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Match Reports

Match report: Stags 4-2 Cheltenham Town

2 March 2019

Mansfield Town emerged as 4-2 victors over Cheltenham Town following a pulsating encounter at One Call Stadium.

Hamilton fired the hosts into a two-goal lead courtesy of a quick-fire brace moments before the interval.

However, Cheltenham showed desire following the break as goals from Chris Hussey and Charlie Raglan levelled up proceedings, but it was not to be for the visitors when Mansfield took control.

The substitute duo of Will Atkinson and Alex MacDonald made sure of the three points with  goal apiece to ensure of all three points for the Stags.

David Flitcroft’s hand was forced into two changes following the 1-0 victory over Forest Green Rovers last week.

Matt Preston, who had been suffering with a reoccurring knee issue, was replaced by the returning Ryan Sweeney – while Tyler Walker’s void was filled by fellow frontman, Nicky Ajose.

Mansfield found themselves on the attack within the opening minutes as Jorge Grant looked to shift away from his marker.

Unfortunately for the Stags' loanee, he did so with ease but slipped at the crucial moment, allowing Cheltenham to hook away the danger.

Luke Varney threatened with a darting run down the left flank, however, his subsequent cross evaded everyone inside the 18-yard box.

Soon after, Grant found yet another pocket of space inside the visitors’ half, but his long-range effort had its sting extracted from it due to a block.

The afternoon’s Sky Bet League Two clash had seen little notable actions as the clocked ticked towards the half-hour mark.

But it threatened to spark into life on 25 minutes as the hosts drove upfield with purpose.

Neal Bishop, free inside the Robins’ penalty area, was unable to connect cleanly with CJ Hamilton’s low delivery before Cheltenham themselves broke.

A looping cross by Hussey dropped dangerously at the Jordan Smith’s far post, only for Mal Benning to nod away at the pivotal moment.

Flitcroft’s charges upped the ante thereafter with Ajose’s reverse pass rolling just too far behind his onrushing teammates.  

This came prior to Jacob Mellis’ rifled drive that was halted by a well-timed block 14 yards from goal.

The Stags’ attacking verve reared its head twice more towards the end of the half – and with deadly outcome.

Ajose’s attempted pass for Hamilton was initially blocked, but the winger did eventually collect the ball and find the far corner to put his side in the driving seat.

And just four minutes later the wing-back had notched an impressive quick-fire brace.

Stags’ number 22 plucked the ball down and rolled home into the opposite corner, wrong-footing Flinders to gift the hosts clear daylight just seconds before the half drew to a close.

Despite taking a two-goal cushion into the second period, Mansfield showed little signs of reluctance as they sought after their third.

Hamilton – with his eyes on the match ball – rounded Flinders but the Robins’ shot-stopper was able to recover in time to touch the wing-back’s effort around the upright.

However, for all of Mansfield’s attacking intent, they looked to be undone at the other end via a wrongful decision.

Mal Benning seemed to have planted a perfectly-timed challenge to halt Varney; but referee Alan Young saw otherwise and brandished a yellow card for the Mansfield figure instead.  

Subsequently, the close-range set-piece was curled home delicately by Hussey to halve the deficit on 59 minutes.

And just 10 minutes later, the visitors restored parity.

Goalscorer Hussey turned provider for Raglan with the centre-half finding space to guide a header beyond the reach of Smith.

The hosts looked to bounce back quickly as Grant forced a superb save from Flinders, before Mellis then stung the palms of the Cheltenham ‘keeper a minute later.

And the Stags’ never-say-die attitude came to the forefront with 77 minutes elapsed.

Sweeney rose highest from Grant’s far-side corner, directing the ball back into the mix and giving substitute Atkinson the easy job of stooping low to power the ball home.

MacDonald replaced Ajose with minutes remaining – but there was still enough time for another substitute to make his mark on the scoresheet.

The midfielder made a smart interception before running half the length of the field to slot beyond Flinders in a calm, yet expert manner.

Soon after, Hussey looked for his second goal of the afternoon but his effort curled wide of Smith’s upright to mark the end of riveting proceedings in Mansfield.

Next up for the Stags is an away trip to face Port Vale in Sky Bet League Two.

STAGS XI: Smith (GK), Benning, Pearce ©, Bishop, Mellis, Tomlinson, Sweeney, Jones (Atkinson 46’), Ajose, Hamilton, Grant (Turner 80’).

SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), MacDonald, Khan, Smith, Hakeem. 

CHELTENHAM XI: Flinders (GK), Hussey, Tozer © (Barnett 46’), Thomas, Dawson (Lloyd 85’), Broom, Boyle, Maddox (Waters 82’), Raglan, Tillson, Varney. 

SUBS NOT USED: Lapworth (GK), Forster, Clements, Pring. 

REFEREE: Alan Young.

ASSISTANTS: Steven Rushton & Richard Bartlett.  

FOURTH OFFICIAL: Thomas Harty.

ATTENDANCE: 5,276 (181 away).


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