Green strike seals fifth straight win
Mansfield Town surged into third place in the Blue Square Bet Premier table following a nervy 1-0 success over AFC Telford United at One Call Stadium.
Matt Green’s cool finish shortly after the re-start settled a somewhat one-sided tie, in which the hosts rattled the woodwork on no fewer than four occasions.
On a gloriously warm at afternoon in Nottinghamshire, the hosts dominated the early exchanges and created a flurry of good opportunities.
Chris Clements fired wide of Ryan Young’s right-hand post inside the opening 30 seconds, before Matt Green’s close-range drive was bravely blocked by debutant Simon Ford.
The Bucks were permanently penned in the final third, and almost fell behind as Louis Briscoe’s swerving 25-yard effort flew past a static Young, but crashed against the woodwork.
Mansfield continued to dominate possession and again had their counterparts worried when James Jennings’ right-sided led to a six-yard box scramble.
After a quarter-of-an-hour, Telford, rooted to the foot of the table, enjoyed a rare foray up-field and had their first chance as Jordan Rose headed wide from Ian Craney’s set-piece delivery.
But the visitors were unable to bring a halt to Mansfield’s dominance, who suffered yet more frustration when the lively Briscoe saw another attempt fly just inches over.
Following a relatively quiet period, the Stags had shot-stopper Alan Marriott to thank on the half-hour mark, as he pulled off an expert save to keep the scoreline level.
Telford frontman Steve Jones fortuitously beat Ritchie Sutton to burst clean through, but in a one-on-one with Marriott, the evergreen custodian brilliantly saved with his legs.
Sparked back into life by the Bucks’ near-miss, Mansfield were soon cursing the woodwork yet again, as Adam Murray unleashed a venomous 18-yard drive that rattled the crossbar.
Karlton Watson was then cautioned for a reckless lunge on Lee Stevenson, though Junior Daniel’s resulting set-piece strike was blocked by Jake Reid.
If ever a side weren’t having any fortune infront of goal though, it was Mansfield.
In quick succession, the Stags hit the frame of Young’s goal for a remarkable third and fourth time of what was nothing more than an utterly frustrating first period.
Green’s deep by-line cross fell kindly for Daniel at the back-post, who steered his shot against the post, before Stevenson’s teasing left-wing delivery was tipped onto the bar by a back-peddling ‘keeper.
In the dying seconds of added time, Stevenson fired into the grateful arms of Young, after accelerating his way through to reach Clements’ intelligent knock on.
However, shortly after the re-start, Mansfield finally made their breakthrough.
Watson horrendously mis-controlled a loose ball midway inside the Bucks half, which allowed Green to pounce and accelerate into a one-on-one, where he nonchalantly slipped the ball home.
A furious Young surged forward as he went to remonstrate with his careless team-mate, as Green wheeled off in celebration of his 17th strike of the campaign.
Buoyed by having established a deserved advantage, substitute Lindon Meikle came close to doubling it on 53 minutes, as he scuffed an effort narrowly wide of Young’s left-hand post.
Nevertheless, managerless Telford almost hit back through Rose, who hit a rasping 30-yard attempt through a crowded area, which ultimately forced Marriott into action.
But the Stags continued to create the better openings.
Moments after the hour-mark, in what was becoming a relentless assault on goal, Clements whistled an effort into the North Stand after a neat lay-off from Murray.
On 68 minutes, Stevenson was also off-target with a sumptuous 30-yard free-kick, which appeared destined to ripple the net until it swerved wide at the very last moment.
Moments later, Mansfield thought they had doubled their lead as Jones bundled in from close-range, but what would have been his sixth goal this term was ruled out, due to a foul on Young.
Telford were evidently tiring with each passing second, and their task became much more difficult as Watson was dismissed for a wreckless lunge on Murray, who was left clutching his ankle.
The inspirational skipper, who scooped the fans ‘Man of the Match’ award, was, nevertheless, able to continue as Mansfield continued to attack in the closing minutes.
Young held Meikle’s long-range drive and again showed superb reflexes to keep out Green’s point-blank effort, following some great work from substitute Nick Wright.
During three minutes of added time, there was a nervous edge around One Call Stadium, as the visitors almost clinched a dramatic last-gasp equaliser.
Rose, a consistent pain for Mansfield’s centre-back pairing of Sutton and Jones, rose highest inside the six-yard box to meet Bagasan Graham’s cross, but lacked accuracy with his header.
Attendance: 2,725 (67 away supporters).