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Match Reports

Report: Walsall 1-2 Stags

26 October 2019

Andy Cook and Alex MacDonald were on target in either half for Mansfield Town as they secured a 2-1 victory over Walsall at Banks’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Cook notched the opener half an hour into the contest when he arrived at the far post to head home against his former club.

And despite substitute Elijah Adebayo finding an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, MacDonald netted his first of the season to mark the Stags’ latest victory in Sky Bet League Two.

John Dempster made no alterations to either his starting line-up or bench with the same 18 setting up in the West Midlands.

It was Walsall who posed the greater threat in the opening moments as both sides made themselves comfortable with the slick surface.

A far-side corner was able to be headed down by Kory Roberts before smashing the rebound into Neal Bishop, who had made a superb last-ditch challenge from close range.

The visitors sought to grow into the afternoon’s affair and were agonisingly close to taking the lead on 12 minutes.

Nicky Maynard darted towards the near post to meet Mal Benning’s expert delivery, but the striker was thwarted by Jack Rose.

The Stags’ frontman took aim soon after only to see his curler deflected behind – the subsequent corner providing little in the way of a goalscoring opportunity.

Dan Scarr’s over-the-top ball then found Rory Gaffney bearing down on goal, yet Conrad Logan was on hand to deny him with a fine, sprawling stop.

The travelling fans could be heard loudly throughout the opening period, however on the half-hour mark, their decibel levels were raised even further.

Otis Khan carried the ball into the hosts’ penalty area before standing it up to the far post for Cook to nod home against his former side.

The Stags number 10 – who was instrumental in the opener – looked to be provider once more with a clever backheel that so nearly reached Maynard.

Cook then turned delightfully on the ball prior to fizzing an effort wide of Rose’s upright.

And for all of Mansfield’s positive endeavours in the first-half, they were pegged back with only one minute remaining.

Ryan Sweeney was adjudged to have felled Adebayo and the substitute brushed himself off to connect with the following delivery, restoring parity in the process.

Into the second half and it was the Saddlers who were the first to be presented with a clear sight of goal.  

The ball fell kindly for Adebayo whose attempt to curl home towards the far corner was halted by the fingertips of Logan.

There was an open feel to the second period – highlighted as Maynard flicked a header goalwards just moments before Cameron Norman had volleyed over the bar.

Skipper Krystian Pearce was then unable to continue on the hour mark, replaced in a like-for-like change by Matt Preston.

And a momentary lapse in concentration almost cost Mansfield.

Liam Kinsella stole possession from Kellan Gordon, feeding Gaffney who, yet again, was unable to find a way past Logan.

Instead, they had the Stags’ shot-stopper to thank as they countered with speed to snatch the lead back.  

Benning drove towards the by-line and his reverse pass met MacDonald who thundered an effort past Rose with aplomb.

Sending the 877 Stags fans behind the goal in pandemonium, the away side had restored their one-goal advantage with 22 minutes left on the clock.

The Saddlers, intent on finding a second equaliser, watched as Adebayo nodded over in dangerous territory.

However, they were almost undone just minutes later when Cook’s volleyed cross rebounded against Scarr and into the midriff of Rose.

Mansfield thought they had wrapped up all three points in the dying moments when Khan teed up Benning to fire a whipped effort narrowly wide.

It mattered little, though, as Mansfield defended with solidity in the final minutes to earn all three points.

The amber and blue are next in action on Saturday November 02 as they welcome Colchester United to One Call Stadium.

STAGS XI: Logan (GK), Benning, Pearce © (Preston 59’), Bishop, MacDonald, Khan, Maynard (Hamilton 87’), Shaughnessy, Sweeney, Cook (Afolayan 90’), Gordon.

UNUSED SUBS: Olejnik (GK), Tomlinson, Knowles, Smith.

WALSALL XI: Rose (GK), Norman, Scarr, Sinclair ©, Kinsella, Gordon (Adebayo 26’), Roberts, Holden (McDonald 72’), Bates (Guthrie 63’), Cockerill-Mollett, Gaffney.

UNUSED SUBS: Roberts (GK), Hardy, Facey, Liddle.  

REFEREE: Andy Haines

ASSISTANTS: Peter Gooch & Gary Hilton


ATTENDANCE: 4,521 (877 away)

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