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Match Reports

Mansfield Town vs Accrington Stanley

14 February 2017

Report: Stags 4-4 Accrington Stanley

Mansfield Town retained their play-off position but left it late to salvage a point in a quite remarkable 4-4 draw at home to Accrington Stanley this evening. 

Manager Steve Evans' men extended their unbeaten run to nine league matches in Sky Bet League Two and had to show their resilient side as they continually came from behind to rescue a point.

After a scrappy opening couple of minutes to the first half, Mansfield found themselves trailing 2-0 inside 30 minutes after Accrington defender Omar Beckles and striker Shay McCartan found the target. However, Stags fought back with goals from defenders Rhys Bennett and Hayden White either side of a Billy Kee volley as the visitors led 3-2 at the break. 

And the Stags fought hard to get something from the game in the second period as goals from strikers Shaquile Coulthirst and Yoann Arquin, either side of a Billy Kee penalty, made sure Stags finished the game with a share of the spoils.

With the Stags looking to secure a fourth consecutive league victory, only one change was made to the starting eleven which comfortably saw off Hartlepool United 4-0 last time out.

After coming off the bench to score at the weekend, winger Alex MacDonald replaced new arrival Alfie Potter on the left, whilst under 21s midfielder Lewis Collins was named on the bench.

Well-backed by a loud and passionate Stags' crowd, Mansfield went in immediate search of an opening goal when striker Shaquile Coulthirst did well to navigate his way through the Accrington defence and test Marek Rodak in the Accrington net with a fiercely struck shot from the edge of the penalty box.

But the Stags were stunned to go behind in the fourth minute of the game after when Stanley defender Omar Beckles diverted a loose ball into the bottom corner of the Mansfield goal, shooting low past 'keeper Jake Kean.

The game then became a bit of a scrappy affair with Shay McCartan and Hayden White coming together after an Accrington shout for a penalty was denied.

Stags were looking to get back on level terms but had to deal with a stern Accrington defence. The only threat came in the 11th minute as Ben Whiteman's header was directed straight at Rodak, after meeting an excellent Joel Byrom free-kick.

Centre-midfielder Lee Collins broke forward at pace in the 15th minute and passed wide to Danny Rose on the right-hand side but his cross narrowly missed the head of Whiteman, who was looking very energetic in the opening stages.

With the match becoming an end-to-end affair, Pearson then brought the ball down on his chest and volleyed towards goal from 20 yards, but it deflected off Collins and out for a corner. However the set piece came to nothing as Stags cleared the danger.

A massive chance was then wasted by Stanley as winger Sean McConville's in-swinging corner was volleyed over from five yards out as Stags survived a real scare at 1-0 down.

In the 26th minute, Mansfield conceded a dangerous free kick around 25 yards for a foul on Sean McConville, however McCartan fired the free-kick high and wide of Kean's goal.

However, McCartan did find the target a few moments later. The ball bounced around the box after a cross from Pearson and Lee Collins struggled to clear the danger and the Accrington frontman pounced and drove the ball home from just a few yards out.

Stunned after conceding two goals in a league game since before Christmas, Stags piled forward in search of a reply and and managed to pull a goal back almost immediately. 

Defender Krystian Pearce managed to keep the ball alive at the far post after meeting a Joel Byrom free-kick and defensive partner Rhys Bennet bundled the ball into the back of the net from just a couple of yards out.

The match suddenly burst into life as both teams brought men forward in search of another goal. The home supporters roared back into life, eagerly anticipating an equaliser as Mansfield pressed the Accrington defence.

Stanley winger Jordan Clark created a few dangerous chances, darting down the right and crossing into Stags' penalty area, failing to find a man to put the ball into the back of the net, however.

Stags' fans then had their heads in their hands as Mansfield conceded again just before the break. 

Former Stag Billy Kee fired a superb dipping volley beyond Jake Kean from 18 yards out and into the top-left corner after out-muscling Stags' centre-half Rhys Bennett.

