STAGS STUNNED BY SECOND HALF BLITZ
Wrexham 4 - 1 Mansfield Town
D Williams 49, McEvilly 53, Walters 61, Mark Jones 87.
Barker pen 41.
Attendance: 3421 (140 from Mansfield)
A four-goal second-half blitz moved Wrexham into the play-off positions.
Mansfield were one up at the break, Richard Barker converting a penalty after he was fouled by Danny Williams.
Williams levelled with a strong header from Matt Crowell's corner, then Lee McEvilly combined superbly with Jon Walters to score a great left-footer.
Walters latched onto a Darren Ferguson ball to make it 3-1, and the striker fed Mark Jones who rounded things off with a cheeky chip over Kevin Pressman.
12 minutes of madness
A 12-minute defensive horror show early in the second half cost Stags dearly at high-flying Wrexham last night as the Mansfield Town crashed 4-1.
Mansfield matched the Welshmen for much of the 90 minutes and had plenty of chances of their own against the best home record in the division.
Stags even had the temerity to lead at the break through Richie Barker's 41st minute penalty, though Wrexham appeared to have an equally good spot kick shout turned down.
But the Dragons roared back in style with three goals in 12 minutes as the visitors were opened up with embarrassing ease.
Stags rolled their sleeves up and dominated much of the rest of the game, but were unable to break through and eventually conceded a late fourth on the counter to give the final score a lop-sided look the visitors perhaps didn't deserve.
Now Saturday's 'six-pointer' at Rushden and Diamonds takes on increased importance.
Stags had made four changes. Hjelde (illness) missed out altogether, while the injured Buxton (knee) was among the substitutes, along with dropped pair Russell and Rundle.
Peers and Day came into a three-man defence as Stags went 3-5-2 to combat Wrexham's use of the formation. D'Laryea returned as the holding midfielder with Uhlenbeek, back after a three-game ban, on the right of the midfield five and Jelleyman on the left. Birchall was pushed up front alongside Barker.
Wrexham began with real purpose and Stags had to defend a free kick and a corner in the first three minutes. But it was from a Stags' short corner on four minutes that the visitors almost went ahead.
The ball was worked to D'Laryea whose low shot was well saved by Ingham. He couldn't hold onto it, but managed to smother Birchall's attempted follow-up and, as the ball ricocheted up, recovered again to turn Barker's header around his near post.
The Stags had a real let-off on 16 minutes. Walters beat Day to a forward ball and headed on for McEvilly, who had got goalside of Peers.
The Mansfield defender tried to hinder his progress and brought him down, apparently without getting anything of the ball, nine yards from goal. However, the referee refused to give a penalty to the horror of the home players and fans.
There was another moment of real concern on 26 minutes as Dawson left Ferguson unmarked 12 yards from goal and, when McEvilly pulled the ball back to him, his shot deflected wide off John-Baptiste with the goal at his mercy.
But the under-pressure Stags took a surprise lead on 41 minutes from the penalty spot. Uhlenbeek's throw saw Barker get goalside of Williams, who brought him down by holding him back. The referee blew just as Dawson hit the loose ball into the net, but Barker was again coolness personified as he rolled the spot kick to the right of Ingham who dived the other way.
And the Stags could have made it 2-0 with a lightning break before half-time. Coke's through ball saw Barker slip away down the left. However, with Birchall in acres of space to his right, he over-hit the pass to his strike partner and the ball ran harmlessly out of play.
Stags threw that lead away within four minutes of the restart as Williams made amends for conceding the penalty by netting the equaliser. Ferguson floated in a corner from the right and Williams was gifted a free header, which he planted with some venom inside Pressman's right hand post.
The home side now had their tails up and four minutes later they were ahead as McEvilly was allowed room to drill home a sweet low shot from the edge of the area.
Day almost levelled immediately, but Ingham stretched to his left to clutch Day's header from Jelleyman's free kick.
The excitement continued as Ingham raced out his box to beat Dawson to Barker's through ball.
At this point Shirtliff changed things around as he replaced Dawson with Buxton, who went into defence, and John-Baptiste was pushed into midfield. And he almost immediately carved out an equaliser as he slipped a pass through to Barker to the right of the six yard box, but the striker blazed his finish over.
