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Match Reports

Report: Stags 2-1 Walsall

15 October 2022

Super sub Will Swan climbed off the bench to head home the decisive goal as Mansfield continued their superb league form with a 2-1 win at home to Walsall.

George Lapslie and Liam Bennett both scored in the first half and, as the game looked to be heading for an unnoteworthy draw, Akins superbly assisted for Swan to grab the winner on 82 minutes.

Mansfield, not at their rip-roaring best, extended their unbeaten league record to seven games.

Stags’ boss Nigel Clough named an unchanged line-up from last Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win at Barrow.

Walsall were without their top scorer, Danny Johnson, who was ineligible to play against his parent club.

After a slow start, Stags rattled the workwork in the game’s first chance after nine minutes.

Just inside the Walsall box, Lapslie slipped the ball outside to Jordan Bowery who smashed the top of the bar with a wonderful curling hit.

Mansfield upped the gears and Stephen McLaughlin went close three minutes later as his diving header at the back post flew narrowly wide from George Maris’ right-sided free-kick.

Stags’ attacking prowess paid off in the 15th minute when they took the lead through Lapslie.

Elliott Hewitt, at right wing-back, galloped half the length of the pitch to send a high ball to the back post for Stephen Quinn.

And the Irishman headed down from the edge of the goal area to Lapslie who swivelled before planting his shot into the bottom left hand corner.

At the other end, Walsall surged forward and Stags had Oli Hawkins to thank as the giant defender turned the ball behind for a corner after Liam Bennett crossed dangerously towards goal from the dead ball line.

On 28 minutes, the Saddlers had a double opportunity to draw level when Walsall’s Taylor Allen got the better of Hewitt but saw his shot blocked .

Then, seconds later, Stags’ goalkeeper Christy Pym had to get down low to push Isaac Hutchinson’s drive around the post.

Stags were soon back up the other end and George Maris curled wide from 25 yards as the game ticked over the half-hour mark.

Walsall levelled on 35 minutes with a rasping strike from right wing-back Liam Bennett.

Latching on to a sprayed pass from the left, Bennett peeled away from his man before lashing home on the right hand side of the box, beating Pym at his near post.

Mansfield looked to for an immediate reply but no one inside the Walsall box could meet Quinn’s superb left-wing cross.

Hewitt then lined up an audacious 35-yard attempt which arrowed narrowly over the angle of crossbar and post.

Inside stoppage time at the end of the first half, Hawkins flicked the ball away on the edge of his goal area after Bennett whipped an inviting cross from the right.

Four minutes after the restart, Walsall shot-stopper Owen Evans was well behind a low effort from Lucas Akins as Stags looked to restore their advantage.

On 53 minutes, Hawkins – so good in the first-half – was robbed of the ball by Douglas James-Taylor on the left touchline.

But the Saddlers’ striker was stopped in his advance towards goal by an astute block from Riley Harbottle.

Stags went on the offensive and McLaughlin delivered from the left, but Akins – closely monitored by the Walsall defence -  nodded wide from 12 yards.

As the match crept over the hour, Nigel Clough made a treble change as midfielders Anthony Hartigan, George Boateng and striker Will Swan replaced Stephen Quinn, Ollie Clarke and Jordan Bowery.

Walsall boss Mike Flynn made his first substitution on 67 minutes when Andrew Williams replaced Tom Knowles, following a two minute stoppage in play for treatment.

Chances were at a premium for both sides and McLaughlin earned Stags’ first corner on 70 minutes with a rasping long-range effort which deflected behind.

And the same man left fly seven minutes later, with the shot ending in the Quarry Lane End.

Then came the magic moment as Swan gave the game a much-needed kiss of life with a fine finish on 82 minutes.

McLaughlin fed Akins on the left, who used both strength and skill to beat Hayden White before delivering a delicious ball into the box. And Swan did the rest, climbing highest between two defenders to power a header beyond Evans from seven yards.

Walsall made a treble change with five minutes of normal time to spare before James Perch came on for Maris in the 89th minute for Mansfield.

And despite seven minutes of time being added on, Stags never looked this time like letting their lead slip.

STAGS: Pym, Bowery (Swan 62), Hewitt, Hawkins, Harbottle, McLaughlin, Clarke (Hartigan 62), Maris (Perch 89), Quinn (Boateng 62), Lapslie, Akins

UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Law, O’Toole

WALSALL: Evans, White, Monthe, Kinsella, Knowles (Williams 67), Comley (Gordon 85), James-Taylor (Cashman 85), Allen, Hutchinson (Maddox 81), Clarke (Abraham 85), Bennett

UNUSED SUBS: Mukuna, Maher

REFEREE: Sam Purkiss

ATTENDANCE: 6,821 (796 Walsall fans)

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