Second-string put up valiant effort against the Brewers and are unlucky not to snatch a point.
Our reserve team were unable to gain their first win of the campaign in the Final Third Development League (East Division) as they slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion.
On a bitterly cold winter’s afternoon at St George’s Park, the match proved to be very similar to our first team’s defeat away at the Brewers just over a fortnight ago.
The Stags found themselves 2-0 down at half-time courtesy of goals by Liam Slade and Mirsa Sejdic, before Simon Heslop halved the deficit within a few minutes of the re-start.
Substitute Anthony Dwyer then had a goal disallowed, whilst Alex Fisher and Matt Rhead also went close on a couple of occasions, as Burton defended resolutely to record three points.
Our second-string will now be hoping to finally register a victory tomorrow night when they host Doncaster Rovers in their last Final Third Development League group game.
Despite a swirling wind making conditions for both teams, the Stags, wearing their change strip of royal blue, adjusted well in the early exchanges and made things difficult for their opponents.
The first chance of the game was for Mansfield and it fell to Fisher on six minutes.
The striker latched onto a beautifully weighted pass by Rhead, but despite being in a one-on-one with Scott Shearer, the Scottish custodian came out on top – pulling off a smart low save.
Although the Brewers had a couple of early corners, the Stags still looked dangerous whenever they pressed forward and again went close when Fisher flashed a teasing ball through the six-yard box, but despite Rhead being in a good position, a Burton defender got to the ball ahead of him and knocked it away from the danger zone.
Mansfield were then hit by a sucker-punch midway through the first half, as they fell behind against the run of play.
Slade, the Brewers’ right-back, broke forward down the flank and shared a clever one-two with a team-mate before finishing with aplomb from the edge of the area to give his side an advantage.
Things could have got worse less than 60 seconds later, this time as Marcus Dinanca found himself with the goal at his mercy following a defence-splitting through ball, but the forward unleashed a stab-shot which clipped the outside of the post and went wide.
The Stags responded with a good period of pressure and broke past the home defence on a couple of occasions, but couldn’t make things pay.
On 26 minutes, the excellent Joe Fitzpatrick and winger Reggie Lambe linked up in a quick and clever sweeping move from left to right, and after sharing a one-two, Fitzpatrick skewed an effort over from about 10 yards, with the angle being against him.
Simon Heslop then let fly with a 25-yard strike a minute later, which bounced up and went narrowly wide of Shearer’s right-hand post.
However, just four minutes before half-time, Burton heaped further misery on the Stags by scoring a simple goal to double their lead.
Marcus Harness picked up the ball on the right flank and whipped a teasing cross towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Sedjic got in between Liam Marsden and Corbin Shires, and planted a firm header into the goal.
The Stags now faced an uphill battle to try and get back into the game, but hope of a comeback was restored within two minutes of the re-start as Lambe played a low ball through towards an advancing Heslop, who upon entering the area, opened up his body and placed the ball into the bottom-left corner of Shearer’s goal.
With the deficit halved, the visitors instantly began to look brighter and two minutes later, Lambe almost scored a sublime goal, but his powerful half-volley from 22 yards was expertly tipped over by a full-stretch Shearer.
Lambe went close again just shy of the hour mark as Mansfield continued to press forward, and it proved to be the Bermudan’s last real mark on the game, with teenager Dwyer coming on to replace him after 63 minutes.
Burton’s defence tired as the match wore on, which meant they began to defend deeper as the Stags applied plenty of pressure.
On 69 minutes, Fisher went close to an equaliser as he was in the right place at the right time to meet with Jamie McGuire’s back-post knockdown from Lee Beevers’ cross, but the frontman blazed over from around eight yards with the goal gaping.
The Stags thought they had grabbed a deserved equaliser with a quarter of an hour remaining when Dwyer emphatically finished from a couple of yards, but the youngster had strayed beyond the last defender in an attempt to reach Marsden’s quality delivery into the box, and the flag quickly went up for offside.
Five minutes later, Rhead was stopped in his tracks due to a linesman’s flag when he had got into a good goalscoring position, before the Stags spurned a glorious opening on 82 minutes as Dwyer got to the byline and smashed the ball across the face of goal towards Fisher, whose glancing flick goalwards was knocked off the line.
Dwyer was narrowly off target in the closing minutes as Burton held on to record a 2-1 victory, and pick up the three points on offer.
Team: Studer, Marsden, Beevers, Dempster (Slone), Shires, Fitzpatrick, Heslop, McGuire, Lambe (Dwyer), Fisher, Rhead.