Frustrating night for Stags.
A first-half goal from Sean McConville was enough to beat the Stags on a frustrating evening for Adam Murray’s men.
Gaffer Adam Murray made just one change to the side that beat Notts County after Scott Shearer was unable to recover from a virus so Brian Jensen kept his place in goal, and Chris Beardsley came into the side in place of Matt Green who had a stiff back after Friday’s derby day win. Joe Fitzpatrick made up the final place in the eighteen on the substitutes' bench.
The Stags started quickly by getting crosses in to the box early on but Accrington defended well under pressure. Chris Clements was picking his passes with relative ease and the combination of Mal Benning and Reggie Lambe down the left-hand-side were managing to get forward and test Pearson, Stanley’s right-back.
Accrington’s first chance of the game came when Nathan Thomas, fresh from receiving treatment for a head injury, gave the ball away to Adam Buxton who fed Mingoia down the right but his cross was headed clear by Krystian Pearce.
The mistake didn’t seem to affect Thomas as he almost created himself a chance after thirteen minutes. Latching onto a pass from Mitchell Rose to run deep into the box, only intelligent defending by Tom Davies saw the Lancashire side clear the ball.
A minute later, Mal Benning had a chance to test Jason Mooney in the Accrington goal but his free-kick from twenty five yards out curled over the bar and into the stand.
For the following ten minutes, the Stags enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, however they couldn’t create a chance of note as the Accrington defence stood firm, not allowing the Stags to penetrate their 18-yard box.
With Accrington defending well, they started to grow in confidence, thus forcing the Stags into mistakes.. Passes started to go astray and the Accrington midfield of Crooks, Windass and Buxton started to find space in the Stags’ half.
The first real worry came on 33 minutes when Windass was fed through by Kee, however he was adjudged to be offside whilst one-on-one with Brian Jensen.
Then Stanley went ahead. After starting to build some pressure, the ball fell to McConville thirty-five yards out. The midfielder carried the ball forwards ten yards before unleashing a shot which took enough of a deflection to fly out of reach of Jensen in the Stags’ goal.
After going ahead, Accrington continued to grow in confidence and could have gone in to the break two ahead but Windass’ shot right on the stroke of half-time was deflected wide and Stags defended the resulting corner well to go in at half-time just 1-0 down.
After the second half got underway, Mitchell Rose showed the crowd that Stags were up for the second half with a crunching tackle on Adam Buxton right in front of Adam Murray’s technical area.
Early on in the second period after Mal Benning crossed low into Beardsley following some good work by Clements but the striker could only direct the ball into the hands of the imposing figure of Mooney in goal.
The early work by the Stags was to no avail as they couldn’t find a way through the Accringon defence. The first real chance of the second half fell to the hosts as Kee ran through unmarked but his poke through the legs of Jensen was unsuccessful as the Dane flicked his leg inwards to divert the ball behind for a corner.
Stags created one half-chance for themselves before the hour mark as Nathan Thomas let fly from the left-side of the box but his shot was saved by Mooney low to his right. That was Thomas’ last act of the evening as he and Adam Chapman made way for Adi Yussuf and Jack Thomas, respectively.
Mansfield tried to press but their final ball was lacking as they couldn’t turn some possession into chances. Mal Benning angled a pass down the line towards Craig Westcarr but the striker couldn’t quite reach it as the ball ran out for a goal kick.
As the half wore on, Stags started to become increasingly frustrated with Nicky Hunt going into the referee's book for a late challenge on Conneely after losing the ball. That started to set the tone for the rest of the evening as Stags continued to misplace passes and give away soft free-kicks in the process.
Stags’ had a good chance to work the ‘keeper from a free-kick when Mitch Rose was tripped by McConville 25 yards out. The resulting dead-ball was taken by Clements but he could only hit his shot straight into the wall and Stanley survived.
As the clock ticked down and Stags went in search of an equaliser, Accrington had a chance to wrap up the points. Crooks won the ball in midfield and went on a lung-busting 40-yard run before feeding Mingoia down the right. The Real Madrid academy product crossed the ball back towards the head of Crooks but the solid figure of Krystian Pearce headed the ball to Billy Kee on the edge of the box and he unleashed a shot high over the bar.
Adam Murray’s men were running out of time when the fourth official announced there’d be six minutes of added time. Just as the board went up, a scuffle ensued. With what started it a mystery, as both sets of players were involved, with the referee and his assistants trying to work out what happened. Darren England decided to book Jack Thomas, Craig Westcarr and both goalkeepers before allowing play to continue.
In the six minutes that followed, the game died out and Accrington held on to all three points.
Accrington Stanley: Mooney, Pearson, Winnard, Davies, Mingoia, Windass (Barry 77), McConville (Bruna 84), Crooks, Buxton, Conneely, Kee.
Substitutes not used: Etheridge, Morgan, Gornell, Wakefield, Wright.
Mansfield Town: Jensen, Hunt, Tafazolli, Pearce, Benning, Rose, Chapman (J Thomas 55), Clements, Lambe (Westcarr 61), N. Thomas (Yussuf 55), Beardsley.
Substitutes not used: Marsden, Caton, McGuire, Fitzpatrick.
ATTENDANCE: 1,087 (187 visitors).