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Match Reports

Match report: Stevenage 1-3 Stags

22 December 2018

A second half brace from Tyler Walker and a further strike by Ryan Sweeney earned all three points for the Stags in an excellent showing against Stevenage this afternoon.

Despite looking the better side in the opening 45 minutes, Mansfield found themselves behind at the break after Danny Newton’s strike in added time of the first half.

Sweeney equalised the Stags ten minutes after the restart, with his finish being followed by two strikes from Walker to extend the unbeaten away streak to a club record 14 games.

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft named an unchanged lineup from last week’s clash away to Forest Green, which was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch.

The same seven substitutes were also named for what was Stags’ final away game of 2018.

For Stevenage, both of John Hunt and Joel Byrom – who were with the Stags last season – started the match.

Mansfield started as the better of the two sides, as winger CJ Hamilton was released by Timi Elsnik into the area. The in-form wide-man pulled the ball back to Walker, who was denied by a fine block from Scott Cuthbert.

Despite the promising start, the visitors were reminded of Stevenage’s threat as they launched a quick counter-attack upfield. Defender Matt Preston remained alert, however, and was able to smartly shield the ball out for a goal kick.

Stags crafted another opportunity through Jacob Mellis, yet the midfielder saw his powerful volley from a considerable distance well blocked by a Stevenage body.

The hosts replied with an effort towards goal through Hunt, who saw the ball fall kindly to him after Preston’s interception. However, the defender could not keep his low drive at goal on target.

Elsnik found space on the left flank and delivered a tempting cross towards Walker, who missed it by a matter of centimetres. The ball then came off Neal Bishop – who knew little about it – and rolled wide.

Hamilton was then released into the Stevenage area, but was denied by a textbook sliding challenge.

Walker was then gifted the best chance of the game so far by a defensive mistake from the home side. The on-loan Nottingham Forest striker found himself through on goal, only to be denied by a fine save from Stevenage ‘keeper Paul Farman.

Mal Benning looked to cross towards Walker following a quick counter-attack by the Stags, but his delivery brushed the hair of the forward.

It would be the first of a quick hat-trick of chances for Mansfield, as just a minute later Mellis saw his attempt blocked on the line. After an exchange of passes between Benning and Hamilton, the latter found Mellis in the area, yet was denied by brave defending from the hosts.

The resulting corner was played short to Mellis, who curled a delightful delivery onto the head of Walker, with the forward glancing his header wide and subsequently leaving Mansfield left wondering how they had not taken the lead.

Despite the Stags looking the stronger outfit in the first half, it was the hosts who held the advantage heading into the break. A cross from the left-hand side found its way to Danny Newton, who prodded home from close range.

The Stags pressed for the equaliser immediately after the break, with Benning’s deep cross almost going all the way in at the back post.

Walker did well to take the ball down under pressure before finding Elsnik, who in turn released Benning into a wide area. However, the wing-back’s delivery floated over the bar for a goal kick.

Elsnik was once again teeing up his team-mates when he found Mellis at the edge of the area, yet the midfielder blasted his effort over Farman’s goal from 20 yards.

A mistake by Byrom in the midfield allowed Bishop to feed Walker, whose deflected effort looped marginally wide of the target. From the resulting corner, the Stags would find their equaliser.

A wicked delivery to the front post was not dealt with by the Stevenage defence, allowing Ryan Sweeney to arrive late and emphatically fire home his first goal in Mansfield colours.

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft made his first change of the afternoon 20 minutes from time, when Benning made way for Danny Rose.

The forward was almost immediately involved as Mellis looked to release Mansfield’s No.32, yet the midfielder put too much weight on his pass.

The hosts went close to regaining their lead yet were denied by expert goalkeeping from Conrad Logan, who tipped Newton’s effort onto the crossbar.

However it would be the visitors who would find the second goal first. Rose smartly headed the ball back across goal, which Walker ran onto and smashed into the far corner for 2-1.

Before long, the Stags found a third goal, once again through Walker. Hamilton raced down the touchline and found the forward with a precise low cross. Despite Walker initially being denied by a superb save from Farman, he reacted quickly to fire home the rebound.

Mellis looked to make it four in stoppage time with his long range strike, which brushed the top of the crossbar.

In summary, it was a superb showing by David Flitcroft’s side, who thoroughly deserved the three points in the last game before Christmas.

Up next for the Stags is a visit from Bury at One Call Stadium on Boxing Day.

STAGS’ XI: Logan, Preston, Pearce (C), Sweeney, White, Mellis, Bishop, Elsnik (Graham 88’), Benning (Rose 69’), Walker, Hamilton.

SUBS: Kean, Khan, Atkinson, Butcher, Law.

STEVENAGE XI: Farman, James-Wildin (Vancooten 87’), Hunt (Sonupe 81’), Cuthbert, Ball (Revell 46’), Byrom, Kennedy, Seddon, Iontton, Newton, Henry (C).

SUBS: Dieng, Reid, Guthrie, Wilkinson.

REFEREE: Dean Whitestone.

ASSISTANTS: Isaac Searle & Paul Graham.

FOURTH OFFICIAL: Carl Fitch-Jackson.

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