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Match report: Port Vale 2-1 Stags

9 March 2019

Mansfield Town were condemned to a 2-1 defeat against Port Vale at Vale Park on Saturday afternoon.

The first half in Stoke-on-Trent ended goalless with Nicky Ajose’s penalty being saved by Scott Brown.

And despite the Stags’ frontman making amends by netting just after the hour mark, it was never enough as Ricky Miller’s quick-fire brace beforehand would ultimately seal victory for John Askey’s side.

David Flitcroft made only one alteration as Will Atkinson – last Saturday’s match-winner – replaced Gethin Jones in the starting lineup.

It took only a matter of seconds for proceedings to spark into life as the hosts fashioned the game’s first chance within 20 seconds.

David Worrall looked to fire an effort beyond Jordan Smith, however, it instead arrowed beyond his upright and out of harm’s way.

Ajose then capitalised on a loose touch by Leon Legge but his subsequent pass trickled the wrong side of Jacob Mellis’ darting run.  

Vale though, desperate for their first victory in Sky Bet League Two since January, responded thereafter with Tom Conlon.  

The midfielder’s curling effort was well-blocked by the outstretched leg of a Stags defender and hooked from immediate danger.

Ajose sought space in-behind Vale’s back-line but was unable to elude the assistant’s flag that followed for offside.

And on 18 minutes, the Stags squandered a golden chance to take the lead.

CJ Hamilton made use of his blistering pace on the left side, and Legge clipped the Mansfield winger in the process to earn the away side a spot-kick.  

It was Ajose who assumed responsibility from 12 yards, yet he was matched by Brown who palmed the ball out for a corner.

With the home crowd now buoyant, the Valiants went in search of a golden chance of their own.

Conlon had a close-range free-kick saved comfortably by Smith, before Mal Benning made a vital interception just seconds before Worrall looked to pull the trigger.

Mansfield then battled for a succession of corners as the half neared its conclusion but could only muster half-chances – despite plenty of pinball action that ensued.

Will Tomlinson favoured himself from distance as three added minutes were signalled, yet his ambitious effort was always spinning wide of the mark.

This marked the end of an entertaining first half, which saw both sides level at the break.

The Stags picked up where they left after the interval, with Tomlinson’s blocked effort earning his side a corner.

But in the 50th minute, Flitcroft’s charges fell behind.

Former Mansfield frontman, Miller, raced clear courtesy of a Vale through-ball and he kept his composure to round Smith and slot home into an unguarded net.

And just two minutes later both Miller notched his second of the afternoon.  

Krystian Pearce’s attempted clearance ricocheted against the body of a teammate; inadvertently laying the ball on a plate for Miller to smash home his brace.

It was a killer few moments for the Yellows who would have to bounce back quickly in order to retrieve anything from the afternoon’s clash.

However, it was the hosts who looked to more likely to add a third goal to the scoresheet.

Worrall struck a venomous attempt wide just moments prior to Luke Hannant also firing wide.

An already gripping contest then became even more so on the hour mark when Ajose’s instincts kicked in.  

The Stags’ striker peeled off at the back post to meet substitute Otis Khan’s pinpoint cross with his head – ultimately halving the deficit.

Miller was then offered a brilliant chance for his hat-trick following Will Atkinson’s misjudged backpass, but Smith thwarted him at the crucial moment.

Possession was recycled by Vale and it took a heroic goal-line block from skipper Pearce to deny Hannant restoring his side’s two-goal cushion.

Mansfield continued to probe the Valiants’ defence as Benning won his side a dangerous set-piece.

Grant, overlooking the scenario, delivered a deep cross that was eventually nodded wide by Ben Turner.

There were five minutes of additional time signalled, however, the hosts remained resolute and condemned the Stags to only their sixth loss in Sky Bet League Two this season.

Mansfield are back in action on Tuesday evening, where they will be hoping to return to winning ways against Crawley Town at Broadfield Stadium.

STAGS XI: Smith (GK), Benning, Pearce ©, Bishop, Mellis (MacDonald 66’), Atkinson, Tomlinson (Khan 56’), Sweeney (Turner 51’), Ajose, Hamilton, Grant.

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

PORT VALE XI: Brown (GK), Joyce, Legge, Worrall, Oyeleke (Kay 82’), Miller (Whitfield 81’), Hannant (Montano 87’), Crookes, Smith, Conlon, Clark. 

SUBS NOT USED: Hornby (GK), Gibbons, Harris, Howkins.  

REFEREE: Darren Bond.

ASSISTANTS: Mark Dwyer & Adam Matthews.   


ATTENDANCE: 5,231 (1,430 away).

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