Disaster struck again for Stags with more lax defending on 61 minutes. A harmless through ball from just inside the Mansfield half was allowed to run past several Stags players and reached Walters, who finished confidently.
Russell was sent on for Peers for the last 15 minutes and only a superb last ditch tackle by Lawrence stopped him getting a shot away as he broke into the box.
Stags came desperately close again as a free kick from the right saw Buxton head across goal and Barker could only find the sidenetting at the far post.
Three minutes from time the under-pressure home side countered with a fourth goal as Jones chipped Pressman with a precise finish.
It might have been our lowest league crowd of the season, but they witnessed our biggest win so far as Denis Smith's half time team talk did the trick.
There was an early scare for the Reds when a long range shot was Jonathon D'Laryea was spotted late by Michael Ingham who blocked the effort and followed that up by beating Richard Barker to the rebound, but Gus Uhlenbeek was quickly onto the loose ball and the Irishman had to scramble across and punch behind for a corner.
This was followed up by a low effort from Stephen Dawson that the keeper once again did well to grab at the first attempt.
It was 13 minutes before the home side summoned up their first attack of the night, with Lee McEvilly cutting in from the right and crossing into the six-yard area, where centre half Alex John-Baptiste was forced to head over his own crossbar and concede the corner.
For the second game running the Reds were denied a penalty when on 16 minutes defender Gavin Peers appeared to wrestle McEvilly to the ground, but as at Boston, the referee had a clear view of the incident and waved play on!
A Ferguson free kick was headed across the box by Lawrence to McEvilly, who rose high and forced Kevin Pressman to fumble the ball around his left hand post for another flag kick.
Another Wrexham attack on 25 minutes saw a high ball headed back into the goalmouth by McEvilly and Ferguson thought he has scored when sweeping the ball in target from 8-yards out, but up popped Welshman Rhys Day to clear off his line.
Dave Bayliss was next try his luck with a rising drive that Pressman took above his head.
Mansfield early period of possession was quickly evaporating as Wrexham started to take control of the match in the second quarter and Jon Walters was only inches away from connecting with a Bayliss cross, but Peers did enough to just hold him off the ball at the vital moment.
There was to be a penalty in the game and it went to Mansfield on 39 minutes, when Danny Williams pulled at the arm of striker Barker. It was an easy decision for the referee and Ritchie Barker sent Ingham the wrong way from 12-yards.
The response from Wrexham was to set up Mark Jones for a 20-yarder that only cleared the target by a few feet.
A slip by Williams allowed Barker a free run down the left and with only Lawrence covering back against D'Laryea and Birchall, the forward's cross was wayward and drifted out of play.
Within four minutes of the restart, Danny Williams went from villain to hero, as he met Matt Crowell's right wing corner and from 15-yards he directed his header inside the back post for a timely equaliser.
The Racecourse's smallest league crowd of the season rose to acclaim the defender's goal, which Williams
Then four minutes later the Reds forced their way in front. Roche's high ball to the edge of the box was laid off square by Walters for his strike partner Lee McEvilly to hammer a low shot from 19-yards under the diving Pressman.
The old cliché about at being your weakest when just scoring almost proved true as Ingham pulled off a great from Barker's header, then he raced from his box to beat Dawson to long ball over the top and finally watched on as Barker blazed over from the angle when well placed to test the Irish stopper.
The Wrexham bandwagon rolled on after just 61 minutes, as the Reds grabbed their third goal inside 12 minutes, with Ferguson feeding Jon Walters down the left channel and as the ex-Hull forward took the ball in his stride he fired the ball across Pressman and inside the far post.
To their credit, the Stags refused to accept defeat and forced more than a few desperate moments in the Wrexham defence, but Williams was having a great game at the back and stood firm to repulse the visitors.
Stags manager Peter Shirtliff threw caution to the wind as the game wore on, with three substitutions bringing on additional firepower in hope of salvaging something at the death
Another slip by Williams on the halfway line allowed sub Alan Russell to race 40-yards up field but Lawrence sprinted across to make the block.
