Report: Stags 3-0 Crewe
Magnificent Mansfield Town recorded their biggest win of the season with a comprehensive 3-0 win against confidence-sapped Crewe Alexandra.
The win was made all the sweeter for Stags' boss Steve Evans as two of his new signings, Yoann Arquin and Ben Whiteman, scored in either half on their home debuts.
And when Rhys Bennett bagged his first goal of the season in the 83rd minute, the win was made certain.
The men in amber and blue controlled the affair from start to finish, and despite a brief period in the second half in which Crewe enjoyed an attacking spell, the Alex were second best.
Stags’ chief Steve Evans named an unchanged line-up to the XI which started at Blackpool on Monday, winning 1-0.
Four of his new signings made their home debuts in front of the One Call Stadium faithful.
Goalkeeper Jake Kean, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday started in goal. Midfielder Joel Byrom, a free transfer from Northampton, started in central midfield with Ben Whiteman to his right side, on loan from Sheffield United. And to complete the debutants’ quartet, French striker Yoann Arquin began up front.
And after the first four minutes passed without note, it was Arquin who opened the scoring in the fifth minute as Stags netted a goal in the first half at home for the first time this season.
Mal Benning’s sweet left-footed cross saw midfielder Ben Whiteman head back across the face of goal and helped further forward by Matt Green. And after Crewe were unable to clear, fellow striker Yoann Arquin was on hand to swing the ball into the net from seven yards.
Arquin, clearly brimming with confidence, then headed over from ten yards after a Joel Byrom corner.
Stags’ shot-stopper Jake Kean remained untested in the opening stages and was only called upon to gather George Cooper‘s drifted floater from the left flank.
Byrom then won Stags a free-kick in the 15th minute when he was upended amidst a mazy run towards the Crewe goal. And fellow debutant Ben Whiteman’s right-footed curling effort beat the Crewe defensive wall from 22-yards, but not goalkeeper Ben Garratt, who gathered comfortably.
Crewe registered their first effort on goal in the 17th minute. Zoumana Bakayogo struck a long range drive which Kean was well behind, diving to his right.
The visitors felt they may have had a spot kick in the 25th minute.
A neat-one-two ended with Bakaygo surging into the box and it appeared that Stags’ full-back Rhys Bennett may have clipped his boots inside the area, but after Bakayogo attempted to stay on his feet, he momentarily fell to the ground. But the ball rolled out of play and referee Mark Brown awarded a goal kick.
Stags’ defence were almost thwarted after the half-hour mark. A through-ball from midfield found captain Chris Dagnall, but his momentum became halted and he was forced to send it left to George Cooper, whose attempted ball into the box was deflected into the grasp of Kean.
Throughout the first half, Stags pressed well and were in control for much of the 45, with Kean rarely tested and much of the action in Crewe’s half.
In the last opportunity of note in the first period, Green ignited a promising Stags’ move at the other end, as he raced to the goalline. Pulling it back to Benning, the full-back swung the ball into the area, but Arquin’s deft touch saw the ball fly into the hands of Garratt.
Just 30 seconds after the restart, CJ Hamilton burst down the left flank before delivering a dangerous low ball beyond the Crewe defence. But the advancing Rhys Bennett smashed it into the side netting from the edge of the goal area and the chance went begging.
But Whiteman made no mistake for the Stags in the 48th minute. Hamilton again acted as chief tormentor as he attempted a left-sided shot which was blocked. And as it rolled to Whiteman from outside the penalty area, his powerful drive was too strong for Garratt as it went through his hands and into the net.
Moments later, Green was unable to control a forward pass by Whiteman inside the area as Stags, with confidence over-flowing, searched for a third.
Arquin then teed-up Whiteman from outside the box, but his low curling shot was held by Garratt.
Kean was at last required in the 55th minute as he pushed away a well-hit sizzler by George Cooper in front of the North Stand.
As the hour passed, Matt Green was replaced by fellow Stags’ striker Danny Rose.
Two minutes after the Stags’ first change, Mansfield almost added to the scoresheet. After potent play in and around the Crewe box, the Alex cleared, but only as far as Byrom outside the area.
And the midfielder’s goalward attempt flew through a crowded box, and after Garratt parried, Bennett’s follow-up clipped the post and Crewe breathed another sigh of relief.
Stags’ pressure on the Crewe goal was by now almost relentless. And Garratt, far the busy of the two ‘keepers, will have been satisfied to see Whiteman fire a 25-yard free-kick wide of the post.
With 15 minutes of normal time remaining, Crewe forced a save from Kean following a corner. A ball in from the right was prodded goalwards by Dagnall, but Kean did well to extend himself, pushing clear, before Howkins hacked to safety.
On 77, James Baxendale replaced Ben Whiteman in midfield.
Crewe did enjoy their best spell of possession amidst Stags' second change, but they lacked true bite in attack, which prevented them from getting on the scorecard.
But Stags made sure of the victory in the 83rd minute, and after Bennett had previously missed two chances, he converted at the third attempt.
Baxendale's corner was teasing, and after Crewe failed to clear, Bennett prodded home from inside the goal area.
After the third, Yoann Arquinn departed to a standing ovation as Chris Clements took to the field.
CJ Hamilton, arguably Stags' best player, floated over late on as Stags coasted to victory.
Before the referee signalled Stags' joy and Crewe's misery with the blast of the final whistle, Chris Clements' 25-yard free-kick was saved by Garratt.
STAGS: Kean, Bennett, Howkins, Pearce, Benning, Whiteman (Baxendale 77), Collins, Byrom, Hamilton, Arquin (Clements 84), Green (D. Rose 61)
UNUSED SUBS: Shearer, Thomas, McGuire, Hoban
CREWE: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Guthrie, Bakayogo, Cooper (Ainley 70), Jones, Bingham, Kiwomya (Lowe 45), Dagnall, Kirk
UNUSED SUBS: Richards, Ray, Nugent, Hollands, Udoh,
ATTENDANCE: 3,040 (226 Crewe fans)
REFEREE; Mark Brown