However, Stags went straight up the other end and kept themselves in the game with a lifeline just before half-time. Midfielder Joel Byrom swung in a free-kick from the right-hand side and right-back Hayden White headed the ball into the ground and beyond Rodak to ensure Stags went into the break trailing by just one goal.

It could have been even better for the home side as MacDonald forced an excellent save from Marek Rodak moments later. The ball was headed out to him on the edge of the box and he brought it down on his chest and fired a volley towards the bottom-right corner of the goal but he was brilliantly denied by the finger tips of the Stanley 'keeper.

As the two teams emerged for the second half, Steve Evans introduced winger CJ Hamilton from the bench in place of Joel Byrom.

Mansfield immediately went in search of an equaliser as MacDonald's cross was headed out by Pearson for a Mansfield corner on 47 minutes. However, Stanley cleared the danger fairly comfortably from the former Oxford man's set piece. 

The Stags survived a huge scare moments later as Beckles headed against the Mansfield upright. Stopper Jake Kean let the ball fly over him, thinking it would bounce out of play, but it hit the woodwork and Stanley defender Matty Pearson headed over the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

Accrington continued their pursuit of the Mansfield goal as Pearson latched onto a good ball over the top and fired a low cross towards Kee, but Bennett did well to turn the ball behind and eliminate the threat.

On 60 minutes, Beckles brought down Rose right in front of the Mansfield dugout and was shown a yellow card when manager Steve Evans and the rest of the Mansfield bench were wanting him to see red. 

The comeback was then somewhat complete in the 62nd minute as defender Pearce was brought down in the box by Conneely. 

Coulthrist stepped up to take the spot kick and he sent Rodak the wrong way, firing in the Stags' equaliser to the right of the goal and it was game-on once again at One Call Stadium. 

With Stags buoyed and looking to grab a winner, Accrington were then awarded a spot-kick. After winning a penalty at the other end, Pearce blocked off Kee and referee Mark Heywood had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Kee himself converted the penalty, sending Kean the wrong way and putting Accrington ahead once more. 

Striker Matt Green was introduced to the action in place of Alex MacDonald with 20 minutes remaining as the Stags looked to rescue something from the encounter.

The change nearly prompted an immediate response as Coulthirst pulled the ball back for Hamilton, but he struck the base of the post from 12-yards out.

Billy Kee was then brought down in a dangerous position just moments later on the edge of the box and McConville curled the ball around the wall and saw his effort saved by the fingertips of Kean as he tipped it on to the post.

Mansfield made their final change with 10 minutes remaining as striker Yoann Arquinn was brought on in place of Danny Rose for one final push from Steve Evans' side.

Accrington persisted in drawing fouls towards the end of the 90 minutes, frustrating the Stags and drawing out seeing minutes as the game drew towards a conclusion.

But a moment of brilliance from Yoann Arquin sent the Stags' fans into raptures of delight. 

Right-back Hayden White had stayed forward as Stags looked to score a fourth and he flicked on Jake Kean's long ball forward into the path of Arquin who hit a dipping volley beyond Rodak from 25 yards out to level the match once more.

With seven minutes of added time announced by the fourth official, Mansfield broke forward once again and very nearly won it. Coulthirst zipped the ball past the post from a perfectly placed Hamilton cross as Stags ended the game in the ascendancy. 

Despite a late flurry of attacks from Steve Evans' side, Accrington held on to the draw and the game finished 4-4. The point keeps Mansfield firmly in the play-off picture in seventh place, extending their margin over eighth placed Wycombe Wanderers to one point.

STAGS: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Lee Collins (C), Pearce, Coulthirst, White, MacDonald, (Green 71) Byrom (Hamilton 46), Whiteman, Rose (Arquin 79)

UNUSED SUBS: Shearer (GK), Potter, McGuire, Lewis Collins

ACCRINGTON: Rodak, Pearson, Hughes, Beckles, Clark, Brown, McCartan, (Boco 72) McConville (Clare 90), Conneely (C), Kee, (Edwards 82), Donacien

UNUSED SUBS: Chapman, Davies, Husin, Rodgers

ATTENDANCE: 3,226 (58 away) 

REFEREE: Mark Heywood

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