LAWRENCE AND LARKIN AT THE DOUBLE
Mansfield Town 4 - 0 Cheltenham Town
Lawrence pen 7, pen 85, Larkin 45, 52.
Attendance: 4,095 (313 from Cheltenham)
Press Association report:
Mansfield bounced back from three successive defeats in style to thump Cheltenham 4-0.
The scoreline, however, was harsh on Cheltenham goalkeeper Shane Higgs, who pulled off a clutch of superb saves.
Two penalties from Liam Lawrence and Colin Larkin's brace - his first goals of the season - were enough to send Cheltenham home humiliated.
Higgs brilliantly denied Larkin from close range but the rebound fell to Lawrence. He was hacked down by Darren Jones and stepped up to convert from the spot.
Wayne Corden's curling effort was acrobatically saved by Higgs, who also denied Neil MacKenzie before Corden's cross was headed home by Larkin.
Larkin capitalised on Lee Howells' sliced clearance to make it 3-0 in the 53rd minute, and Jones' foul on Lawrence allowed him to score again from 12 yards.
Four-goal Stags back on track
MANSFIELD Town were firmly back in business at Field Mill this afternoon as they saw off struggling Cheltenham Town 4-0.
It took their home goals total to a splendid 23 in eight League games and quickly shook off the gloom of two successive away defeats at promotion rivals in the past week.
Braces for Liam Lawrence, both from the spot, and Colin Larkin, his first of the season, saw them comfortably homt though the managerless visitors will feel the score harsh on their first half efforts.
Lawrence gave Mansfield a seventh minute lead. But, with the wind at their backs, the Robins tested Kevin Pilkington on several occasions before Larkin grabbed a second just before half-time.
Even then former West Brom hotshot Bob Tayolor spurned a great stoppage time3 chnace to keep Cheltenham in the hunt.
And it was only after Larkin's second seven minutes into the second half that the visitors let their heads drop.
The Stags side showed three changes from the one that lost at Torquay on Tuesday.
Colin Larkin replaced Iyseden Christie up front, Rhys Day came in for Jamie Clarke at the back, Day playing in the centre and Luke Dimech switched to right back, and Neil MacKenzie, recovered from flu, in midfield in place of Tom Curtis.
A stray pass from Dimech put Stags under early pressure as Brayson broke into the box, Artell slipped as he tried to stop him but Day came up with an excellent block on Brayson's attempted finish.
And with their first raid of the game, Mansfield grabbed the lead on seven minutes.
Larkin played a one-two with Mendes to get into the box and strike a good low shot that keeper Higgs kept out with his legs. The ball ran loose and, after Mendes had slid in but failed to connect with the follow-up, the ball went to Lawrence who was immediately upended by Jones' lunging challenge to earn a penalty.
Lawrence stepped up to fire low into the bottom right hand corner and, although Higgs guessed correctly, the pace of the ball beat him for Lawrence's eighth goal of the season, his third from the spot.
Dimech conceded a needless foul just to the left of the Stags box, but Brayson's set piece was curled wildly wide.
Another Stags attack broke down which saw the Robins initiate another swift counter and Brayson raced down the right before shooting low across Pilkington and inches wide of the far post.
There followed a scrappy and uncomfortable passage of play for Mansfield with a combination of poor defending and the swirling wind.
The Robins enjoyed a good spell of possession and when Stags struggled to clear their lines, Finnigan let fly from 20 yards, forcing Pilkington to dive to his right for his first save of the game on 23 minutes.
A minute later Finnigan was cautioned for a foul on Lawrence in the centre circle.
Stags won their first corner on 29 but Higgs claimed it well, sent it straight up field towards Brayson who controlled and then sent a firm shot at goal which again forced Pilkington into action.
But Stags were starting to get their passing game together and almost extended their lead from a fine, flowing move on 34 minutes.
