Report: Newport 2-3 Stags
Mansfield Town got their season off to a perfect start after a dramatic stoppage-time winner from new signing Kevan Hurst sealed the win for Adam Murray's men.
The Stags were twice pulled back by their South Wales hosts, but Newport ran out of time to respond to Hurst's 93rd minute pearler.
Stags led in both the first and second half through strikes from new front pairing Matt Green and Danny Rose, but Newport thought they had a point in the bag following goals from two free-kicks. But Hurst, and Mansfield, had other ideas.
It was a deserved win for Mansfield, who will be encouraged by some promising passages of play, as well as their impressive finishing.
Stags’ starting line-up featured four of Adam Murray’s nine new signings.
Rhys Bennett, the former Rochdale player, started at right back with George Taft, the ex-Burton Albion defender, also in the backline.
Hurst, with Southend last season, starred in midfield whilst frontman Danny Rose, who signed from Bury for an undisclosed fee, was in attack.
Stags donned their classy new all white away strip for the first time.
And it was a striking start by Adam Murray’s men, who began brightly by registering their first entry into the Newport box inside the opening two minutes. Mitchell Rose crossed from the right but nobody was able to connect in the centre.
Newport’s first chance of the season came on five minutes following a free-kick on the Stags’ right flank, but Mark Randall’s delivery into the box was too deep.
Good defending by Stags’ skipper Lee Collins prevented a Newport opening two minutes later. Randall’s attempted ball over the top was directed towards Marlon Jackson, but Collins made a vital intervention before being pulled to the ground by the County attacker.
Newport clipped the bar on ten minutes.
Randall slipped it to Sean Rigg, whose audacious 30 yard effort flicked the top of the bar before sailing over.
But it was Stags who were to draw first blood and from a likely source.
Matt Green, who bagged 16 goals for the club last season, opened his account for the new season on 12 minutes.
A well-worked move on the left began with midfielder Chris Clements, who found the advancing Hurst, darting down the left flank. And his pin point delivery was met by the head of Green, heading home from outside the goal area.
There were scenes of early jubilation amongst the Stags’ faithful, some of whom had a perfect view of the goal close by in the main stand.
Only the offside flag was to deny a second goal for Mansfield on 16 minutes.
Mal Benning swept in a right-flank free kick, causing chaos inside a congested home box, and Green slammed the ball low into the net.
But Stags’ joy was short lived by the sight of a linesman’s flag.
Newport were level from a free-kick of their own on 18 minutes. Jack Compton’s well-struck shot from 25-yards flew over the Stags’ wall and low into the corner of the net to beat a diving Scott Shearer.
At the other end, Hurst delivered a free kick from the left touchline, 30 yards from goal, but Taft’s effort from inside the box went wide.
Stags had to defend two Newport corners in quick succession; the first punched away by Shearer at his near post, with the second headed out of the penalty area.
Following a scrappy spell, Stags’ conceded a free kick 30 yards from their own goal because of a dubious hand-ball decision given against defender George Taft.
But the home side were unable to make the most of it, as Compton’s cross was too strongly hit.
On 39, Hurst whipped in a free-kick from 19 yards, but the hosts were able to head clear at the near post.
A minute later, Green did well to rob the ball from Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, the Newport right-back, on the left touchline. And after cutting infield, the 29-year-old let fly, only to see his attempt cannon back off a Newport player.
Then, with three minutes of the first half remaining, Bennett’s right flank throw was met with a neat turn by Mitchell Rose, who peeled away from his man. But the midfielder was unable to do the rest after his strike from outside the box rolled wide.
Joe Day, the Newport keeper then saved routinely from a 30-yard effort by Mitchell Rose, who looked determined to test the home custodian.
Both teams remained unaltered for the start of the second period.
Stags forced their first corner of the match three minutes after the re-start.
Green fed Danny Rose, who laid it back to Bennett and his drive cannoned off a Newport body to give Stags their first flag kick.
With ten minutes of the second half played, Green drilled a 35 yard free kick into the Newport wall, following a foul on Mitchell Rose.
Then from a Kevan Hurst free-kick, Newport half-cleared, allowing Adam Chapman to strike at goal. But the midfielder’s well-hit drive was blocked.
As Stags pushed their foot on the pedal, Hurst delivered another free-kick a minute later, on the left channel, which forced another Stags’ corner.
Scott Shearer had to be alert at his near post just after the hour-mark when Jackson headed forwards from a corner, only for the Glasweigan get across to his right post quickly to keep it out.
Stags regained their lead on 65 minutes when striker Danny Rose claimed his first goal in Stags’ colours.
After a right-sided assist by Lee Collins, Rose picked his spot beautifully with a low and composed finish into the far corner of the goal.
Straight after the second goal, Stags’ made their first change of the match as Kyle Howkins, a loan signing from West Brom, replaced Adam Chapman.
On 75, Stags almost had a third, but for a fine one handed stop by Day.
Kevan Hurst sprinted away on the right beyond the Newport defence to deliver a superb cross for the onrushing Matt Green. And Newport had Day to thank after Green’s header was stopped by the goalkeeper’s glove.
In the blink of an eye, Newport were level from another free-kick.
In the 78th minute, a drifted ball from the Mansfield right side was sent into the pack, and the deftest of touches by Joss Labadie sent it into the net.
Danny Rose was then replaced by Ashley Hemmings as Stags made a second change.
It was followed by a third change on 86 minutes as Matt Green made way for Pat Hoban in attack.
With three minutes of normal time remaining, Hurst teed up Rose, who fired at the keeper from 25 yards.
Stags bagged the points in the most dramatic fashion in the last minute of added on time.
From 20 yards, Hurst's beautifully weighted attempt found the top corner of the goal.
Hurst sprinted away in jubilation, the full length of the field, to celebrate with the Stags' fans.
It was a magnificent attempt to beat Day, sneaking in underneath the bar; a goal worthy of winning a game and one which gave Mansfield a perfect start to the new season.
NEWPORT: Day, Barnum-Bobb, Butler, Turley, Labadie, Compton, Randall, Myrie-Williams (Tozer 72), Jackson, Bennett (C), Rigg
UNUSED SUBS: Bittner, Darren Jones, Bignot, Owen-Evans, Dafydd Jones
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Collins (C), Taft, Benning, Chapman (Howkins 66), M. Rose, Hurst, Clements, Green (Hoban 84), D. Rose (Hemmings 79)
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Baxendale, McGuire, Hamilton
ATTENDANCE: 2,790 (339 away)
REFEREE: Rob Jones