Stags’ midfielder Harry Charsley came off the bench to record a brace and fire Mansfield to their seventh-consecutive home league win by beating Walsall 2-0 at One Call Stadium.
The 25-year-old propelled the Stags into the play-off places with two fine finishes in the second-half.
Mansfield’s number seven opened the scoring on 57 minutes by smashing home Oli Hawkins’ flick-on following Elliot Hewitt’s defence-beating long throw-in.
The second from the former Everton man came two minutes from time to win the game for the Stags.
Manager Nigel Clough made one change to the team that impressively beat Swindon Town 3-2 at One Call Stadium in midweek. Midfielder Ryan Stirk missed the fixture through after testing positive for Covid-19, allowing for defender Farrend Rawson to make his return to the side.
The contest began with a lively start by the visitors, testing Mansfield down their right side within the opening three minutes.
However, the Stags soon looked to unlock the visitors’ defence on seven minutes. Nathan Bishop’s long ball was flicked on by Jordan Bowery, before captain Ollie Clarke returned the forward’s pass to play in Bowery. The striker delicately lifted a prodded lob over the ‘keeper, but his effort was mopped up by the Saddlers defence – preventing the Stags’ number nine from recreating the type of goal he excellently despatched in midweek.
A minute later, Rhys Oates’ knockdown agonisingly beat the run of his strike-partner, Bowery, inside the box. The former Crewe forward was unable to make contact with the ball as Mansfield began to turn the screw.
Walsall provided a resistance to the barrage of Mansfield attacks and created their own opportunities moments later. George Miller’s ambitious effort from distance on 12 minutes failed to test Nathan Bishop in the Mansfield net and Tyrese Shade’s half-volley a minute later also evaded the ‘keeper’s goalframe.
At the other end. Bishop’s goal-kick was flicked on to Bowery, whose snap-shot inside the box was pushed behind by Walsall ‘keeper Chris Rushworth at his near post. Quinn’s delivery from the subsequent corner was nodded goalward by Stephen McLaughlin before Hayden White cleared off the goal-line for the visitors on 21 minutes.
Six minutes later, George Maris won and delivered a free-kick for Stags, but Hawkins’ header narrowly drifted wide of the post.
Mansfield again came close to taking the lead ten minutes before the break. A miscued Walsall free-kick was cleared and collected by Oates, who dribbled into the opposition’s box from within his own half. The former Hartlepool forward found Quinn who crossed to Clarke, but the Stags skipper’s creative poke towards goal landed wide by inches.
Walsall continued tried to hit Stags on the break a minute later. George Miller worked his way into the box to shoot powerfully on the 36 minute, but Bishop’s strong save kept Mansfield level.
The visitors then looked to snatch a goal on the stroke of half-time after Quinn brought down Miller on the edge of the box. Shade drove the set-piece along the floor and wide of the left-hand post to keep the scores level at the interval.
Mansfield began the second half brightly with Hawkins deployed as a striker after the break, but Walsall soon began to threaten. On 56 minutes, a loose ball inside the Mansfield box was blasted goal wards before Maris heroically blocked the shot with his face on the goal-line, preventing a certain goal.
Maris’ block would dramatically increase in significance moments later as the Stags took the lead. Elliott Hewitt hurled a throw into the box which was flicked on by Hawkins at the near post, settling well for Charsley inside the box. The midfielder, who was introduced into action from the restart, pounced on the loose ball to smash it past Rushworth and take the lead on 57 minutes.
The amber and blue pursued a second immediately afterwards. McLaughlin’s free-kick on 74 minutes was cannoned into the wall and collected by Bowery whose shot on the turn was parried clear by the ‘keeper at his near post. A minute later, Oates tried his luck from distance but his effort skidded agonisingly wide.
Mansfield again came close to doubling their lead two minutes later, with their offensive charge in full swing. Quinn forced an error from the Saddlers defence to square the ball. However, Rushworth was alert to intercept the cross, parrying it into the path of Hawkins whose shot was then dramatically saved by the ‘keeper from close range.
On 78 minutes, Miller skipped inside from the left to curl a dangerous shot with his instep, though Bishop was able to tip the ball over the ‘bar.
Walsall’s threat though would soon be neutralised when Harry Charsley fired in his second goal of the game on 90 minutes, to win it for the Stags. Excellent interplay between Charsley and Bowery got the Stags up the field quickly, before Bowery’s clever ball in behind played the midfielder in. Charsley composed himself, before smashing the ball first time to beat Rushworth at his near post.
The Stags have now recorded a sixth-successive home league win ahead of a mouth-watering clash away at league-leaders Forest Green this Tuesday.
STAGS XI: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins (Gale 90’), McLaughlin, O’Toole, Clarke (C) (Charsley 46’), Maris, Quinn, Oates (Johnson 90’), Bowery
UNUSUED SUBS: Stech, Nartey, Law, Sinclair, Gale, Johnson
WALSALL XI: Rushworth, Menayese, Leak, Ward, White, Kiernan (Wilkinson 73’), Earing, Shade (Phillips 69’) , Labadie (C) (Willock 86’), Osadebe, Miller
UNUSUED SUBS: Kinsella, Perry, Rose, Mills
REFEREE: Ross Joyce
ATTNENDANCE: 5728 (884 away)