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Match report: Wycombe Wanderers 1-2 Stags

30 December 2017

A scintillating second half performance from Mansfield Town saw come from behind to defeat in-form Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 at Adams Park.

The result means Stags finish 2017 having lost just one game in 17 matches in all competitions and head into 2018 level on points with seventh-placed Accrington Stanley, who occupy the final play-off spot.

Wycombe went into the game in great form and they started brightly, taking the lead in the seventh minute when top scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa headed in at the far post. Things went from bad to worse for Mansfield in the opening period as they then lost top scorer Danny Rose and defender Zander Diamond to injury but Steve Evans' side dug in and grew into proceedings as the half went on.

Mansfield were second best in the first 45 but it was a real game of two halves as the Stags dominated after the break and scored two unanswered goals to secure the win.

Mansfield's leveller came in the 52nd minute when winger Alfie Potter beat Scott Brown with a composed finish at the back post and the winner arrived in the 81st minute, striker Lee Angol scoring against his former club, flicking left-back Mal Benning's low pass into the corner.

Stags' gaffer Steve Evans was always expected to make changes to his team with the fixtures coming thick and fast over the festive period but his plans were altered somewhat when a virus hit the camp prior to the game.

Therefore, the former Leeds United manager made three changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Grimsby Town on Boxing Day and switched to three at the back. Bobby Olejnik made his first league start of the season, replacing Conrad Logan in goal. Full backs Hayden White and Johnny Hunt both missed out with Rhys Bennett coming in to join Zander Diamond and Krystian Pearce in central defence. Jacob Mellis and Alex MacDonald remained in central midfield whilst Alfie Potter, starting in place of Hunt, operated behind strikers Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings. Paul Anderson and CJ Hamilton remained on the flanks.

It was the hosts who had the game's first opportunity inside the third minute. The lively Eberechi Eze was brought down 30 yards from goal and Wycombe captain Joe Jacobson saw his free-kick hit Mansfield skipper Zander Diamond, with the former Aberdeen man taking one in the face for the cause. The blow caused Diamond some bother and received lengthy treatment on the field from physio Dan Kett.

Wycombe had started the brighter of the two sides and they took what was a deserved lead in the seventh minute. Right-back Dominic Gape managed to work his way clear down the right wing and his floated ball to the far post was headed in by the unmistakable Adebayo Akinfenwa, the Wycombe top scorer netting his 13th of the season.

Akinfenwa nearly added a second three minutes later. He met a corner at the far post which forced Stags 'keeper Bobby Olejink into a smart save with the ball taking a deflection on the way.

Mansfield's first sight of goal came in the 14th minute after Wycombe defender Dan Scarr had fouled striker Kane Hemmings by the right touchline. Midfielder Alex MacDonald delivered in the dead ball but it came to nothing with Wycombe 'keeper Scott Brown eventually claiming the ball after it had been headed up in the air.

Wycombe had won their last six home games and Mansfield's task got even harder when top goalscorer Danny Rose and captain Zander Diamond were both forced off with injury in the 18th minute. Forward Lee Angol and left-back Mal Benning were brought on with the Stags also reverting to a back four, Paul Anderson dropping to right-back with Alfie Potter moving out wide.

A good passing move by Mansfield in the 27th minute almost led to an equaliser. After winning the ball, central midfielder Jacob Mellis broke before playing Potter clear down the left. His cross found the head of Hemmings but the on-loan Oxford United man couldn't direct his flicked header goalbound.

Former Nottingham Forest forward Nathan Tyson had a snatched effort for Wycombe in the 35th minute but his poked shot was easily held by Olejnik in the Mansfield goal.

Akinfenwa then went close again after meeting Tyson's whipped cross from the left but this time, the man mountain failed to find the target.

A curling cross by MacDonald in the 41st minute of the game caused a moment of panic in the Wycombe area but Brown was able to pick up the ball at the second attempt with Angol and Hemmings both lurking.

