Mansfield Town picked up their third consecutive win with a brilliant 2-1 victory over Morecambe at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Defender Krystian Pearce and midfielder Matty Blair got the goals for the Stags in a fantastic comeback after Kevin Ellison had given the Shrimps the advantage in the opening 60 seconds.
The hosts stood firm in the latter stages and had a sensationally in-form Scott Shearer to thank for saving two penalties from Paul Mullin and Shaun Miller respectively, and the drama didn’t end there as Adam Murray was sent to the stands late in the game.
The well-earned three points puts Mansfield in fifth position, four points off third-placed Oxford United, who the Nottinghamshire outfit travel to face on Tuesday night.
Boss Murray made one change from the side that beat Crawley Town 1-0 last week, with Craig Westcarr coming in to replace the suspended Matt Green alongside Chris Beardsley up top. Meanwhile, new loan signing Dan Alfei was named among the substitutes.
Inside the first minute, the Shrimps took the lead when Kevin Ellison took advantage of captain Lee Collins’ header, which rebounded off of Krystian Pearce, to drive into the bottom corner of Scott Shearer’s net.
The Stags nearly responded when left-back Mal Benning’s low corner was swiped goal-bound by Jamie McGuire, but the midfielder saw his effort blocked before it reached Barry Roche.
Continuing to press forward, the hosts levelled the match on 15 minutes. Matty Blair hit a shot into the ground from 25 yards out and saw it bounce off the top of Ryan Edwards’ head before it looped over the fingertips of Roche.
Despite Morecambe not offering too much going forward in the early stages of the encounter, they would have the next opportunity. Key man Ellison was inside the 18-yard-box to pounce and lash a right-footer on target which Shearer held on to at the second attempt.
Following McGuire’s chance from a corner early on, Mansfield could sense that set-pieces could be the away side’s undoing, and it would prove to be the case as Murray’s men took the lead.
Benning delivered a menacing, whipping ball for Krystian Pearce who rose highest to head the ball ruthlessly past Roche and into the back of the net.
Soon after, Jim Bentley’s side went up the other end and the heavily-involved Ellison prodded home a cross from close range, but the linesman adjudged the experienced frontman to have strayed marginally offside.
Morecambe’s forays into the attacking areas weren’t producing much for Shearer to have to deal with, however, with ten minutes of the first half remaining he would provide a heroic moment to get Stags’ supporters out of their seats.
After defender Ryan Tafazolli dragged down Andrew Fleming in the box, referee Mark Heywood pointed to the spot to hand the visitors a lifeline.
Striker Shaun Miller stepped up to take the spot-kick, which he finessed towards the bottom right-hand corner, but Shearer was even to it to palm away to safety.
Mansfield seemed happy to contain their opponents as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close, with the goalkeepers having little to do as the contest took a scrappy turn.
That is until Chris Clements burst forward with purpose and unleashed a dangerous strike from range which Roche dived at full-stretch to save.
The Stags began the second period with real energy as they looked to put the game beyond Morecambe’s reach. Beardsley was a frequent threat with his physicality, while Benning was marching down the left side of the field with meaning.
Nottinghamshire’s slippery conditions could’ve been the recipe for Shearer to have problems with his handling, but he allayed any fears of that happening when he held Jamie Devitt’s powerful effort with confidence.
Baxendale showed a great turn of pace to get past his marker and play it across the pitch for Westcarr, although the former Nottingham Forest man saw his opportunistic attempt blocked away for a corner.
After Westcarr was fouled on the right, Benning tried to catch Roche out as he fired goal-wards but the ex-Chesterfield stopper just about scurried to his near-post to claw away.
Celebrating the signing of his permanent deal at the club as time ticked by on deadline day, Baxendale had a particular spring in his step and he rifled one from distance which the goalkeeper once again had to be alert for.
Murray introduced midfielder Jack Thomas to the fray in place of Westcarr, meaning the Stags went with one up top in the shape of Beardsley, as they packed the midfield.
That subsequently meant that the middle of the park was full of Mansfield runners willingly trying to break free into space – one of those danger-men, Baxendale, came close to curling spectacularly into the bottom corner from the edge of the area but it just evaded the post.
But with the gap remaining at one goal between the two teams, the Shrimps refused to go without a fight as Devitt lined one up from 25 yards out before half-volleying well wide of the target.
Morecambe manager Jim Bentley brought on Paul Mullin – a familiar foe to deal with after the striker converted a penalty in the return fixture against the Stags less than a fortnight ago.
But it was Mullin’s forward rival Beardsley who had the next half-chance of the game as Matty Blair fed him but he blazed over the bar. That was the last action for the man looking for a second goal in two games, as he was replaced by Reggie Lambe as Murray sought extra pace.
Expected tensions began to grow in One Call Stadium amidst the latter stages, although the visitors were struggling to string passes together. However, there was controversy again as referee Mark Heywood awarded Morecambe with a penalty.
Substitute Jack Thomas was penalised for handball and the visitors had a golden opportunity to rescue a draw.
Mullin stepped up as he hoped for his second success from 12 yards in the space of ten days, but the home crowd stood up in delight as Shearer dived to his right and saved brilliantly with his legs to deny the Shrimps an equaliser.
Following the decision to award the penalty, manager Adam Murray was sent off by referee Mark Heywood for his protests.
And the Stags fought immensely in the final minutes to ensure the victory for Murray’s men, who boasted fantastic courage and discipline to keep the scoreline at 2-1.
Mansfield Town XI: Shearer, Collins (C), Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning, McGuire, Clements, Baxendale, Blair, Westcarr (Thomas 59’), Beardsley (Lambe 78’)
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Yussuf, Kavanagh, Alfei
Morecambe XI: Roche, Parrish, Dugdale, Edwards, Conlan, Fleming, Goodall (Wildig 83’), Barkhuizen (Molyneux 72’), Devitt, Ellison, Miller (Mullin 72’)
Subs not used: Kenyon, Bailey, Doyle, O’Hara
Attendance: 3,090 (98 away)