Striker Matt Green netted his ninth goal of the season as Mansfield Town were defeated 3-1 by AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
Stags took a 1-0 lead into half-time but they were frustrated in their attempts to re-establish themselves in the Sky Bet League Two play-off positions by a clinical second-half display by the Dons.
Adam Murray made one change to the side that beat Stevenage at One Call Stadium last week, with Reggie Lambe coming in for Jack Thomas on the wing.
The Stags began productively with loanee James Baxendale roaming purposefully behind Matt Green and the former had an early penalty shout, but referee Fred Graham waved away the small protests.
Dons’ forward Adebayo Akinfenwa was also proving a handful up the other end of the pitch, but the visitors were frequently looking to play out from the back when they retrieved the ball from the physical forward.
And 11 minutes in, Matt Green gave Mansfield the lead with a ruthless finish. The ball fell to the ex-Birmingham City man and he buried it from close range with Dons’ goalkeeper James Shea nowhere to be seen.
Mansfield’s players were pouring into advanced positions looking for the second of the afternoon, with Green hungry for more, running the channels.
But it was the hosts who had the next opportunity of the encounter as Andy Barcham pounced on the loose ball following a set-piece, but Brian Jensen dived to his right to deny the equaliser.
The Danish stopper had to be alert moments later when a cross whipped into the box, and Jensen leapt out to push away. Lyle Taylor then had a half-chance as the Wombles began to progress into the contest, although he couldn’t control the ball at an awkward height and it flew over the bar.
Frustrating service was the reason Wimbledon couldn’t quite establish themselves as the same attacking force that Green and Baxendale were for the Stags, with Ryan Tafazolli and Krystian Pearce dealing with danger confidently.
Nicky Hunt’s composure at the back was a valuable asset and Stags needed the energy of Chris Clements and Adam Chapman to win the second ball; something they were doing prevalently.
It was that alertness that led to Stags’ best opportunity with around ten minutes before the interval, as Clements escaped with the ball and threaded a fine pass through for Lambe who took a touch before Shea closed down the angle shrewdly to deny him.
Barry Fuller tried to respond for the South West London outfit, however his left-footed drive was watched over by Jensen. An athletic Blair Adams raced down the left-hand side with half-time approaching and he delivered fiercely into the box, but Craig Westcarr could only flick it tamely with his head as the pace of the ball made it difficult to control.
Captain Fuller was once again useful striding forward from his respective right-back position – cutting in onto his left foot for a second time in the space of five minutes, Jensen was his nemesis this time with a comfortable stop.
Green was seemingly eager all afternoon and on the stroke of half-time the nine-goal attacker outpaced his marker after a superb ball by Lambe, but the defenders just caught up with him to deflect his effort over the bar.
Summing up the Dons’ dissatisfaction at their first half performance, Ben Kennedy replaced Akinfenwa at half-time as the hosts looked to improve their balance.
And It nearly reaped immediate reward as Taylor raced through one-on-one towards Jensen, and the forward deftly touched it around the ‘keeper before collecting the ball beyond him and placing in – but there was to be a twist as the linesman raised his flag, and despite celebrating wildly, the goal was chalked off.
But only seconds later, Taylor would get his revenge and subsequently the equaliser – he ran beyond Stags’ backline and slotted it underneath Jensen to finally put his side level.
The game exploded into life and Murray reacted by introducing Jamie McGuire and fellow midfielder Mitch Rose to the fray, in an attempt to bring a sense of calm to his Mansfield team who appeared to be taken aback by the second-half awakening of Wimbledon.
Hesitation at the back allowed Green a sight of goal after goalkeeper Shea had burst out of his goal, and after composing himself, the attacker coolly took it onto his left boot but pulled it wide of the mark.
A scramble ensued just outside the box before Barcham claimed the ball, took it past the defender a rifled his effort towards goal which Jensen brilliantly tipped over the bar.
But the ‘Beast’ couldn’t prevent Wimbledon taking the lead for the first time in a feisty affair - Kennedy sent in a corner for the head of Jon Meades and he powered the ball into the back of the net.
Determined not to give in, Clements executed a sensational strike as he thumped his attempt, which looked destined to nestle the net, against the post and it flew away to safety.
With only three minutes left to play, the hosts made sure of the points to leapfrog Murray’s men. Azeez ran beyond the defence and lifted the ball over Jensen and into the net.
Full-time was looming when Rose escaped the attentions of his marker, but he dragged his effort wide from an angle as the referee blew for full-time.
Wimbledon XI: Shea, Fuller, Robinson, Osborne, Meades, Bulman, Rigg, Barcham, Elliott, Taylor, Akinfenwa (Kennedy 46’)
Subs not used: McDonnell, Azeez, Beere, Fitzpatrick, Sweeney, Gallagher
Stags’ XI: Jensen, Hunt, Pearce, Tafazolli, Adams, Westcarr (Rose 53’), Chapman (Thomas 65’), Clements, Lambe, Baxendale (McGuire 53’), Green
Subs not used: Shearer, Collins, Beardsley, Blair
Attendance: 4,089 (302 away)