goal.
Still in the first 10 minutes, Dagenham were able to sustain a solid spell of possession whilst being unable to create any meaningful openings.
Mansfield continued to show stern impetus in the final third with impressive link-up play amongst the Stags' frontmen. A clever run into the penalty area by winger Junior Brown almost paid dividends. Moments later, defender Ryan Tafazolli leapt high to try and get his head on a Jack Thomas cross, but his effort could only be glanced across the face of goal.
The Daggers had a promising opening in the 25th minute when midfielder Andre Boucaud was fouled after a challenge from behind on the edge of the penalty area. After Bouchaud hit the wall from the resulting free-kick, Billy Bingham’s follow-up shot was blocked. The Stags defence then had to scramble to defend the ball and were pleased to see it go out for corner.
As the first half hour ticked by, a cross from the left side from Reggie Lambe found the head of the advanced defender Ritchie Sutton. He, in turn, found Oliver, who was unable to bring the ball down and force a shot on goal.
With 10 minutes to go in the first half, the Stags had the ball in a good area again after some accurate passing between Brown, Oliver and Lambe in the final third. They could not find the final ball and the Daggers regained possession.
Dagenham then squandered a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 42nd minute. Captain Abu Ogogo cut the ball back to Alex Jakubiak who was waiting at the top of the penalty area. He could only manage to put his fierce strike well over the crossbar.
The Stags had an opportunity in first half stoppage-time as another long throw from Elder created confusion amongst the Daggers defence. Sutton flicked the ball on with his head, but Thomas’ snap shot from a tight angle could not find the target. This was the last action and the score remained at 0-0.
The hosts started the second half with great urgency and after just 52 seconds they found the game’s first goal. Lambe broke forward and played the ball to an attacking Brown. Lambe shortly received the ball back in a good scoring position and finished confidently from 10 yards past Daggers ‘keeper Cousins.
Mansfield continued the attacking in the 53rd minute as Thomas did well to release Oliver through the middle of the park and towards goal. His crossfield pass found Clements who couldn’t find the target with his long-range shot.
In what was proving to be a lively second half, Dagenham found the equaliser on the hour mark. Cureton received the ball on the right side of the penalty area and fired a shot towards goal. Pidgeley got down, but was unable to stop the ball from going into the net.
As Dagenham continued to spring to life, a good attacking move transpired and culminated in a shot from distance by Bouchaud who this time forced a comfortable standing save from Pidgeley.
The Stags had a chance to regain the lead in the 66th minute when Lambe put a well-timed cross in towards Oliver whose header ricocheted off the post.
Murray was the first manager to turn to his bench when striker Billy Kee came on to replace Thomas.
The Stags came agonisingly close to scoring in the 70th minute. The frontmen were afforded plenty of space in the Daggers’ penalty area as Lambe played it to Kee who had his shot blocked. The best chance came to Oliver who received the ball from the rebound and attempted to fire home from close-range, only to be denied by a vital save from Cousins diving to his right.
The home side came close again as Lambe’s looping header was cleared off the line by defender Scott Doe. This would be the Bermudan’s last action as he was replaced by Monakana who made his home debut.
Dagenham soon went to their bench for the first time as Shamir Fenelon came on to replace Jakubiak.
Much to the delight of the home fans, the Stags took the lead in the 82nd minute after another Elder throw fell created confusion yet again and fell to the waiting Brown, who buried his thumping drive into the back of the back.
As the Daggers looked to get back into the game in the closing stages, Daniel Carr was called upon to replace Luke Howell.
Monakana made his presence felt in the 87th minute when he skilfully burst into the penalty area. He linked up with Oliver who in turn played a quick through ball to the on-running Brown. He couldn’t take the ball under control and the Daggers were relieved to see Cousins get possession of the ball.
As the match entered into a tense period of four minutes stoppage-time, the Stags were able to hold onto their lead and the match finished 2-1.
Attendance: 2,546 (122 away supporters).