Report: Stags 1-2 Stevenage
Goals in either half from Charlie Lee and Harry McKirdy consigned the Stags to a 2-1 defeat at this afternoon's League Two encounter at One Call Stadium.
Mansfield did reply in between the two visiting goals through striker Pat Hoban, but it wasn't enough for the home side as Stevenage hung on for the win.
Stags had the lion's share of possession throughout the contest but were unable to add to their tally despite creating enough opportunities to test Jamie Jones, the visiting goalkeeper.
Boss Adam Murray made one alteration to the line-up from their last match at Luton. Midfielder Mitchell Rose was moved to the subs’ bench as Alex Iacovitti, the defender on loan from Nottingham Forest, began the game at left-back.
Mansfield were first to test the goal after just 60 seconds. Matt Green held the ball up in the area before laying it back to Chris Clements. And the midfielder spotted right-back Rhys Bennett in space to shoot, but his low drive took a deft deflection to trickle into the hands of Stevenage ‘keeper Jamie Jones.
Green then won a free-kick for Stags 24 yards from goal, but Mal Benning fired it into the middle of the visiting wall.
Stags had to play with ten men for six minutes after Krystian Pearce needed off-the-field treatment following a clash of heads with Ben Kennedy.
And it was just after the re-introduction of Pearce, in the 15th minute, when home goalkeeper Scott Shearer was called upon for the first time as Harry McKirdy struck at goal from a tight angle, but Shearer got down quickly to make the stop.
Charlie Lee then smashed an audacious effort over the bar .
Stevenage were almost undone from a well-rehearsed Stags’ corner. Replicated from the training ground, Stags’ quick movement had the visitors in a haze with four rapid short passes, but somehow the men from Hertfordshire got in the way of the final shot.
Stevenage midfielder Jack King conceded possession cheaply inside his own box in the 21st minute, allowing Chris Clements to pounce. The Stags playmaker, from just inside the box, teed it up for Kevan Hurst to ferociously fire just over the target from 25 yards.
Darren Sarll’s men were ahead on 32 minutes after Chris Clements conceded a free kick 25 yards out.
Charlie Lee’s glancing header from ten yards flew beyond a helpless Scott Shearer after Henry Cowans delivered right-footed into the pack.
Mansfield missed a golden chance to equalise five minutes later. Hurst’s right-flank cross into the box was pin-point in its accuracy, but Benning’s eight-yard header was off target when he should have tested Jones.
Stags had a claim for a penalty on 43 minutes when Benning appeared to be pushed by Henry inside the box after a right-wing cross, but the referee was having none of it and awarded a goal-kick.
In the last chance of the first half, Pearce headed over from Collins’ right-channel assist.
Just three minutes after half-time, midfielder Jack Thomas took the place of Alex Iacovitti, as Mal Benning slotted in at left-back.
On 52 minutes, Scott Shearer had to punch away with one hand to deny Lee’s 15-yard shot, following intricate play in and around the Stags’ box.
Mansfield were then level on 54 minutes. Rhys Bennett caused problems on the right and his dipping cross had to be clawed away by Jones. Hurst then sent it back into the box, and as Stevenage failed to get it away, Pat Hoban swivelled to slam it into the net.
But Stevenage regained the lead just three minutes later. Stags’ conceded possession in midfield, allowing Harry McKirdy to run half the length of the field to place his effort past Shearer.
Henry Cowans then let fly from inside the box after a left-flank Stevenage throw, but giant defender got into the way of the goal-bound attempt.
Stags made a change on 65 minutes when striker Darius Henderson took the place of Kevan Hurst.
Stevenage then endured a spell under the kosh and had to head behind to prevent Henderson connecting with Benning’s left-sided cross. It was followed by Jones having to come off his line to punch clear as Stags maintained the pressure.
Goalscorer Pat Hoban made way for Danny Rose in Stags’ last substitution on 74 minutes.
Soon after the change, Bennett weaved his way into the box but his final shot drifted well wide of the target, as bodies from both sides clouded his view of goal.
On 76, Collins took his eye off the ball at the left-full back position, enabling substitute Rowan Liburd to advance towards goal and draw a one-handed stop from Scott Shearer .
At the other end, Jack Thomas sent a dangerous deep ball towards the back stick, but Benning’s header could only find the side netting.
Rhys Bennett then created a trio of solo chances to try and salvage a point.
In the second of six added minutes, the right-back curled a left-footed shot over the bar from the right side of the box.
The same player side footed an effort over the target from 12 yards, under pressure from a sliding Stevenage player.
Bennett then forced a corner in the dying seconds, from which Henderson headed over as Stags ran out of time to rescue a point.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Howkins, Pearce, Iacovitti (Thomas 49), Collins, Hurst (Henderson 64), Clements, Benning, Hoban (D. Rose 74), Green
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, M. Rose, Hamilton, McGuire
STEVENAGE: Jones, Henry, Franks, Wilkinson, Ntlhe, Lee (Wells 79), King, Gorman (Pett 55) Cowans, Kennedy, McKirdy (Liburd 71)
UNUSED SUBS: Day, Fox, Hyde, Tonge
REFEREE: Mark Heywood
ATTENDANCE: 2,716 (100 away fans)