Mansfield Town picked up a big away victory with a 1-0 win at Stevenage FC on Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Sweeney opened the scoring for the Stags, who deserved their half-time lead. The defender stabbed home from a corner in the 23rd minute.
Stevenage dominated the second half, coming closest through Luke Norris in the 54th minute who forced Aidan Stone into a smart reaction save.
Boss Nigel Clough made just one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Newport County last time out as captain Ollie Clarke was dropped to the bench in place of Jamie Reid. James Perch took the armband for the afternoon’s early kick off.
The Stags almost took a first-minute lead when Stephen McLaughlin intercepted a Boro’ clearance and found Reid who clipped the ball to Jordan Bowery but his shot from 12 yards lacked conviction and Jamie Cumming caught the ball with ease.
Stevenage had their first dangerous chance ten minutes later as Joe Martin used his 6’3” frame to climb highest and head goalward, forcing Stone into a sharp save down to his right.
The game progressed in a fluid fashion, showcasing end to end football for the next 15 minutes as both sides looked to attack but earned a yellow card in a piece in the process, George Lapslie and Terence Vancooten entering the referee’s book for separate fouls.
Mansfield’s attacking outlook payed off in the 23rd minute through an unconventional source as centre-half Sweeney poked the ball home for the Stags from less than six yards after the ball fell to him from a corner, his fourth goal of the season.
The game continued in a slower fashion to which it had started but Mansfield continued to have the better of possession as neither side showed a clear sign of threatening the opposition goal.
The half petered out with the only moment of note coming from Tyrese Sinclair who, fuelled by confidence having scored his first professional goal for the Stags last time out, took aim from 25 yards and forced Cumming into a brisk save. The halftime whistle went, and the Stags trotted off down the tunnel protecting a lead at the break for just the fifth time in the last 20 games.
With work to do, Stevenage came out the brighter side as the second half began. Martin’s cross-cum-shot landed on the roof of the net within the opening seconds of the final period and Jack Aitchinson fired high into the South stand after a stunning passing move from the home side in the 50th minute.
By the 54th minute, Stone had been called into action again, exhibiting more quick reactions as he got low to deny Norris from close range.
The siege continued and Stone made another good save in the 57th minute, this time diving at the feet of Elliott List who was running in from the left wing.
The game lost its fluidity and became very stop-start for the next 25 minutes but Boro’ maintained control of the game, reducing Mansfield to little more than hopeful, long-range efforts from Jason Law and then Sinclair shortly after. Despite this, the home side were also struggling in the final third and Stone remained untroubled since List’s chance.
The hosts had a couple of late shouts for fouls and a penalty in the closing minutes, but the referee Samuel Barrott waved them all away and the Stags earned their first away win since Southend in late January.
Mansfield’s attention now turns to Scunthorpe at home next Tuesday.
STAGS XI: Stone (GK), Perch (C), Rawson, Sweeney, McLaughlin, Maris, Quinn (O. Clarke 53’), Lapslie (Law 61’), Sinclair (Charsley 86’), Reid, Bowery.
UNUSED SUBS: Stech (GK), Benning, Gordon, Ward.
STEVENAGE XI: Cumming (GK), James-Wildin, Prosser (c), Osborne (Smith 46’), Vancooten, List, Pett, Aitchison, Martin (Coker 71’), Norris, Lines.
UNUSED SUBS: Johnson (GK), Vincelot, Cuthbert, Hutton, Stevens.
REFEREE: Samuel Barrott
OFFICIALS: Christopher Kidd and Samuel Ogles
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Garry Maskell