MANSFIELD TOWN

3-2

DARLINGTON
Brightwell 23 og, Hassell 35, Lawrence 46   Atkinson 28 pen, Naylor 69

The Stags gave a long awaited home debut to Reserve keeper Kevin Pilkington, regular keeper Bobby Mimms dropped to the bench.  Injury again ruled out Wayne Corden but Lee Williamson and Les Robinson had recovered sufficiently from knocks, sustained at Rochdale on Saturday, to take their place in the starting line-up.  Lee Williams returned from illness to take his place on the Stags bench.  For Darlington former Stags winger Steve Harper made a return to Field Mill, having played here earlier in the season for Hull City.

Stags began in the same confident manner they had done in the previous two home games and were almost ahead on 8 minutes when Alexandre Jeannin almost scored an incredible own goal when his interception somehow ballooned just past the upright with Darlo keeper Collett well beaten.  Indeed it was a surprise that it took until the 23rdPilkington claims a cross on his debut minute before the home side took the lead.  When the opening goal did come it was quite bizarre - after a good move between Greenacre and Bradley the ball fell to Hassell and his cross from the right hand side of the box was put past his own keeper by ex Manchester City midfielder David Brightwell.  However, 5 minutes later the Quakers were back on level terms, a deep cross evaded the Stags defence but when it appeared the danger had past Lee Williamson pushed John Williams in the back and the referee had no choice but to give a penalty.  Brian Atkinson clinically converted the kick.  Undaunted by the set back the Stags continued to press, with Hassell particularly impressive in the midfield and Reddington handling everything very neatly at the back.  Stags retook the lead on 35 minutes when Hassell latched on to a loose clearance and fire a deflected shot past the Darlo keeper.  This time it was Hassell's goal as his initial shot was clearly goal bound.

Half Time 2-1

Stags took complete control of the match just after the interval when Liam Lawrence scored his third of the season when the Stags youngster superbly volleyed home Bradley's cross.  However, after the goal the Stags seemed to sit back and invite pressure, causing several nervous moments for the Stags defence.  Thankfully, the visitors strikers were having an off day, as a couple of great chances were fired wide of Pilkington's post.  The Stags luck did not hold out and with 20 minutes remaining Darlo pulled a goal back.  A neat flick on at the near post from a left wing corner was well finished by Naylor.  Stags now became edgy and the passing style so dominant in the first hour had all but disappeared.  In an attempt to regain control the Stags boss introduced Mark Blake for Craig Disley and Andy White for the again impressive Shayne Bradley.  Blake did a good job steadying the ship and made a couple of well times interceptions as well as providing a great chance for Lawrence which the youngster fired over.  Stags skipper Les Robinson was replaced near the end to a well deserved standing ovation - he was replaced by Lee Williams.  Despite a nervy ending the Stags held on to secure their 3rd successive home victory.

Man of the Match:  Bobby Hassell

Attendance:  1, 878

Stags:  Pilkington, Reddington, Robinson (Williams 87), Asher, Jervis, Lawrence, Hassell, Williamson, Disley (Blake 82), Greenacre, Bradley (White 82).  Subs Not used: Boulding, Mimms

Darlo:  Collett, Liddle, Harper, Jeannin, Brightwell, Bernard, Atkinson, Williams (Naylor 64), Hodgson, Convery, Marcelle (Williamson 80) 

Referee:  M Ryan (Preston)