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Match Reports

Match report: Stags 2-1 Cambridge United

23 September 2017

Mansfield Town extended their unbeaten run to six games as they came from behind to defeat Cambridge United 2-1 at One Call Stadium this afternoon.

After a goalless first half, Cambridge defender Leon Legge headed the away side into the lead in the second period before substitute Jacob Mellis converted a penalty to get the Stags back on level terms.

With both sides pushing for a winner, frontman Danny Rose struck his second goal in as many games to complete a superb turnaround from manager Steve Evans' side.

After scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory away to Lincoln City last weekend, Rose scored a brace in the 4-0 Central League Cup win over Burton Albion in midweek and was rewarded with a starting spot this afternoon in what was Stags' only change from the win at Sincil Bank.

Cambridge got the game underway but it was Mansfield who started the brighter. Rose won a very early free-kick but captain Krystian Pearce was penalised for a push after left-back Johnny Hunt had hung it up from the dead ball.

The Stags continued to try and get on the front foot in the opening stages. Good play down the left flank between Rose and Hunt ended in the ball being switched to right-back Hayden White but his cross was claimed by David Forde in the U's goal, with striker Kane Hemmings lurking.

Mansfield nearly benefitted from a slice of good fortune as a deflected ball put White clear on the right-hand side. His cross was deflected into the path of Hemmings, who flicked it on to his strike partner Rose and he narrowly missed the ball with an acrobatic overhead effort.

Striker Jabo Ibehre is joint top goalscorer for Cambridge this season, he and fellow front man Uche Ikpeazu both netting three apiece thus far, and it was Ibehre who had the first real sight of goal for the visitors, but his tame header was easily dealt with by goalkeeper Conrad Logan.

Logan had to be at his best on 25 minutes as Cambridge had the game's first clear chance. The ball fell kindly to midfielder Jevani Brown on the edge of the Mansfield area and his low shot looked destined for the bottom corner before the former Hibernian 'keeper got down to tip the ball round the post.

Former Barnsley frontman Rose had a very lively opening half-hour and he nearly took advantage after closing down defender Leon Legge, but the Cambridge captain's clearance deflected into the grateful hands of U's goalkeeper David Forde.

Cambridge were starting to get the ball down and play some intricate football and they again came close to getting the first goal. Ibehre saw a shot blocked from inside the area and as it rebounded out to Brown, defender David Mirfin threw his body on the line to deflect the ball over.

Winger Alfie Potter had a speculative effort for the home side which was deflected out for Mansfield's first corner of the game but the resulting delivery failed to mount to anything as midfielder Paul Digby just missed the ball.

With time running out in the first half, midfielder Calum Butcher clipped a ball over the top of the Cambridge defence but Stags' winger Alex MacDonald was just beaten to it by Forde.

In the last attack of the opening period, Mansfield nearly took the lead but Potter's cross was just too high for Rose who couldn't get meaningful contact on the ball.

For the third successive game, Mansfield went into half time with score at 0-0 and neither side had really done enough to get on top, despite Cambridge having the better of the chances.

This was a fixture which had only produced one goal in the past four encounters at One Call Stadium and on the evidence of the first half, it looked like it would be more of the same.

Mansfield tested Cambridge's resolve early in the second with a corner from the left but after Pearce won the initial header, Rose was penalised for a high foot when try to win the knock down.

Rose was then fouled by Cambridge left-back Harrison Dunk but MacDonald's whipped delivery from the free-kick was glanced wide by the head of Digby.

It was then Cambridge's turn to try their luck and they should have opened the scoring. Winger Piero Mingoia lifted a ball in from the left and Ibehre found himself in plenty of space six yards out, but he could only direct the ball wide of the upright.

Stags' gaffer Steve Evans then made a double substitution, bringing on midfielder Jacob Mellis and winger Paul Anderson in place of Paul Digby and Alfie Potter.

Burly frontman Uche Ikpeazu was continuing to cause Mansfield's back line problems and he cut inside from the left just before the hour, but saw his effort go just wide of the goal.

Mansfield then hit back with a chance of their own as the game started to open up. Rose had an effort blocked from the right of the area before winger Alex MacDonald saw an acrobatic effort saved by Forde.

With both sides pushing for an opener, Cambridge took the lead on 58 minutes. Winger George Maris sent in a ball which found Legge at the far post and he thumped a header down into the ground before it bounced up and past Logan to give the visitors the lead.

Mansfield were still well in the game and they nearly drew level almost immediately. The ball just ran away from MacDonald in the box but as Rose threw himself at it, Forde was there to smother the opportunity.

The game had sparked into life since the restart and Mansfield were presented with a golden opportunity to draw level on 65 minutes.

Right-back Hayden White looked to play a lovely one-two with Hemmings but was then tripped as he drove into the area and referee Ben Toner had no option but to point to the spot.

Midfielder Jacob Mellis stepped up from twelve yards and though Forde guessed the right way and got hands to his initial spot kick, the former Millwall 'keeper had a moment to forget as the ball squirmed underneath him and rolled into the net.

The game was now back in the balance and Mansfield were looking to get the next goal. MacDonald received the ball in the box after being played through by White but he couldn't keep his effort down, firing a good opportunity over the bar.

Mansfield continued to press and Rose's ball from the right found Hemmings in the area, but the former Oxford United frontman saw his volley well-held by Forde.

Ikpeazu nearly scored a spectacular effort for Cambridge but after keeping the ball up, his overhead kick lacked the power and accuracy to test Logan.
Stags' boss Steve Evans then made his final change, introducing frontman Lee Angol in place of Kane Hemmings.

Mellis had been lively since his introduction and after finding space 25 yards out, he hit a low effort which was deflected wide for a Mansfield corner.

With less than ten minutes to go, it was still all to play for and Mansfield had two good chances in quick succession. Former Peterborough United forward Lee Angol saw a powerful effort parried away by Forde.

Moments later, nimble footwork in the area by MacDonald presented him with space to fire a shot which was deflected out to Angol who then saw his effort blocked.

Backed by a noisy home support, Mansfield were in the ascendancy and they scored what turned out to be the winner on 88 minutes.

Centre-half David Mirfin played a long free-kick into the box and Krystian Pearce headed the ball down in the box towards striker Danny Rose and he arrowed a left-footed effort into the bottom corner.

The fourth official indicated there would be a minimum of six minutes for the Stags to see out at the end of the game.

Cambridge started to pile on the late pressure and Mingoia hit a dipping volley from 20 yards out, which Logan punched away from goal.

Rose then went into the referee's notebook for a late foul on right-back Brad Halliday and Forde pumped the ball into the Mansfield area, but after the ball bounced around dangerously, Angol was on hand to boot it clear.

Mansfield's resolute defence saw out the closing moments to secure a big win for the Stags as they kept up their unbeaten home record.

STAGS XI: Logan, White, Hunt, Mirfin, Pearce©, Digby (Mellis 54'), Potter (Anderson 54'), Butcher, Rose, Hemmings (Angol 74'), MacDonald

SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Bennett, Atkinson, Sterling-James

CAMBRIDGE XI: Forde, Halliday, Deegan, Taylor (Howkins 90'), Legge ©, Mingoia, Ikpeazu, Dunk, Ibehre, Maris (Amoo 81'), Brown (Elito 68')

SUBS NOT USED: Mitov (GK), Carroll, O'Neil, Foy

ATTENDANCE: 3,814 (349 away)

REFEREE: Ben Toner

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