Ben Hutchinson’s first-half strike proved to enough as Mansfield Town earned a narrow 1-0 victory over Gateshead in a Central (Reserve) League clash at One Call Stadium.
The Stags dominated throughout against their youthful Gateshead counterparts and would have won by a margin of more than one-goal had it not been for a mixture of bad fortune and exceptional goalkeeping.
Andy Todd’s second-string began in rampant fashion and created two opportunities in as many minutes early in the game; firstly as Louis Briscoe came close with a powerful drive from the edge of the box, before Luke Jones headed over the woodwork following a corner from Chris Clements.
Nathan Fisher’s wayward shot failed to trouble debutant Stags goalkeeper Liam Mitchell at the opposite end, but it was Mansfield who continued to create the better openings in the early stages.
Clements and Green both came close to an opener and when the second-string did have the ball in the back of the net on eight minutes courtesy of Green, the talismanic striker was denied by an offside flag.
James Brown screwed an effort wide of the target midway through the first period after he seized upon a misplaced pass from full-back Andy Owens, and on the half-hour mark Green drove a thunderous effort into the side-netting after some good work from Briscoe.
Less than ten minutes before the interval, Mansfield finally opened the scoring. Todd was tripped midway inside the Gateshead half and from the resulting free-kick, Clements delivered a superb ball towards Hutchinson, who drove his shot through a crowded six-yard box and into the bottom corner.
Matt Rhead and Lee Stevenson replaced Green and Todd respectively ahead of the second period as Mansfield also opted to switch to a more attacking 4-4-3 formation.
Gateshead shot-stopper Jordan Nixon was left untroubled as Clements and Briscoe both fired wide of the target in quick succession, though Mitchell was called into action close to the hour-mark when he expertly denied Fisher from close range.
Mansfield continued to attack with venom as the half progressed and Briscoe drew a fine save from Nixon with a well-struck shot from distance, whilst an un-named trialist also headed against the woodwork as the Stags came close to adding a second goal.
The visitors stepped up their efforts for an equaliser as the game drew towards its conclusion, but lacked any cutting-edge infront of goal and failed to test Mitchell.
With less than four minutes remaining, Briscoe delivered a curling right-footed free-kick which fell fortuitously into the arms of Nixon, but nevertheless Mansfield remained resolute as they held on to record a victory that moves them up to second-place in the Central League.
Mansfield: Mitchell, Beevers, Jones (c) (A.Trialist 55), Tafazolli, Owens, Todd (Stevenson 46), Clements, A.Trialist, Briscoe, Matt Green (Rhead 46), Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Rogers, Shaw, Jake Green.