Dimech skipped past a challenge to find the feet of Mendes with back to goal. He laid the ball off to Larkin who played the perfect ball towards Corden as he came in from the left and, cutting inside two defenders, he unleashed a powerful shot that brought a flying save from Higgs and he somehow managed to force it over the bar.
A Devaney free kick from the Mansfield left went through everyone at the far post shortly afterwards while Dimech's challenge was just enough to force Finnigan to fire wide a minute later as the Robins again threatened.
Veteran Taylor then won the ball from Vaughan on the by-line and raced into the box to cross low, Day thankfully there first to clear a chance that should never have happened.
The Robins continued to enjoy their period of ascendancy and another poor clearance from the home defence saw Finnigan force Pilkington to dive full-length to his right to turn his low 20-yard shit round the post. And, from the corner, Taylor hooked over after a scramble.
Mansfield replied with an attack down the left that saw Mendes reach the by-line and pull the ball back for MacKenzie. He had Higgs at his mercy from 16 yards and, even though he met the first time shot sweetly with full venom, Higgs produced an equally impressive stop to keep it out.
However, that important second goal did arrive a minute later as we entered stoppage time.
Corden looped over a cross from the left which curled over Higgs at the far post and Larkin nipped in to head just inside the post for his long-awaited first goal of the season.
But there was still time for a let-off as the game continued with Williamson down injured.
Stags didn't put the ball out of play and a loose pass from MacKenzie suddenly saw the home defence badly exposed and Grayson crossed perfectly to the feet of Taylor who should have done much better from eight yards as he ballooned the ball over Pilkington and the crossbar.
Stags had to defend a Cheltenham corner in the opening seconds of the second half as the visitors came out looking hungry.
However, the Robins were stunned to find themselves 3-0 down on 52 minutes.
Mendes ran into the Robins half and laid the ball inside towards three yellow shirts, all three missing it. It ran to Howells who tried to help it back towards his keeper but it was always going to finish short and Larkin stole in to beat Higgs comprehensively from a central position.
Williamson almost added a fourth on 57 with a speculative 25 thunderbolt that dipped over Higgs and came back off the crossbar. Higgs collected it under his bar before he was unceremoniously barged into the back of his net by Mendes to concede a foul.
Larkin almost grabbed his hat-trick on 61 minutes as neat footwork from Lawrence on the by-line saw him pull the ball back for the striker to get in a ferocious shot from 10 yards which produced another superb parry from Higgs.
Pilkington was back in action on 63 to grab a McCann shot from 18 yards.
And Brayson should have done better on 67 minutes after Stags defence was left stretched when Pilkington had to race to the edge of his box to head clear. Spencer quickly set up Brayson who miscued his finish tamely wide.
Corden was much closer at the other end of the field a minute later as he cut inside two defenders with his trademark move and saw his curling finish clip the outside of the far post.
Stags had another let-off when Day failed to cut out a though ball and, after Pilkington had tried to punch clear, the ball bounced around alarmingly before it was finally cleared.
Both sides made a change on 72 with Disley replacing MacKenzie for Stags and Cleverley on for McCann for the Robins.
Three minutes later Williamson was withdrawn to give Curtis a run out.
Stags won a free kick 25 yards from goal but Corden was well over with his curled attempt while Curtis tried one from the same distance which Higgs was comfortably behind.
But the fourth goal finally arrived five minutes from time.
Another flowing move from Mansfield eased Lawrence into the box. He beat one defender and tried to squeeze the ball inside the near post only to be denied on the line by Victory. The ball ran back to him and, for the second time he was fouled by Jones in the box for a second spot kick.
The result was very much the same as he found the net just to the left of centre past a demoralised Higgs.
Artell should have added a fifth a minute from the end as Vaughan's cross found him five yards from goal only to send a header straight at Higgs.
That came from the middle of three successive corners as Stags finished strongly.
Cheltenham hopes of a stoppage time consolation disappeared as Finnigan blazed over the bar from 18 yards after good approach work by Brayson.
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