A last-gasp winner from substitute Adi Yussuf clinched all three points for the Stags after an action-packed 4-3 win away at Dagenham & Redbridge.
Malvind Benning’s sensational volley handed Mansfield the lead after six minutes before Matt McClure levelled for the hosts. Two goals in quick succession from Ashley Chambers gave the Essex club a two-goal
cushion before Matt Green’s penalty reduced the deficit to just a goal before half-time.
Two goals in the final 10 minutes completed the turnaround for the Nottinghamshire club after Krystian Pearce’s header and Yussuf’s superb solo goal secured a memorable first win at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
Adam Murray named an unchanged side after the 2-0 win at Stevenage on Tuesday, with midfielders Jamie McGuire and Jack Thomas retaining their places. There was movement on the bench however, as defender Liam Marsden was replaced by the returning Mitch Rose after the 21-year-old served his one-match suspension at the Lamex Stadium for picking up five yellow cards.
Stags immediately began the first half on the front-foot and it was only a matter of minutes before they broke the deadlock through an unbelievable strike by defender Benning. The hosts failed to clear their lines after a testing cross from the right-hand side and the ball fell perfectly for Benning on the edge of the area who unleashed a venomous volley which flew past the helpless ‘keeper Liam O’Brien.
An absolutely stupendous goal from the Mansfield full-back, but they weren’t in front for long as the Essex club hit back less than three minutes later. Striker McClure collected the ball around 20-yards from goal before spinning his defender and arrowing a low strike across goal and into the bottom right-hand corner of Brian Jensen’s goal.
It was the first real spell of possession for the home side and they failed to buck the trend as the Stags went back on the offensive as centre-half Ryan Tafazolli planted a firm header over the crossbar from less than eight yards out.
Dagenham began to grow in to the game as the minutes ticked by and they were almost handed a gift of a goal after winger Jodi Jones’ delivery was turned onto his own bar by midfielder McGuire. The backspin on his miss-kick spiralled towards Jensen’s goal as the Danish shot-stopper back-peddled, but fortunately for him the ball deflected off the woodwork.
Tafazolli is a regular focal point of any Stags set-piece given his prowess in the air and the defender was unlucky not to add to his goal in midweek when he planted a firm header towards the bottom corner from a Benning free-kick. As the Stags’ travelling support started to leap to their feet, Daggers’ ‘keeper O’Brien pulled off a superb diving save to parry away from danger.
The Daggers remained a threat from counter-attacks and landed a sucker-punch right on the half-hour mark to take the lead for the first time in the match. Andre Boucaud threaded the ball through the visitors’ back-line and into the path of forward Ashley Chambers and the former Walsall man cut back on to his left foot before drilling past Jensen.
Less than two minutes after notching their second goal of the match, two became three for the home side when Chambers doubled his tally for the afternoon. After a long ball into the Stags’ penalty area, the Dagenham number ten pounced on a defensive mix-up before poking the ball beyond the reach of the outstretched arm of Jensen.
With the visitors needing a route back in to the match, they were duly awarded a penalty after striker Green was pulled to the ground after smartly slipping between two defenders. The centre-forward dusted himself down before stepping up to squeeze his spot-kick under the diving O’Brien and halving the deficit to just a single goal.
Murray opted for a tactical shift by bringing on another attacking option in Yussuf in place of Jack Thomas, however both sides failed to add to the five goals from the opening 38 minutes despite Green’s best efforts with a low effort from the edge of the box right on the stroke of half-time.
Mansfield flew out of the traps as they kicked off the second period with Yussuf intelligently pulling the back from the by-line for the oncoming Reggie Lambe. The Bermudan did well to get his body over the ball, but his shot just inside the penalty area was palmed away by O’Brien in the Daggers’ goal.
The visitors thought they had levelled the arrears after Green stuck a foot out to toe-poke home from Tafazolli’s knock-down, but the assistant referee raised his flag to rule of the goal.
With the tempo dipping ever so slightly for quarter of an hour, a long ball up-field by the full-back Joe Widdowson saw Tafazolli misjudge the flight of the ball and ultimately allowed Hemmings to tee up substitute Jamie Cureton in the box. The veteran forward bent a beautifully curled effort towards the top right-hand corner of the net, but Jensen produced a superb one-handed save to claw the ball away and out for a corner.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Murray made his second substitution of the afternoon with Nathan Thomas entering the fray in place of Craig Westcarr, but it was the hosts who registered the game’s next meaningful chance.
A free-kick from deep fell to the feet of Cureton who showed his experience with a wonderfully lofted shot that flew over the head of Jensen, but dropped narrowly the wrong side of the post.
Mansfield had toiled and toiled in the second-half to find an equaliser and the Stags reaped the rewards of their efforts through the head of Krystian Pearce. Adam Chapman curled in a delightful corner into the danger area and Pearce thumped his unchallenged header past the despairing O’Brien and in to the net.
With the wind in their sails and the cheering of the Mansfield fans in the Traditional Builders Stand echoing throughout the stadium, Green showed terrific strength to shrug off his defender and win the header one halfway before feeding Yussuf who darted towards the penalty area.
The Tanzanian substitute showed quick feet which saw him work his way clear of two Dagenham defenders before sublimely squeezing the ball past O’Brien from the tightest of angles to score his first goal for Mansfield which sent the away fans into raptures.
A remarkable turnaround in Essex with the emotion sending both the substitutes and coaching staff on to the pitch in sheer adulation, as Murray brought off Green in place of another defender in the shape of Lee Collins.
The Daggers tried their very best to force an equaliser as the fourth official indicated there’d be a three minutes added time, but despite Brian Jensen having to be on hand to punch away a Jack Connors header, Stags held on to take home three fantastic points which sees them climb to sixth in the SkyBet League Two table.
Dag & Red: O’Brien, Connors, Dikamona, Boucaud, McClure (Cureton, 46), Chambers, Jones (Doidge, 69), Hemmings, Ferdinand, Obileye, Widdowson.
Substitutes not used: Cousins, Nosworthy, Doidge, Raymond. Hamalainen, Hoyte.
Mansfield Town: Jensen, Hunt, Tafazolli, Pearce, Benning, McGuire, Chapman, J. Thomas (Yussuf, 37), Lambe, Westcarr (N. Thomas, 75), M. Green (Collins 90).
Substitutes not used: Shearer, Rose, Beardsley, Blair.
ATTENDANCE: 1,597 (193 away).