Super Stags win at Woking
Goals from Louis Briscoe and Matt Jones earned Mansfield Town a magnificent victory over Woking, on a rainy night at the Kingfield Stadium.
The Stags, who have now won six successive league games, went ahead in the controversial circumstances as Briscoe’s effort was initially ruled out due to offside.
Woking equalised when Bradley Bubb converted a debatable spot-kick midway through the second period, but the Cards were beaten courtesy of Luke Jones’ thumping late header.
Manager Paul Cox made two changes to his side, with Adam Chapman, who joined on loan from Oxford United earlier in the day, and Exodus Geohaghon both named in the XI.
Despite a pre-match warning that the hosts were experiencing difficulties with the power supply which serves the Kingfield Stadium, the Stags shone brightly in the early exchanges.
However, neither Chapman, nor left-back James Jennings, was able to create a clear-cut opening with corners, as Woking were penned back during the first five minutes.
Garry Hill’s side gradually managed to establish a foothold and following a short period of pressure, registered their first chance when Bubb’s vicious drive drew Alan Marriott into action.
On what was a gluepot of a pitch, Mansfield won another corner, when Adam Newton cut out Lee Stevenson’s dangerous back-post cross towards Junior Daniel on 16 minutes.
Frustratingly though, the hosts defended Chapman’s resulting set-piece ball with relative ease, which preceded a tepid period of little goalmouth action.
The Stags were dominating possession, but created opportunities at infrequent intervals.
Although Briscoe flashed a teasing drive through the six-yard box and Junior Daniel also blazed over from the edge of the area, Woking shot-stopper Seb Brown wasn’t called into action.
The Cards, gritty and resolute, soon carved out a great opportunity as Kevin Betsy’s ball released Bubb, whose low drive deflected off Jennings and fell just inches wide.
In a clash which became scrappier with each passing minute, Chapman then came close to a debut strike with an instinctive 18-yard snap-shot that went wide on the half-hour mark.
And Mansfield soon took the lead in the most bizarre circumstances.
Briscoe, unmarked on the cusp of the area, whipped an in-swinging left-footed ball towards the back-post, and it appeared to take a touch as it crept into the bottom corner.
The linesman judged Matt Green to be in an offside position and duly raised his flag, which prompted furious protests from several players in the vicinity of the incident.
Controversially, just when it appeared the effort would be chalked off, referee Lee Swaby went to consult with his assistant and awarded a goal – insisting that nobody had touched Briscoe’s delivery.
Woking felt a deep sense of injustice over the incident and frustrations threatened to boil over in the approach to half-time, as Betsy unnecessarily lunged into Marriott.
Mansfield looked more assured after the break and almost doubled their advantage within a minute of the re-start, through the creative Chapman.
His low long-range drive was expertly tipped round the post by a full-stretch Brown, who was then left helpless as Jennings’ resulting set-piece caused pandemonium in his area.
Stevenson’s bullet header looked destined to hit the net, especially as Green lurked dangerously in the six-yard box, but somehow the Woking defence managed to clear the danger.
The Stags again had their opponents at full-stretch moments later, as Jayden Stockley blocked Adam Murray’s low drive through a crowded six-yard box following Jones’ flick.
Green then curled a 20-yard effort straight at Brown, which forced the Cards into shuffling their pack as Gavin McCallum replaced full-back Mike Cestor in a tactical move.
Both teams were now battling hard in this gruesome pound-for-pound encounter, which remained thoroughly in the balance as the hour-mark approached.
Jon Nutter, operating on the left flank, had already seen a warning shot smothered by Marriott on 64 minutes, before the part-time hosts finally drew level midway through the second period.
Brett Johnson tumbled to the ground in dramatic fashion under a challenge from Daniel inside the area, but to the Stags horror, the referee sounded his whistle and pointed to the spot.
The decision was very harsh, through Bubb didn’t care less as he stepped forward and stuck his confident spot-kick under Marriott’s body, to bring the scores level.
However, as Mansfield have proved on numerous occasions this term, they aren’t a side who will stand around and feel sorry for themselves.
Matt Rhead’s introduction in favour of Lee Stevenson with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining was the catalyst for a winner, which duly arrived less than two minutes later.
Jennings swung another fantastic cross deep into the six-yard box, and Rhead’s presence allowed an unmarked Jones to ghost in and head powerfully into the net.
Rain lashed down on an already dreadful surface in the closing stages, as the Stags courageously stuck to their game-plan to record their eighth win in nine away outings.
Attendance: 1,179 (140 away supporters).