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Match Reports

Report: Stags 2-1 Exeter

4 March 2022

Mansfield Town equalled a club record of ten successive home league victories – first set in 1949 - as they overcame fellow promotion battlers Exeter City 2-1 in a Friday night thriller at One Call Stadium.

Defender Farrend Rawson opened the scoring by poking Mansfield into an early lead on 34 minutes, the defender’s first in Stags’ colours. 

Having assisted the Stags’ first, Matty Longstaff scored his second goal in as many games to seal a crucial victory and send Nigel Clough’s men into third position in Sky Bet League Two before the weekend’s  other matches. 

Mansfield’s first home victory over Exeter in 24 years ends the Grecian’s nine-game unbeaten run in the league.  

Manager Nigel Clough named one change to the side won victory away at Bradford in Mansfield’s previous fixture last Saturday. 

The Stags’ only change saw forward Jordan Bowery return to the line up in place of midfielder George Maris, who moved to the bench.  

The two sides battled for possession from the kick-off and it was the away side who had the first chance inside two minutes.

The Grecians’ striker Kieran Phillips was played in following a one-two with Josh Colley, however, Stags defender Elliott Hewitt recovered heroically to make an important sliding challenge. 

Mansfield organised themselves well to shut out their visitors for the following period. 

After an evenly contested opening, Mansfield tested Cam Dawson for the first time on 15 minutes as Matty Longstaff’s lively volley was clung on to by the Exeter ‘keeper. 

Having produced a fine save in the closing stages of Mansfield’s victory away to Bradford last week, Nathan Bishop again demonstrated his reactions two minutes later. Phillips found space to turn and shoot in front of goal before Stags’ stopper denied him coolly from close-range. 

Mansfield soon began to find their rhythm and they threatened Exeter’s goal after 20 minutes through some half-chances. First, Ryan Stirk’s volley inside the box was miscued on 22 minutes, before Jamie Murphy’s guided cross came close to linking up with Longstaff at the back post three minutes later. 

The Stags’ high tempo came to fruition in the 34th minute as Farrend Rawson thumped Mansfield into a first-half lead. Longstaff’s tempting cross into the six-yard box came off the back of Rhys Oates for Rawson to react quickest to tap it over the line. 

With their tails up, McLaughlin fronted a Mansfield soon after the restart, which ended when the Irishman whipped the ball narrowly over the crossbar.  

Mansfield began the second-half brightly as Rhys Oates provided the Stags’ first effort through a shot from the edge of the box on 50 minutes.  

The hosts continued to test the Grecians’ defence shortly before the hour. Quinn’s smash across goal was agonisingly collected by Dawson before a Mansfield man could poke home on 54 minutes.

Then, three minutes later, McLaughlin’s delivery picked out Oates superbly, but the in-form striker’s header was off target. 

On 58 minutes, Bishop produced a couple of point-blank stops in quick succession. Josh Coley latched on to a right-sided cross to volley low at the Mansfield goal, but the ‘keeper pulled off a superb reaction save, stood up, and denied Coley again with a second impressive diving save. 

Mansfield weren’t intimidated though and they doubled their lead on 67 minutes. A well calculated attack up field was finished off when McLaughlin’s cutback drilled its way to the unmarked Longstaff, who settled himself before blasting the ball past Dawson.

The Stags pushed for a third goal when Oates intercepted the ball on 77 minutes before squaring it to Longstaff who struck narrowly wide.

Two minutes later, Mansfield came close again. Straight off the bench, George Lapslie played a delicate through ball into Bowery who cut the ball back to Oates. The striker controlled the ball on the turn and volleyed it inches wide of the post. 

Despite the hosts controlling the later stages well, the Grecians claimed a consolation goal through Matt Jay with less than a minute to go. 

Mansfield’s record-equalling victory moves them up to third in the league before other fixtures this weekend and sets up another mouth-watering battle with promotion rivals Tranmere Rovers next Friday at Prenton Park. 

 

STAGS XI: Bishop, Akins, Rawson, Hewitt, McLaughlin, Stirk, Quinn (Wallace 82’) , Bowery, Longstaff (Lapslie 79’) , Murphy, Oates (Perch 90’) 

UNUSED SUBS: Stech, Clarke, Maris, Johnson 

EXETER XI: Dawson, Caprice, Stubbs, Jay, Collins, Key, Dieng, Phillips (Nombe 62’), Sweeney, Grounds (Sparkes 74’), Coley (Zanzala 79’) 

UNUSED SUBS: Brown, Atangana, Taylor, Hartridge 

REFEREE: Ollie Yates 

ATTENDANCE: 6,702 (392 away) 


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