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Match Reports

Report: Stags 1-1 Northampton

26 December 2022

Will Swan’s eighth league goal of the season earned Mansfield a hard-fought 1-1 draw with promotion rivals Northampton Town at One Call Stadium on Boxing Day.

The 22-year-old was introduced from the bench at half-time before poking the Stags ahead on 84 minutes. 

Mansfield had to settle for a draw, however, as League Two top scorer Sam Hoskins levelled four minutes later for the visitors.  

Manager Nigel Clough made two changes to the team that earned a well-earned point away to Stevenage in league action two weeks ago. Right-back Kellan Gordan returned in place of Lucas Akins whilst Hiram Boateng replaced Ollie Clarke in midfield.  

The game’s first opening came on six minutes after Riley Harbottle’s ill-timed slip allowed Northampton midfielder Ben Fox to capitalise by curling a right-footed shot from the edge of the box narrowly over the crossbar, aided by a George Maris deflection.  

Three minutes later, Oli Hawkins’ edge-of-the-box foul presented a second opportunity to the visitors. Sam Hoskins guided the subsequent, left-sided free-kick with his right boot powerfully into the side-netting as Stags withstood Northampton’s early pressure. 

Midfielder Anthony Hartigan was introduced after a quarter-of-an-hour as centre-back Harbottle was unable to continue following an injury. Mansfield subsequently changed to a back-four formation. 

The visitors continued to control possession but were denied goalscoring opportunities by Mansfield’s resilient defending.  

The Stags threatened an opener on the half-hour after Gordon’s floated cross from the right found the head of Maris whose far-out effort was held by Lee Burge in the Northampton goal.  

The Cobblers should have converted the game’s first goal on 36 minutes after Hoskins’ cross picked out Fox who miscued an attempt well-wide despite finding himself free in the centre of the Mansfield box. 

The remainder of the half was played out with little goal-mouth action as the Stags began to take up promising positions within the Northampton half.  

Mansfield manager Nigel Clough made a further two changes at the break as striker Will Swan and defender James Perch replaced midfielders George Lapslie and Hiram Boateng. 

Stags’ stopper Christy Pym was called upon four minutes into the second-half as Hoskins turned and shot from inside the box, but Pym saved firmly at his near post.  

Moments later, Maris flashed a dangerous delivery across the Northampton box before the ball disappointingly dribbled behind for a goal kick. 

Mansfield continued to work hard in the middle of the pitch in order to force a path to goal. They very nearly did so on 77 minutes when Gordon’s right-sided cross narrowly evaded a Stags’ player in front of goal before McLaughlin’s dangerous follow-up delivery was nodded clear. 

Four minutes later, Northampton forward Akin Odimayo latched onto a loose ball outside the Stags’ box before driving a 20-yard effort along the ground and narrowly wide of the bottom left corner. 

Stags’ hard work and patience finally came to fruition on 84 minutes when substitute Swan fired Mansfield ahead. A right-sided corner was allowed to drop in front of the Northampton goal which was cleared against the shins of Oates, forcing Burge into a low reaction save before Swan steered home the rebound from close-range. 

However, the visitors hit straight back as Hoskins’ back-post run was found by Mitch Pinnock’s left-sided cross, allowing the forward to volley the ball first-time into the far side of goal.  

The final stages were closely matched as both teams played out a hard-fought draw. 

The Stags sit sixth, two points clear of eighth before their clash with strugglers Hartlepool on Thursday. 

STAGS: Pym, Gordon, Hewitt, Hawkins, Harbottle (Hartigan 15’), McLaughlin, Maris, Quinn (Clarke 69’), Boateng (Perch 45’), Lapslie (Swan 45’), Oates 

UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Wallace, Akins  

NORTHAMPTON TOWN: Burge, McGowan (Hylton 79’), Guthrie, Sherring, Hoskins, Fox (Pinnock 68’), Appéré (Felix-Eppiah 79’), Leonard, McWilliams (Sowerby 79’), Bowie (Magloire 68’), Odimayo 

UNUSED SUBS: Maxted, Haynes  

REFEREE: Benjamin Speedie 

ATTENDANCE: 7,301 (589 away) 


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