Report: Hartlepool 1-0 Mansfield
Ronnie Moore’s Hartlepool United consigned 10-man Mansfield Town to a 1-0 defeat thanks to a penalty by Brad Walker.
The only goal came at the start of the second half when Brad Walker scored from the penalty spot after midfielder Nicky Featherstone was fouled from behind by Lee Beevers.
Despite Junior Brown seeing red for a foul on the Pools’ goalscorer, the Stags finished strongly but couldn’t find the equaliser that they craved.
After a positive 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon at home in midweek, Stags’ manager Adam Murray made three changes to his starting line-up.
Centre-back Michael Raynes made his return from injury alongside new loan signing Terry Hawkridge. Midfielder Simon Heslop also started the match. Winger Reggie Lambe, striker Vadaine Oliver and defender Ryan Tafazolli were the players to be replaced.
Referee Darren Handley got the match underway and in the second minute the visitors had the first chance of the match as Beevers’ cross from the right side picked out Brown in the penalty area. Despite getting good contact on his header, the ball went wide of the goal.
Four minutes later, Hartlepool instigated a promising attack as Featherstone played a well-timed pass in front of striker Ryan Bird, who ran onto the ball and ventured goalwards. Again, Beevers was in the thick of the action again as he stuck out his boot at the last minute to send the ball behind for a corner.
As the match reached the quarter-hour mark, the Stags enjoyed a prolonged spell of possession in the attacking third and made it difficult for the Pools to get the ball forward.
The match was also halted for a brief moment when defender Scott Harrision suffered a head injury that saw him go to the sideline to receive attention.
Mansfield continued to push forward in the 19th minute as Chris Clements made his way into the penalty area after receiving a pass from Heslop and won a corner.
Clements delivered the corner himself and managed to find the head of a leaping Raynes, who was unable to put his attempt on target as it went narrowly wide of the woodwork.
As 30 minutes elapsed, Harrison was unable to completely shake off the injury suffered earlier on and was substituted for Jordan Jones.
The Pools were fronted with another issue in the 32nd minute when midfielder Aaron Tshibola escaped with just a yellow card after raising an arm against centre-back Martin Riley in the centre of the field.
Things were evened up in the 38th minute when Clements was cautioned after he broke up a promising Pools attack by fouling Featherstone.
With four minutes remaining in the first half, debutant wingman Hawkridge found the feet of striker Billy Kee who had to work hard to get ahead of his direct opponent in defender David Mirfin. The 24-year-old did well to win a corner, but the eventual in-swinging delivery from the right side from Clements bore no fruit for the visitors.
As the match entered time added on Tshibola tried his luck with a low-driven shot from outside the penalty area, but it failed to test goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley. This turned out to be the last major action as the first half finished 0-0 with the match evenly poised.
The hosts returned with a newfound impetus going forward and just two minutes into the second half they won a penalty after Beevers gave the ball away to Featherstone in the Stags’ defensive third.
The referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot when the midfielder was taken out from behind inside the area. Midfielder Brad Walker confidently converted the spot-kick after he sent Pidgeley the wrong way.
Immediately after conceding the goal, Adam Murray made two changes deciding to bring on attacking options Oliver and Lambe for Heslop and Hawkridge respectively. Mansfield had to defend resolutely to keep out a Hartlepool side motivated to go on add further goals to the tally.
The match took a disappointing turn for the Stags on the hour mark when they were reduced to 10 men when Brown was sent off after a dangerous tackle on Walker. The Pools looked to take advantage of their man advantage in the 62nd minute when Bird leapt high to get on the end of a cross but put his effort wide of goal.
Murray’s men looked to garner a reply in the 67th minute when Lambe played a delicate short-range pass to try and send Oliver in on goal. Just as the striker looked to fill his boots, the linesman ruled him offside.
The Stags’ third and final change came in the 72nd minute when striker Rakish Bingham replaced Beevers. As the visitors looked to push forward and score the equaliser, they found themselves with some more room in the penalty area. Lambe was afforded space to turn and shoot on one occasion, but his tame effort didn’t trouble ‘keeper Scott Flinders in the end.
Shortly after, a stunning long-range drive from outside the penalty area by Clements stung the palms of Flinders who was able to keep the hosts in the lead. The Stags significantly played themselves back into the match as Ronnie Moore’s men at time nervously held onto their lead.
Despite a nervous period of five minutes of time added on in the second half the Pools were able to hold on to register three crucial points as they attempt to keep their place in Sky Bet League Two for next season.
Attendance: 4,166 (317 away supporters).