Report: Stags 0-1 Morecambe
Mansfield Town experienced the Boxing Day blues as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Morecambe.
Andrew Fleming's 13th minute strike proved decisive in a match which was short on both quality and clear-cut openings.
Stags were far from their best in the first half, despite enjoying the majority of possession, and even though they dominated the second period they were unable to find the net.
After impressing in the second half away at Exeter City last weekend, forward Darius Henderson was handed a start, while defender Kyle Howkins replaced the suspended Mal Benning.
The enforced reshuffle meant that Lee Collins started at left-back, Rhys Bennett at right back, with Howkins partnering Krystian Pearce in the centre of defence.
And it was Collins who created the first chance for the Stags inside the seventh minute.
Strong winds helped sweep the ball across the goal area and beyond the Morecambe defence, but Matt Green was unable to connect just yards away at the far post.
Three minutes later, Morecambe should have forced a save from Stags’ ‘keeper Scott Shearer. Aaron McGowan went unchecked as he headed towards the penalty area, but after receiving a short corner from Michael Rose, he floated his effort over the bar from 18 yards.
At the other end, Ashley Hemmings struck into the arms of the visiting goalkeeper from 25 yards while Andrew Fleming drifted a shot wide through a crowded box.
But Fleming made no mistake moments later as Morecambe broke the deadlock on 13 minutes.
Rhys Turner was allowed to roam into the Stags’ box before laying it to the right for Peter Murphy to shoot. And after Shearer had parried from close range, Fleming prodded it home to give the Shrimps an early lead.
In the 23rd minute, Henderson had to stoop at the far post to head against the Morecambe ‘keeper Barry Roche to force a second successive corner. But a foul inside the box on a Shrimps’ player prevented the Stags’ from testing Roche a second time.
But Roche had to be alert to deny the Stags three minutes later. Clements spotted Hemmings on the left of the box, and his deft cross into the centre allowed Green to send a looping header goalwards, which Roche had to fingertip over the bar at full stretch.
Fleming fired over the angle on the half-hour mark in Morecambe's final shooting effort of the half.
Hemmings then drifted a cross into the box on 39 minutes but Morecambe were there first to hack clear.
Two minutes before the break, Green headed to his right from 22 yards, but Hoban’s first-time shot arrowed wide of the post.
Hoban then released Hemmings on the left to swing another cross into the box. But as it fell to Henderson, he inadvertently knocked the ball back outside the penalty area.
It was to be Henderson’s last noteworthy moment, as he was replaced by CJ Hamilton at half-time.
Three minutes after the restart, Hamilton helped win a corner, before Hoban headed harmlessly off target from Hemmings’ right flank assist.
Hoban then warmed the fingertips of Roche in the 50th minute with a stinging drive at his near post.
Stags continued to press and Green was almost in the clear shortly before the hour.
Pearce split the defence in part with a clever through pass on 58 minutes. But Green, racing towards the ball, was second best to Roche who sprinted out of his area to clear.
Danny Rose then took the place of Pat Hoban with the game 61 minutes old.
And Rose hit the upright just two minutes after taking his place.
Kyle Howkins, in a forward position 25 yards from goal, lashed a left-footed shot as Roche could only spill, and from the follow up Rose instantaneously struck the post from ten yards.
On 66, Hamilton went on a mazy run before firing over from inside the box.
And the winger planted a tame effort against the Morecambe defence from a similar position moments later.
In Stags’ third and final change, midfielder Jack Thomas replaced Jamie McGuire on 76 minutes.
But Morecambe dug in to restrict the Stags to any clear openings in the final stages.
And despite late charges at the visiting goal in the last 15 minutes, largely through CJ Hamilton, Stags were unable to force Roche into a save.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Howkins, Collins, Clements, Hemmings, McGuire (Thomas 76), Henderson (Hamilton 45), Green, Hoban (D. Rose 61)
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, M. Rose, Baxendale, Hurst
MORECAMBE: Roche, Conlan, Winnard, Edwards, Jennings, McGowan, Murphy, Fleming, Rose, Ellison (Wildig 83), Turner (Mullin 76)
UNUSED SUBS: Nizie, Molyneux, Massanka, Jordan
ATTENDANCE: 3,237 (79 Morecambe fans)
REFEREE: Mark Heywood