Mansfield Town 4-1 Doncaster Rovers (EFL League Two) 28.01.23
An 8,000 plus crowd packed into the One Call Stadium on Saturday afternoon to see Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town pick up their first win of the new year, and with it their four point of the month, with victory over visiting Doncaster Rovers.
The Stags, they couldn’t have asked for a better start to proceedings either, taking the lead after just twenty-five seconds when visiting defender, Tom Anderson, put the ball past his own ‘keeper, Jonathan Mitchell, to send the home fans into raptures.
That goal came on the back of some great work by Elliott Hewitt whose cross reached Stephen Quinn at the far post, his ball back across the goalmouth found its way into the net off the unfortunate Anderson; but it was a game that would be fraught with injury stoppages as well.
As early as the seventh minute the hosts were forced into a change, Clough bringing on Kieran Wallace for Stephen McLaughlin, it coming on the back of two, injury stoppages, the visitors seeing Charlie Seaman, and the hosts, McLaughlin, before making the change.
Doncaster went looking for an equaliser and came close shortly after the enforced, Stags change, James Maxwell evading challenges only to be blocked by Alfie Kilgour as the ball is driven across goal; Seaman then saw a left-footed effort blazed wide after he’d cut inside to unleash a shot.
Midway through the first and the Stags doubled their lead when Kilgour, on his full debut for the Stags, made it two, firing home on the half-volley, from sixteen yards out after Rovers had failed to clear a corner, however, further injury stoppages added time onto the first half as Hiram Boateng, Rhys Oates, and Quinn, all needed the treatment.
The Stags though, they held on to take a two-goal, interval lead, one which was, eventually, added to in the second period, after the visiting Rovers had afforded their travelling support, some hope.
Within ten minutes of the restart Rovers had pulled a goal back after Ro-Shaun Williams played through Kyle Hurst, he finishing past Scott Flinders in the Mansfield goal, it would be what was needed to reawaken the hosts and, less than ten minutes the later, the two-goal cushion was re-established.
On the hour, Flinders pumped a long-ball up-field, and giving chase was that of Lucas Akins, and proceeded to lob the advancing Mitchell for his fourth of the season, before first, substitute Ollie Clarke, on the volley, then Kilgour, from the resultant corner, both saw chances go amiss.
George Miller had a great chance for visiting Rovers with a little over ten left on the clock, but Flinders was equal to it in the Stags goal, pulling off a crucial save after Caolan Lavery slipped behind the home defence, crossed for George Miller, but is denied at the last.
Clough would make further changes, late in the game, bringing on Jordan Bowery, and Will Swan, in quick succession, as the game crossed into the final ten minutes, and it was the latter of the two, on for Oates, who put the icing on the cake.
Akins provided a beautiful turn and pass, with less than five on the clock, setting up Swan, the Stags’ top-scorer netting his ninth of the season when finishing well in the bottom corner, and in turn, doubling their tally from their first, three games of the year, in one, fail swoop.
Victory though, was the Stags’ twelfth in the league this season, and saw them re-enter the play-offs moving level on points with that of Salford, and Swindon Town, the trio being six points off fourth place Carlisle United, and seven off Northampton Town, in the final, automatic promotion place.
Next up for Clough’s Stags is a trip to Yorkshire, and Mark Hughes’ Bradford City (4 February), they sitting a point, and a place, beneath the Nottinghamshire side, but with a game in hand.
Mansfield Town: Scott Flinders, Alfie Kilgour, Elliott Hewitt, James Perch, Callum Johnson, Louis Reed, Hiram Boateng (Ollie Clarke, 45+1), Stephen Quinn, Stephen McLaughlin (Kieran Wallace, 7; Jordan Bowery, 83), Lucas Akins, Rhys Oates (Will Swan, 84)
Venue: Field Mill (8,116).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc celebrations as Mansfield prove too strong for Doncaster.