Then from a Mansfield free kick Rhys Day headed across the Wrexham goalmouth, but Ingham palmed it away although straight to the feet of Baker, who put it into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.
The scoring was completed on 86 minutes, thanks to a lovely chip by Mark Jones, who was set on his way by Walters and lifted the ball over the advancing Pressman from 15-yards.
Wrexham: Michael Ingham, Dave Bayliss, Danny Williams, Dennis Lawrence, Lee Roche, Alex Smith, Darren Ferguson, Matt Crowell, Mark Jones (Paul Warhurst 87), Jon Walters, Lee McEvilly (Dean Bennett 84).
Subs: Michael Jones, Mike Williams, Simon Spender.
Mansfield Town: Kevin Pressman, Gavin Peers (Alan Russell 75), Alex John-Baptise, Rhys Day, Gareth Jellyman, Gus Uhlenbeek, Giles Coke, Stephen Dawson (Jake Buxton 56), Jonathan D'Laryea, Adam Birchall (Simon Brown 63), Richard Barker.
Subs: Jason White, Adam Rundle.
Referee: A. Hall (Birmingham)
Wrexham 4, Mansfield Town 1
By Mark Currie At The Racecourse
North Wales Daily Post
A SEVENTH home win of the season last night reinforced Wrexham's solid form at the Racecourse and left visitors Mansfield Town deep in trouble in the lower reaches of the League Two table.
It wasn't the most fluent of performances by the Dragons, who were second-best for much of the opening period, but they came from behind to notch up their biggest win to date after converting virtually every chance that came their way.
The visitors, who had won four of their previous five matches, began brightly and may have been ahead after only four minutes when Jon D'Laryea forced goalkeeper Mike Ingham into a fine save, the keeper going down smartly to parry.
The ball ran free to Richie Barker, who seemed certain to head the Stags in front but Ingham was up quickly to push the ball onto a post and behind for a corner.
Two minutes later, the Northern Ireland international was called into action again - this time holding a fierce effort from Steve Dawson, following a speedy break by former Wales under-21 striker Adam Birchall.
It wasn't the start Wrexham boss Denis Smith had hoped for, but his side slowly fought themselves into the game and had a 16th-minute penalty appeal turned down when Lee McEvilly and Gavin Peers tangled as they battled to reach a Jon Walters flick-on.
Three minutes later, McEvilly forced a first save of the game from veteran Kevin Pressman with an angled header from Dennis Lawrence's assist and the burly striker then set up skipper Darren Ferguson, who met the ball sweetly but saw his first-time volley deflected for a corner off Alex John-Baptiste.
Jon Walters, whose movement was excellent, threatened to stretch the Mansfield defence in a chase to get on the end of a long ball from Dave Bayliss and he was only inches from connecting at the far post but Wrexham could not afford to be too adventurous with Birchall and Barker always ready to counter at speed.
Defender Rhys Day tested Ingham with a powerful header from a free kick, but it took a penalty to break the deadlock four minutes before the interval.
Barker got the wrong side of Danny Williams, whose shirt-tugging was spotted by referee Andy Hall and the Stags striker was confidence personified in converting the spot-kick.
But hometown boy Williams - only recently deployed as a central defender - made amends with a 49th-minute equaliser, arriving late in the penalty area to meet a Matt Crowell corner and beating Pressman with a header into the bottom corner of the net.
And the Dragons were in front four minutes later, McEvilly extending his recent goalscoring form with a crisp left-footer from 20 yards after being teed up by Walters.
The visitors, who had been content to waste as much time as possible after going ahead in the game, had to step up a gear again and sent on attacking midfielder Adam Rundle in place of Dawson and another set-piece saw Day once more first to the ball to bring another save from Ingham.
Mansfield's urgency provided a bit more space in their defence and Wrexham exploited it to the full after 61 minutes.
Ferguson took advantage of a gap to pick out Walters, who cut in quickly from the left to fire a cross-shot past Pressman and register his first goal in nearly two months.
