A game of very few clear cut chances was won by the hosts five minutes from time as Scott Boden’s controversial effort from 12 yards out secured three points for the South Wales outfit.
Newport’s Boden pounced on his captain Mark Bryne’s scuffed shot to turn and fire home left-footed from inside the box, despite appearing to be stood in an offside position as the ball was played through to him.
Striker Matt Green had the Stags’ best chance of the game when James Baxendale’s deep cross from the right fell to debutant Colin Daniel, he set the ball back to Green and the forward’s effort hit the inside of the post and bounced away from danger.
Five minutes into the second-half the Stags had the ball in the net, only for the assistant referee’s flag to deny them the lead when centre-half Ryan Tafazolli was deemed to be offside as his looping header hit the back of the net.
The Rodney Parade pitch was covered in thirty tonnes of sand before today’s game, due to ground-sharing with two local rugby clubs, and the pitch played havoc with both sides’ attempts to get the ball down and play.
The Stags’ latest recruit Colin Daniel came straight into Adam Murray’s side following his loan move from Sky Bet League 1 outfit Port Vale.
Stags’ boss, Murray, made three changes to the side that beat Dagenham & Redbridge last Saturday with midfielder Adam Chapman, striker Chris Beardsley and the suspended Krystian Pearce being replaced by Jamie McGuire, James Baxendale and new-boy Daniel.
The first chance of the game fell to Newport forward Conor Wilkinson and Stags’ ‘keeper Scott Shearer had to be alert to parry his effort away from close-range following a small scramble in the box.
Moments later, Mansfield centre-half Lee Collins, headed John-Christophe Ayina’s cross away from inside his own six-yard box as Scott Boden looked destined to open the scoring.
Stags’ forward Matt Green was booked after bundling over County centre-half Darren Jones following an accumulation of early fouls resulted in him being the first name in referee Gavin Ward’s book.
On the half-hour mark, Wilkinson, who is loan from Bolton Wanderers, warmed the palms of Shearer with a sweetly struck left-footed volley, but it was not enough to trouble the Stags’ stopper.
Exiles’ midfielder Mark Bryne set his sights five minutes later but his curling effort whistled past Shearer’s left-hand post after Medy Elito squared the ball from the left.
After the Stags enjoyed the early pressure in the second-half, it was the hosts who had the first chance of the second period. Wilkinson laid the ball back to Elito, who hit a powerfully struck shot towards the bottom corner but Lee Collins was on hand to block his effort in front of ‘keeper Shearer.
Adam Murray looked to inspire his side to three points when he brought on forward Adi Yussuf for James Baxendale and pushed Daniel out onto the left-wing.
Just past the hour mark, midfielder Chris Clements let fly from outside box and his powerful strike went only inches over Joe Day’s cross bar.
The home side responded by launching an attack of their own, Wilkinson played a neat one-two with Frenchman John-Christophe Ayina whose low cross flashed across the face of goal and somehow stayed out with substitute Yan Klukowski stood just inches away from the goal line.
Stags’ boss Murray brought on Sean Kavanagh for debutant Daniel and Mitchell Rose for midfielder Matty Blair as he made his final roll of the dice twenty minutes from time.
Substitute Yussuf almost broke the deadlock ten minutes from time when fellow substitute Kavanagh’s whipped ball in from the right was flicked on by Yussuf, but the ball went just wide of the right-hand post.
Five minutes from time, striker Scott Boden dramatically clinched the three points.
The ball fell to him 12 yards from goal after Darren Jones’ scuffed shot, and the striker turned and fired the ball home after appearing to be in an offside position, which was confirmed post-match after watching a video replay.
The Stags’ players were furious, Scott Shearer receiving a yellow card for his protestations, but despite referee Gavin Ward having a long chat with his assistant, the goal was awarded.
The fourth official indicated there would be a minimum of five minutes to be added on at the end of the game and midfielder Clements had a chance to salvage something for the Stags, but his half-volley from the edge of the box just missed the angle of crossbar and post.
Newport County XI: Day (GK), Holmes, Barrow (Klukowski 64’), Jones, Davies, Elito, Wilkinson (Morgan 80’), Hughes, Ayina, Boden, Bryne (Capt.).
Unused subs: Green (GK), Donacien, Owen-Evans, Parselle, Meechan.
Mansfield Town XI: Shearer (GK), Benning, Collins, Clements, Green, Daniel (Kavanagh 72’), Tafazolli, Blair (Rose 68’), McGuire, Alfei, Baxendale (Yussuf 56’).
Unused subs: Jensen (GK), Chapman, Beardsley, Thomas.
Attendance: 2,361 (172 away fans)