Mansfield Town 1-0 Barrow (EFL League Two) 23.09.2023
They made hard work of it, when home to what eventually was ten-man Barrow, but Nigel Clough’s side have stretched their unbeaten start to the season to eleven games in all competitions (taking into consideration end of last season, 12 matches) following a 1-0 win in front of 6,714 spectators.
The game itself was one of slim pickings, both sides having few shots on target throughout the ninety minutes but, a fifth clean sheet from Christy Pym and the sturdy Stage defence kept the hosts in the hunt for all three points.
In fact, it was to be that defence that came up trumps prior to the only goal of the game being scored, Emile Acquah with perhaps the best chance of the first period when, midway through the half, and following a low cut-back from Robbie Gotts, sent a right-footed effort over Pym’s bar.
Acquah missed a couple of chances for the misfiring visitors who could just as easily led themselves at the break; goalless at the break however, it was again the visitors that had the best chance first in the second period as Rory Feely, following a corner from Dean Campbell sent a headed effort high and wide of the home goal.
Spurred into life, the Stags then saw a number of blocked efforts as they peppered Paul Farman’s goal with Jordan Bowery, Davis Keillor-Dunn, Will Swan all see chances go amiss in quick succession, before Pym saved a goal-bound effort, from outside the box, by Gerard Garner.
The breakthrough eventually arrived with a little under twenty minutes remaining, the Stags netting with their shot on target after Swan made a darting run on the left flank before pulling the ball back for Ollie Clarke to release a right-footed effort past Farman, and into the bottom left corner from twenty yards.
It was the first goal of the current campaign for Clarke, who joined the Stags in 2020 following a number of years with his boyhood club, Bristol Rovers, he having already become a stalwart, and mainstay, of Clough’s side.
As Barrow looked to get back into the contest, and maybe fashion out an equaliser, their cause was ultimately hindered by a late, straight red card; with seven minutes left on the clock, Stags’ Aaron Lewis was brought down by defender Junior Tiensia, match official Marc Edwards dismissing the player for the lunge.
The Stags looked to take advantage, and upped the tempo somewhat, but to no avail, Davis Keillor-Dunn fashioning the best chance late on but his effort, from outside the box, was saved by the former Newcastle United youth player, Farman, in the visiting goal, the hosts making do with a 1-0 win.
Next up for the Stags, as they look to continue their impressive unbeaten start, is a home game against Peterborough United in the Carabao Cup Third Round on Tuesday night, followed by a trip to second placed Gillingham on Saturday (30 September) afternoon, they sitting one point and one place above the Stags.
Stags: Christy Pym, Jordan Bowery, Aden Flint, Lewis Brunt, Calum MacDonald (Baily Cargill 77), Aaron Lewis (Hiram Boateng 85), Louis Reed, Ollie Clarke (George Maris 77), Davis Keillor-Dunn, Lucas Akins, Will Swan (James Gale 85).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc celebrations for the Stags who are third in the League Two table.