The Stagettes moved into second in the table as they ran out 2-0 winners against Arnold Town on Wednesday night under the lights of One Call Stadium.
The game was predicted to be a high scoring affair after the two sides played out a 5-1 cup game earlier this year and Mansfield’s recent 9-2 victory over Grimsby, but it turned out to be a lot closer than many expected.
It was Arnold who came out looking more alert and their young side showed great energy and enthusiasm throughout the opening period.
The first chance of the game came straight from kick-off when the away side were able to intercept the ball and play it out wide to Chloe Jordan, whose cross was fired over by Ciara Button.
Mansfield had the next chance when Jemma Douglas saw her shot saved at the near post after good build up work from Androulla Kokkinou.
The winger was a constant threat to Arnold thanks to her mazy runs and lightning pace as she looked to add to the four goals she scored in the previous match.
Laura Watton was the next to go close for Mansfield when her shot curled just wide of ex-teammate Emily Hallam’s post.
The best chance of the first half for the Stagettes fell to Abbey Hawkins. The striker was in the perfect position to collect a mis-timed header from Claire Potter but she could only fire her shot straight at the ‘keeper when one-on-one with the custodian.
As the first half went on, Mansfield started to grow more into the match but they still lacked that cutting edge which was required to break the deadlock.
The Stagettes were being too hesitant in possession and Arnold almost took the lead after dispossessing them in midfield. Arnold striker Chloe Stocks saw her lobbed effort loop over the ‘keeper and hit the underside of the crossbar, hit the line and bounce away before teammate Chloe Jordan could tap in the rebound.
The near-miss seemed to spark the Stagettes into life as they came out after the half-time interval revitalised.
The best attacks of the game came through good work by both sides’ wingers with Mansfield’s Kokkinou and Monica Bowley and Arnold’s Molly Parker and Chloe Jordan creating good chances for their sides throughout.
It was one of these wingers who would break the deadlock as Kokkinou was able to win the ball in the centre-circle before playing a one-two with striker Jess Machin. She then threaded it through to Abbey Hawkins and the striker saw her effort deflected back to Kokkinou who was then able to fire it in to give Mansfield the lead.
Mansfield soon made their first substitution after the goal with Jess Machin making way for defender Jenna Ellis as the home side looked to remain solid against the Arnold front three.
The away side’s best two chances to equalise came in the same spell of play.
Firstly, Molly Parker was able to turn inside her marker Emma Day but could only watch as her shot was cleared off the line by composed defender Shelley Adams. The ball then broke loose with Mansfield ‘keeper Jay-Leanne Fenton bravely diving at the feet of Elli Leathen but couldn’t prevent it from falling to Arnold’s Chloe Stocks, who could only fire over the unguarded net.
Any hopes of an Arnold comeback were quashed when the Stagettes grabbed their second of the game.
Winger Monica Bowley was able to power down the left wing before taking advantage of a defensive error to intercept and fire a cross to the unmarked Abbey Hawkins who smashed the ball into the net from close range to secure all three points for Lewis Saxby’s side.