Three second half goals secured a third consecutive win for the Stags after they ran out 3-0 winners against Newport County AFC this afternoon.
After a first half of very few chances, Craig Westcarr fired Mansfield in front with a close range strike after a clever chipped pass by Jack Thomas. Malvind Benning doubled the scoreline with an unbelievable volley from around 25-yards out before Adi Yussuf rounded off the contest with a low finish in stoppage time to end the game in style.
Stags were unchanged from last Saturday’s dramatic late win at Dagenham & Redbridge, with goal scorers Malvind Benning, Krystian Pearce and Matt Green all in Adam Murray’s starting XI while Adi Yussuf had to settle for a spot on the bench. Midfielder Chris Clements, who limped off with a groin injury in the defeat at Luton three weeks ago, made a sooner-than-expected recovery and was fit enough to be named amongst the substitutes.
Mansfield started the match the brighter of the two sides by consistently keeping the ball in their opponents half. Particularly a threat down the left-hand side, Benning and Reggie Lambe linked up well to allow the former a sight on goal from the edge of the area, but the defender rifled his low strike across the turf in to the palms of County ‘keeper Joe Day.
Benning was at the heart of almost every influential move for the hosts during the opening stages and he almost registered an early assist. The full-back whipped in a ball across the face of goal which Exiles’ defender Matt Taylor almost turned past his own ‘keeper with a miscued header towards Day’s near post.
With clear-cut chances very few and far between, Mansfield registered their most meaningful chance just a few minutes before the half-time interval. Jack Thomas curled in a beautifully weighted cross in to the penalty area with Matt Green throwing himself at the ball, only to see his diving header smartly kept out at the back-post by Day.
Newport had one chance of note right at the end of the half with midfielder Yan Klukowski’s drive from deep allowing him to thread the ball through to centre-forward Zak Ansah, but the Charlton loanee’s strike was at a comfortable height for Stags’ ‘keeper Brian Jensen to hold.
With the home side continuing from where they left off after the break, the deadlock was duly broken in spectacular fashion once again five minutes after the restart.
The ever-present Benning once again played his part by lofting in a pin-point ball from the left-hand side to the feet of Jack Thomas, who daintily flicked it over the defender’s head with his first touch. His delicate chip landed directly into the path of the oncoming Craig Westcarr and the forward had all the time in the world to watch the ball come down on to his boot before lashing past the despairing Day and into the back of the net.
A wonderful finish to cap off a terrific move by the Stags and one almost became two moments later when centre-half Ryan Tafazolli came close to adding to his tally of three for the season by looping a header towards the back-post that forced Day into finger-tipping over the crossbar.
Newport had previously struggled to make much of an impact on the game but they were handed a huge chance when Alex Rodman burst through on goal. The substitute ran through the defence before going one-on-one with Jensen, but the Danish stopper smothered the former Aldershot man’s toe-poked effort.
The best way to respond to coming under threat is to fight fire with fire, and the excellent performance from Benning got even better with an absolutely breath-taking strike that left the crowd in awe.
Jack Thomas raced down the touch-line before crossing outwardly towards the edge of the penalty area and that man Benning struck the sweetest of volleys that within a blink of an eye nestled sensationally into the top right-hand corner of the net which sent the Stags’ fan into raptures.
The Exiles needed a life-line and they almost found one when Ansah found a yard of space to manoeuvre and sent a rasping drive goal-bound, but Jensen was fully behind the strike after using both gloves to parry it away to safety.
With Murry already sending on Mitch Rose for Lambe, Chris Clements made his return to action six minutes from the end after replacing Jack Thomas who impressed with the graft he put in from midfield. Adi
Yussuf also made a cameo appearance for the final few minutes of the contest as a substitute for Green up front.
It may have only been a short run out for last week’s match-winner, but the Tanzanian forward made his moment count for the second game running by firing the Stags’ third in stoppage time after swivelling away from his marker before shooting low past the out-stretched arm of Day.
With the additional time up, referee Stephen Martin brought an end to the contest with the win seeing Mansfield Town rise to fourth place in the Sky Bet League Two table.
Mansfield Town: Jensen, Benning, Pearce, Tafazolli, Hunt, McGuire, Chapman, J. Thomas (Clements, 84), Lambe (Rose, 77), Westcarr, M. Green (Yussuf, 86).
Substitutes not used: Shearer, Collins, N.Thomas, Blair.
Newport County: Day, Holmes (Ofori-Twumasi, 26), Barrow, M. Taylor, Elito, Klukowski (Rodman, 64), Ansah, John-Lewis (Boden, 64), Donacien, Bennett, Byrne.
Substitutes not used: R. Taylor, Blackwood, Partridge, Parselle.
ATTENDANCE: 3,278 (119 away).