But the Dragons still had some defending to do as their opponents rose to the challenge, John-Baptiste getting forward to sting Ingham's hands before Williams made a fine tackle on Barker when he raced onto Gareth Jellyman's low cross.
Barker squandered a great chance to test Wrexham's nerves with seven minutes to go when he was first to react after Ingham pushed away another Day header, but drove his close-range shot into the side-netting.
And Mark Jones wrapped it up for the home side in the 87th minute, lobbing the ball over a stranded Pressman whose defence had gone missing.
WREXHAM: Ingham; Bayliss, D Williams, Lawrence; Roche, Crowell, Ferguson, Mark Jones (Warhurst 88), Smith; McEvilly (Bennett 84), Walters. Subs: Michael Jones, Spender, M Williams. BOOKED: Smith, Warhurst.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Pressman; Peers (Russell 75), Day, John-Baptiste, Jellyman; Dawson (Buxton 56), Uhlenbeek, Coke, D'Laryea; Birchall (Brown 63), Barker. Subs: White, Rundle.
REF: Andy Hall (West Midlands)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Dave Bayliss was sound at the back and his delivery caused the Mansfield defence problems all night.
Nottingham Evening Post:
ERRORS COST STAGS DEAR
Wrexham 4 v 1 Mansfield Town
Poor defending let Mansfield down last night as a half-time lead slipped away - to leave them floundering in the relegation zone.
The Stags deserved to be in the lead at half-time after a penalty strike by Richie Barker.
Manager Peter Shirtliff had changed from his usual 4- 4-2 formation to play three at the back and five across the middle, and the Stags took advantage by dominating the midfield.
They won four corners in the first nine minutes and made several useful openings that should have been turned to goals.
But it all changed after the interval when Wrexham hit back with three goals in 11 minutes and Mansfield's confidence collapsed into a series of mistakes.
Jonathon D'Laryea unleashed an early long shot that home keeper Michael Ingham spotted late and beat Barker to the rebound. But Gus Uhlenbeek pounced on the loose ball and the Wrexham keeper had to scramble across and punch away for a corner.
Stephen Dawson followed with a low shot that brought another save by the keeper, who moved quickly to collect.
When Wrexham launched their first raid, with Lee McEvilly cutting in from the right and crossing into the six-yard box, Alex John-Baptiste saved the situation at the expense of a corner, heading away dangerously over his own bar.
On 16 minutes Mansfield were fortunate not to give away a penalty when Gavin Peers challenged McEvilly inside the area, but the referee waved play on, much to the relief of the 140 visiting supporters at the bitterly cold Racecourse Ground.
Play switched to the other end where McEvilly's downward header was turned around the post by Pressman.
Another raid ended with Darren Ferguson stabbing a close range shot that seemed destined for the back of the net until Rhys Day cleared off the line.
Mansfield's early dominance faded as Wrexham began to get a grip on the game and it took a good challenge by Peers to prevent Walters adding the final touch to a cross at the back post.
There was no doubt over the penalty that put the Stags ahead. Danny Williams yanked Barker's arm to stop the striker going through and Barker sent Ingham the wrong way from the spot.
Barker was in again shortly afterwards when Danny Williams slipped and let him through on the left, but the Mansfield striker missed his chance, sending his cross behind D'Laryea and Birchall in the box.
It all went sour for the Stags when Wrexham hit a purple patch straight after the re-start. Danny Williams headed inside the back post from a right-wing corner and a second goal quickly followed, McEvilly hitting a fierce low shot under Pressman's despairing dive.
The Stags responded with two close attempts on goal, Barker bringing a good save from the Ingham and then blazing over when he should have hit the target.
Walters added the third just after the hour and Mark Jones wrapped it up with a delightful chip over the keeper.
Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff gambled as the game slipped away and used all three sub substitutes, going with three strikers in his bid to save the day. It nearly earned a reward but Stags couldn't turn openings into goals.
Wrexham went close to conceding a second penalty when Williams body-checked Simon Brown after the Stags substitute had skipped past three tackles, but the referee gave the home side the benefit of the doubt.
Barker hit the side netting when he might have pulled a goal back and, in the final minute, he met a free-kick from Uhlenbeek and headed against the crossbar.
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