Mansfield Town fell to a last-gasp 1-0 defeat against Yeovil Town at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags were the better side throughout the afternoon, with Reggie Lambe, Lee Collins and Matt Green all testing the opposition goalkeeper Artur Krysiak, but they were left frustrated despite their endeavours to get the three points.
Yeovil went into the contest on the back of just three defeats in their last 14 Sky Bet League 2 fixtures, and they were defensively solid as they aimed to increase their hopes of survival in the division.
The Glovers looked as if they were content with a draw, but a swift second-half injury-time attack saw Ryan Dickson secure the three points.
Manager Adam Murray made two changes to the side that were beaten 1-0 by Newport County last week, as Adam Chapman, who was playing with a broken nose, and Reggie Lambe came in to replace Jamie McGuire and Matty Blair, with the latter unavailable for selection due to illness.
There was a home debut for loanee Colin Daniel, who lined up on the left-wing as part of a 4-2-3-1 system deployed by the manager, which saw James Baxendale playing just behind Matt Green.
Meanwhile, the Glovers announced the signing of ex-Premier League striker Leroy Lita an hour before the match and he was named on their substitutes’ bench.
The Stags had the first opportunity of the encounter when Matt Green laid off Lambe who rifled a shot goal-bound but it was pushed out by goalkeeper Artur Krysiak. On the follow up, a defender attempted to get the ball clear and it smashed off the face of James Baxendale and could’ve gone anywhere, although it ended up dropping just wide of the post.
That would be the only clear-cut opening of the first quarter of an hour, with the visitors struggling to get out of their own half as the Stags put the visitors’ back four under siege.
And it was Adam Chapman who created the next piece of drama for Murray’s men, as he drifted in a corner which Lambe collected at the far post, but it didn’t sit right for the Bermudian and he blazed over.
But the Glovers hit back as the Stags’ defence failed to clear a lofted delivery into the 18-yard-box – the ball was pushed to Francois Zoko who was thwarted by an alert Scott Shearer, before Harry Cornwick got the rebound which went inches wide.
Soon after, Green was played through on goal and just as he was about the pull the trigger, Connor Roberts scurried back to make a last-ditch tackle to slide the ball out of play.
The full-backs were key to Mansfield’s offensive play and they linked up for Stags’ next effort – Daniel Alfei threaded it to Mal Benning who was 30 yards from goal, and Krysiak watched the shot fly comfortably wide.
And that epitomised the first 45 minutes for Mansfield, who despite all their positive play, went into the interval with no goals to show for it, with Yeovil not finding the net either.
Half-time didn’t disrupt Stags’ verve as they began the second period with purpose, stringing passes together and making Darren Way’s side chase their every move. On a bracingly cold afternoon in Nottinghamshire, Lee Collins warmed Krysiak’s palms from a corner with a free header from seven yards out.
Conditions deteriorated as hail teemed down on the muddy turf, as players from both sides fought to overcome the weather to put on an attractive game of football. However, the hosts’ forward moves were proving frustrating with the Somerset outfit getting bodies behind the ball valiantly.
Murray introduced striker Adi Yussuf in place of Daniel in a bid to add a bit more bite, which was required in the attacking third, to get Stags’ supporters on the edge of their seats in the blustery conditions.
Cultured midfielder Chris Clements did just that, as he received a pass from Lambe and advanced forward, but his drive from distance was dragged wide. Baxendale had a crack of his own moments later as Mansfield upped the ante further, but he saw it evade the crossbar by some margin.
Centre-half Ryan Tafazolli was performing excellently at the back, winning a number of headers and dealing well with the threat of Francois Zoko, which the home crowd were appreciative of.
With the majority of the afternoon’s attendance buoyed, they were encouraging their legion as they surged forward, and that almost led to goals. Green escaped the attentions of defender Nathan Smith and went through on goal, but his attempted chip was smartly saved.
Then came the closest that the Stags came to breaking the deadlock. Reggie Lambe received the ball 25 yards out and hit a tremendous curling effort towards the top corner, but Artur Krysiak reacted brilliantly to fingertip it on to the crossbar.
Yussuf coming on appeared to have injected some much-needed energy into the Stags, and the Tanzanian charged his way through the Glovers’ defence before he was snaffled out by Krysiak, and danger was averted once more.
Despite Murray’s men dominating, the opposition were still offering a threat and the experienced Marc Laird drove one towards Shearer’s near-post and the 34-year-old Scotsman was alert to the danger to make a good stop and turn it behind for a corner.
Substitute Tahvon Campbell then curled a low shot from 20 yards out, but Shearer was again aware of his surroundings as he calmly witnessed it go wide.
Murray used up his substitution allowance by bringing on Sean Kavanagh and Jack Thomas for James Baxendale and Adam Chapman, trying to create more energy to provide for strikers Yussuf and Green who were looking full threatening in the final third.
Just as the encounter was petering out for a draw, there was late drama. Substitute Brandon Goodship found himself on the left-wing and cut it back from the byline for Ryan Dickson, who slammed it home to secure the Glovers a crucial three points, and consigned Mansfield to an unlikely home defeat.
Stags’ XI: Shearer, Alfei, Collins (C), Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman (Thomas 81’), Clements, Daniel (Yussuf 63’), Lambe, Baxendale (Kavanagh 75’), Green
Subs not used: Jensen, Rose, Beardsley, McGuire
Yeovil XI: Krysiak, Dickson, Smith, Ward, Roberts, Tozer, Dolan (Campbell 56’), Laird, Cornick (Goodship 79’), Zoko (Bird 56’), Dawson
Subs not used: Weale, Sokolik, Lacey, Lita
Attendance: 2,713 (183 away)