The Chairboys were still looking dangerous as they went in search of a second goal and after Tyson had broken free of the Stags' defence, he teed up Paris Cowan-Hall who sent a shot comfortably wide of the Mansfield goal.

Angol had looked a threat since his introduction and in the last minute of normal time in the first half, he had Mansfield's best opportunity. After receiving the ball in the area, the former Peterborough forward had two efforts on goal but Brown was equal to both with Angol unable to really get the ball out of his feet enough to generate a shot of any real power.

The home side were keeping up the pressure on the Mansfield goal and in added time, Akinfenwa saw a low shot strike the foot of the post before Tyson latched onto the rebound and forced Olejnik into a brilliant one-handed save.

Mansfield started the second period strongly and in the 50th minute, Benning released winger CJ Hamilton and he saw his first-time cross deflect into the path of Angol who failed to convert from eight yards out.

The Stags got their reward for their positive start to the second half when they levelled the game in the 52nd minute. Hamilton saw a shot hit a Wycombe defender and bounce into the path of Alfie Potter who kept his cool at the back stick to slot into the bottom corner.

It was now Mansfield who were in the ascendancy and Angol went close to firing them into the lead but he couldn't keep it down after being set up on the edge of the box.

A Mansfield second looked inevitable and Potter almost turned provider in the 57th minute but after he chipped a ball into the area, Rhys Bennett saw a close-range header skew off target.

Wycombe were now performing continous rear-guard action to try and deal with the Stags and next to try his luck was Mal Benning who fizzed a long range shot wide of the upright.

It was all Mansfield as the game neared the hour mark and Angol sprung the offside trap as he latched onto a lovely ball by Alfie Potter, but he saw a side-footed effort saved by Brown.

Fleet-footed winger Hamilton was causing Wycombe right-back Gape countless problems and he got at his man again before teeing up Mellis, the former Chelsea youngster seeing a curling shot deflect wide.

Tempers were beginning to rise as the game entered its final twenty minutes with referee Christopher Sarginson having to speak to players from both sides for cynical fouls.

With 10 minutes to go, Mansfield introduced pacey forward Omari Sterling-James in place of Kane Hemmings as they looked to secure all three points.

Only seconds later, the Stags went 2-1 ahead. Potter's sublime reverse ball sent Benning into the left-hand side of the box and his pass across goal was fantastically flicked past Brown and into the bottom corner by Angol, who celebrated with a rapturous following Stags' support.

Wycombe were now trying to rescue a point from the game and in the 84th minute they had their first chance of the second period, centre back Dan Scarr venturing forward and heading straight at Olejnik.

Mansfield had to survive an additional four minutes at the end of the 90 and Olejnik had to be at his best to acrobatically tip a cross over the bar.

Wycombe were then up in arms after appealing for a handball inside the Mansfield area but despite their mass protests, referee Sarginson had no interest in pointing to the spot and Stags cleared the danger.

The hosts then sent 'keeper Brown forward for a late corner but the delivery led to nothing and the Stags were able to get the ball away.

Akinfenwa was involved throughout the game and he had the last chance of the game, seeing a looping header drop wide of the post.

Despite Wycombe's late pressure, a terrific second half performance by the Stags was enough to seal a brilliant victory and finish 2017 in style.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS XI: Brown, Gape (Freeman 88'), Jacobson ©, Jombati, Scarr, O'Nien, Saunders, Eze (Bloomfield 74'), Cowan-Hall (Mackail-Smith 46'), Akinfenwa, Tyson

SUBS NOT USED: Ma-Kalamby (GK), Southwell, De Havilland, Williams

STAGS' XI: Olejnik, Bennett, Pearce, Diamond © (Benning 18'), MacDonald, Mellis, Anderson, Potter, Hamilton, Rose (Angol 18'), Hemmings (Sterling-James 80')

SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Digby, Atkinson, Butcher

ATTENDANCE: 4,227 (299 away)

REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson


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