Mansfield Town were inflicted only a second home defeat of the season as they lost 2-0 to Wycombe Wanderers at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags were dominant throughout and had chances aplenty to earn something from the game, but were frustrated with Wycombe performing stoutly and ultimately landing two sucker-punching blows in either half to grab maximum points.
Adam Murray, in his 50th game in charge, made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Portsmouth at Fratton Park last weekend, with midfielders Jamie McGuire and Matty Blair coming into the side in place of Chris Clements and Mitch Rose – it was the Blair’s first involvement in the starting line-up since January 31 after a long lay-off from a cruciate ligament injury.
Stags got off to a relatively comfortable start and could’ve taken the lead in the early stages but Adam Chapman’s thumping drive was well held by Matt Ingram in the Wycombe goal as he dived quickly to his left.
Ingram was a prevalent feature in last season’s encounter in Nottinghamshire between the two teams and he was called into action once again a couple of minutes later as Matt Green got room inside the area, but he saved again.
Mansfield were dealt a blow though on eight minutes when the Chairboys took the lead. A cross came in from the right and Paul Hayes calmly nodded the ball back to Luke O’Nien, who directed his header past Brian Jensen and into the back of the net.
Despite looking like having a hold of the game and getting the ball in potentially dangerous areas, the hosts couldn’t quite find that killer pass with moves coming to an abrupt halt. But Murray’s men did get into their stride to impose themselves on the contest a little more not long after.
Green got himself in a promising position and turned away from a defender, however his pass just escaped Matty Blair on the slick surface. On Halloween weekend Craig Westcarr received the ball into the path of his right foot and nearly served up a treat, although his attempted curler into the top corner went over the bar.
Left-back loanee Blair Adams continued the decent spell of pressure from the Stags and ran free from his marker, but his effort went over the woodwork when he maybe should’ve done better.
Chapman lined up in the centre of midfield for the Stags and began to dictate play with his runs providing an element of unpredictability for the visitors to think about.
Only a heroic block from Aaron Pierre denied Westcarr’s powerful pile-driver just past the half-hour mark with the One Call Stadium crowd becoming increasingly enthused by the attacking attentions of their team.
Wycombe started to get slightly frustrated with their lack of action towards Jensen’s goal with Thompson finding himself in the referee’s notebook for a late challenge on Reggie Lambe.
Lambe started to find space in behind the lone striker and he threaded a ball through for the onrushing Adams whose dangerous cross skidded past the waiting batch of Mansfield players and out of play.
Gareth Ainsworth’s men got their first corner only four minutes from half-time which epitomised their sucker-punching first-half style – when the set-piece was subsequently cleared, Jason McCarthy came inches close from doubling the advantage with a deft flick that zipped wide.
Seconds before the break, Mansfield broke with speed as Green found Westcarr and the former Nottingham Forest man delivered cutely for Blair, who saw his effort thwarted before seeing the offside flag raised.
And that would be the last action for Blair on his first start for nine months, as he was withdrawn at the break for Adi Yussuf as the Stags switched to a more rigid 4-4-2 formation, and the Tanzanian immediately looked lively in the opening exchanges of the second-half. He grafted hard for a corner and Chapman’s cross found the head of Lee Collins who rose above his marker to head goal-bound, but
Ingram stretched to palm away.
The Buckinghamshire outfit broke free on the counter-attack as O’Nien whipped an out-swinging cross for Sam Wood who couldn’t get clean contact on the ball and the danger was cleared.
Wycombe then had a glorious opportunity to score another with ex-Scunthorpe United forward Paul Hayes getting sent through, but Jensen was rapidly off his line to close down the angles and take the pace off the former’s cleverly tried dink.
Manager Murray reacted and freshened up his side with the introduction of Chris Clements at the heart of midfield. That change spelled the best move of the match by Mansfield, as neat play ensued through the middle of the pitch before Westcarr was fed just inside the box, but his shot was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Stags’ tempo was well and truly rising with the speed going forward providing a bit of much needed zest to the attack, however the delicateness in the final pass was lacking in their quest for an equaliser.
Green burst forward, tussling with the challenging centre-halves on his back, and he struck a left-footed attempt which was deflected behind.
The frontman was involved in another battle with the ball played into his feet, and he used his body well, got a yard and saw an attempt subsequently go for a corner again. Green skewed over once more as Mansfield sought a tenth goal in the month of October, as it looked like it wasn’t going to go their way despite their endeavours.
Wycombe were rarely foraging forward into threatening areas with much of their play collapsing at the hands of Stags’ defenders Ryan Tafazolli and Lee Collins who were keen to get hold of possession and spring their side forward.
Deflections weren’t falling to the feet of the home side’s players, and substitute Nathan Thomas nearly got himself on the scoresheet with great tricks to advance towards goal, but Ingram was in the right spot to further enhance his importance to his side by saving with his legs.
With the supporters urging their side forward, Westcarr showed admirable skill to find a yard of space and he angled a shot for Ingram’s near post but the shot-stopper’s outstretched hand made sure the Stags had to settle for a corner.
Stags continued to press and Chapman’s cross curled nicely into the area for the head of Green, who misjudged the flight and diverted wide.
The Chairboys were professional in their efforts to snuff out the danger as four minutes of added-time was indicated – and the hosts just couldn’t get the rub of the green, despite creating a number of chances and limiting Wycombe to very few.
In second-half injury time, Mansfield were harrying for a leveller but the opposition sealed the contest with their second goal of the afternoon. Aaron Amadi-Holloway raced through towards goal and rifled into the back of the net beyond Jensen to secure all three points went back to Buckinghamshire.
Stags' XI: Jensen, Collins, Chapman, M Green, Westcarr, Tafazolli, Hunt (C), Blair (Yussuf 45’), Lambe (N Thomas 69’), McGuire (Clements 53’), Adams.
Subs not used: Shearer, Rose, Beardsley, J Thomas.
Wycombe XI: Ingram, Jombati, Jacobson, McCarthy, Pierre, Harriman, O'Nien, Bean, Wood (Bloomfield 86’), Hayes (Ugwu 82’), Thompson (Amadi-Holloway 68’)
Subs not used: Lynch, Sellers, McGinn, Kretzschmar.
Attendance: 3,165 (345)