Stags cruise to victory over Silkmen
Magnificent Mansfield Town cruised to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table with a comfortable victory over Macclesfield Town at One Call Stadium.
Talisman Matt Green converted Adam Murray’s pin-point free-kick as the hosts dominated throughout, before Luke Jones doubled the advantage shortly prior to the break.
Lee Stevenson then sealed all three points with a thunderbolt strike early in the second half, as the Stags stung the managerless Silkmen yet again.
But Macclesfield did at least leave North Nottinghamshire having netted a consolation, as Pablo Mills knocked home Ryan Jackson’s cross in the dying stages.
Buoyed by a magnificent and expectant One Call Stadium crowd, the Stags began in ferocious fashion as they tore into their lacklustre counterparts from the outset.
In just the second minute, both Anthony Howell and Lee Stevenson were excellently denied by Silkmen shot-stopper Rhys Taylor, following Adam Murray’s cross into the area.
The Stags looked full of energy as they dominated possession and moments later Junior Daniel came close with a low drive through the six-yard box following a teasing 25-yard run.
Macclesfield, who last week parted company with boss Steve King, registered their first chance when John Paul Kissock hit a bobbling drive into Alan Marriott’s grasp on 10 minutes.
Nevertheless, it was the hosts who continued to attack with venom.
Talisman Matt Green soon came close to an opener when he almost reached Lee Beevers’ back-post delivery, before Silkmen right-back Ryan Jackson cynically fouled Lee Stevenson.
Jackson incredibly escaped without a caution for the offence, but from Adam Murray’s subsequent free-kick, the sloppy visitors suffered an even greater punishment.
Murray’s right-footed ball into the six-yard box was flicked on by Green and nestled beautifully in the bottom corner, which drew eruptions of cheers from a euphoric home crowd.
With a lead established, the Stags quickly sought to double their advantage and it so nearly happened as Luke Jones headed over following Murray’s back-post corner.
Daniel then whistled a shot yards wide, before Jones was forced into defensive duties with an important block from Kissock’s 18-yard drive midway through the first period.
In truth, the Silkmen, clearly punctured by being unable to make the play-offs, offered little going forward and Sam Wedgury wasted a promising counter-attack on the half-hour mark.
Mansfield remained in control as they chased every loose ball and hustled their counterparts, and again came within a few inches of doubling their slender lead.
Greg Taylor’s long-throw was collected by Daniel, who brilliantly spun away from his marker and unleashed a 25-yard thunderbolt, which was diverted wide by Pablo Mills.
No danger was caused from the resulting corner as; instead, Jack Mackreth broke away down the right channel and ultimately drew a fine save from Alan Marriott.
But any flickering hopes Macclesfield may have held about a comeback prior to half-time, were extinguished as Mansfield doubled their money in superb set-piece style.
Murray, located on the right flank, whipped another inviting cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Jones thumped a header beyond a despairing Rhys Taylor.
Macclesfield were at best lacklustre, and at worst lethargic, and they were again ruthlessly punished shortly after the re-start as Mansfield magnificently added a third.
Louis Briscoe found Stevenson with an intelligent chipped pass that split an already wide-apart back four, and the midfielder made no mistake as he seized the initiative and fired home.
With all three points essentially sealed by this stage, some may have forgiven the Stags if they had eased their pressure and cast an eye towards Saturday’s testing trip to Braintree Town.
But epitomised by the fighting spirit of Murray, who magnificently tracked back to prevent Guy Madjo when it seemed certain the substitute would score, Mansfield continued to look dangerous.
Green, whose earlier strike had took him to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier scoring charts, enjoyed two chances before he was replaced by Matt Rhead in the closing stages.
Nevertheless, fellow substitute Lindon Meikle came close to registering a deserved fourth goal for the rampant hosts, with a long-range effort that flew just wide of the target.
Rhead powerfully headed wide following a Murray corner in the final ten minutes, whilst Daniel was also twice denied at point-blank range by Rhys Taylor.
But the ardent travelling contingent of 60 did at least have one reason to cheer prior to the full-time whistle, as Mills converted Jackson’s left-wing cross in the dying stages.
Attendance: 3,694 (60 away supporters).