Report: Stags 2-0 Carlisle
Magnificent Mansfield Town refuelled their play-off aspirations after two goals in thirteen second-half minutes secured a 2-0 victory in a one-sided contest at home to Carlisle United.
Stags controlled the contest from start to finish with a penetrative display, while goalkeeper Jake Kean was barely extended at the other end throughout the afternoon.
And the scoreline could have been far greater, such was the number of chances Steve Evans’ men created in front of goal.
Matt Green rose highest to head home on 63 minutes to claim his 13th of the season, whilst Shaq Coulthirst chalked up his fifth of the campaign with a beautiful finish on 76.
Mansfield goalkeeper Kean returned to the line-up after missing the last four matches through injury.
Two other changes saw a fresh duo in attack as Danny Rose and Coulthirst were partnered up front - a move which saw Green moved to the left of a four-man midfield.
Defensive midfielder Lee Collins picked up a knock which led to defender Krystian Pearce wearing the captain’s armband.
Stags forced the first corner of the match in the third minute after Mal Benning whipped it into the box from the left side.
And from Joel Byrom’s flag kick, Rhys Bennett headed over from eight yards.
An innocuous but strong clash of heads between Stags’ Danny Rose and Carlisle right-back Tom Miller saw the game halted for almost four minutes. Rose was kept on, albeit with a bandaged head for some time, but Miller couldn’t continue with a bloodied nose and was replaced by Alex McQueen.
In the 15th minute, Rose kept the ball in play on the left touchline to release Coulthirst, whose dipping shot on the edge of the box was saved by a diving Mark Gillespie.
Five minutes later, Hayden White did well to wrestle off Jamie Proctor, before steering forward to fire wide from 25 yards.
Stags continued to push for a deadlock breaker and Benning assisted accurately again from the left side, but Rose’s header from seven yards sailed over.
Rose then knocked it through to Coulthirst inside the box, whose shot from 12 yards had to be turned behind by Gillespie.
Mansfield defender Krystian Pearce picked up a knock and was substituted by Kyle Howkins in the 31st minute, after Stags played with ten men for almost two minutes whilst waiting for a stoppage.
Straight after the change, a long free-kick from Carlisle goalkeeper Gillespie was flicked further into the box, but striker Shaun Miller could only find the roof of the home net.
Jake Kean then claimed at full stretch after a deep Carlisle cross from the left channel.
Stags thought their luck was in on 35 when Rose had put the ball into the net, but Mansfield’s joy was shortlived by the sight of a linesman’s flag. It came from a free-kick to Byrom, whose set piece was hit into the ground by Coulthirst, picked up by Green and sent towards Rose to apply the finish, who was adjudged offside.
Gillespie then had to push away a stinging volley by Rose, following White’s right wing cross.
Howkins headed off target from a Byrom corner on 39 as Stags maintained heavy pressure on the visiting goal.
At the other end, Carlisle front man Jamie Proctor flicked up the ball to smash over the bar from 25 yards.
In the first of seven minutes added on at the end of the first half, Coulthirst mis-struck an attempt over the bar from the edge of the box when he should have done better.
Stags’ dominance continued into the second period.
Four minutes after the restart, Benning’s 20 yard effort missed the target after a poor Carlisle clearance from an Alex MacDonald cross.
The Stags’ right-winger provided again in the 50th minute, pulling it back on the goal line for an advancing Rhys Bennett to strike straight into the hands of the goalkeeper from 18 yards.
Mansfield came close to taking the upper hand on 57.
After a promising move on the left, Coulthirst’s shot was parried by Gillespie, and Rose could only fire into the side netting from the left of the six-yard box.
But Stags finally broke their goal duck on 63 when Coulthirst turned provider. After the striker crossed from the left, Green climbed amongst a small pack of players on the edge of the goal area to head beyond Gillespie.
Coulthirst again caused problems on the left, releasing MacDonald to shoot goalwards, but Carlisle blocked the attempt to put it behind for a corner.
In a rare Carlisle charge forward, Nicky Adams delivered dangerously from the left, yet a rising McQueen headed wide at the far post.
Winger CJ Hamilton took the place of Alex MacDonald in the 70th minute in Stags’ second change.
Rose then set-up Coulthirst through the middle with a lovely throughball. And after Carlisle tried to stop his progress to goal, he teed up Hamilton to fire at Gillespie.
And for all his good play, Coulthirst was rewarded with a goal in the 76th minute. A shot didn’t seem on from the left of the box, but his curling effort nestled into the far corner to send almost 4,000 Stags’ fans into raptures.
On 78, Kean was called upon to save routinely from Junior Joachim’s weak effort in front of goal.
Danny Rose, Stags' Man-of-the-Match then made way for Yoann Arquin with 80 minutes on the clock.
John O’Sullivan rifled an effort goalwards with three minutes to play, but Kean was well behind it.
Though the victory never looked in doubt and Stags continued to attack in added-on time.
Coulthirst was upended in the dying moments as Carlisle stopped his advance to goal. And from the free-kick, Green planted it over the wall in the final effort of the match.
And Stags left the field to a standing ovation after a comprehensive display against play-off rivals Carlisle, which reignites their end of season target of a top seven finish.
STAGS: Kean, White, Pearce (Howkins 31), Bennett, Benning, MacDonald (Hamilton 70), Whiteman, Byrom, Green, Rose (Arquin 80), Coulthirst
UNUSED SUBS: Shearer, Potter, McGuire, Baxendale
CARLISLE: Gillespie, T. Miller (McQueen 9, O’Sullivan 72), Raynes, Brisley, Grainger, Lambe, Liddle, Joyce, Adams, S. Miller, Proctor (Joachim 9)
UNUSED SUBS: Crocombe, Ward, Hooper, Waring
REFEREE: Brendan Malone
ATTENDANCE: 4,463 (561 away fans)