IT`S CONLON & GRITTON AGAIN AS STAGS BEAT LEADERS
Mansfield 2-1 Walsall
Conlon 14, Gritton 57. Roper 9.
Att: 3737 (985 from Walsall)
Barry Conlon and Martin Gritton scored on their home debuts as strugglers Mansfield defied their lowly league position to beat leaders Walsall.
And the hosts had to come from behind after Daniel Fox's corner caused havoc in the box and Ian Roper tapped in.
Clayton Ince preserved that lead with a fine stop from Conlon, but the striker had his revenge when he thumped Stephen Dawson's cross high into the net.
Gritton then poked in the winner after Ince spilled his save from Simon Brown.
Stags stun leaders as strike duo score again
MANSFIELD TOWN 2 WALSALL 1
MAGNIFICENT Mansfield Town dug in deep to turn the form book on its head and beat League Two leaders Walsall at Field Mill this afternoon.
Home debutants Barry Conlon and Martin Gritton both again found the net to pull this game round after Stags had gone behind to a scruffy ninth minute Ian Roper goal.
But it still took a stoppage time save from Jason White and goal line clearance from Jake Buxton to seal the points as Stags fans held their brreath.
Mansfield had lost three of their last four home games while Walsall arrived with a six game unbeaten run, only conceding twice in four games and having won their last two games 2-0.
But Stags have already beaten Swindon and MK Dons at the Mill and Walsall went the same way.
Stags made just one change to the side beaten at Accrington with Brown coming in for midfielder coke, who was stretchered off at the Fraser Eagle Stadium with a knee ligament injury.
On an afternoon when Stags unveiled James Derry as their new chairman, the game began with immediate chants of 'Haslam out'.
Stags got the first shot in but Gritton's third minute effort on the turn was tame and wide.
But the Saddlers grabbed an opportunist ninth minute lead.
Fox sent over the afternoon's first corner which Butler got a head onto. The ball dropped in the six yard box and Roper reacted quickest to drill home from close range.
Conlon should have equalised four minutes later. Brown won a tackle on the right and lofted the perfect through ball over the top for Conlon to chase onto. But keeper Ince foiled him with his legs as he tried a low finish.
However, Conlon made amends within 60 seconds as Stags broke down the left. Dawson saw his run and sent the ball in hard and low for Conlon to direct it high into the net first time from seven yards - his third goal in as many games for Mansfield.
A 20th minute scramble in the visitors' box ended with Hamshaw lashing the loose ball over the bar from a tight angle.
John-Baptiste required lengthy treatment after coming out the worst from a challenge with Walsall's imposing keeper Ince.
Three Stags players were just unable to reach a superb Hamshaw free kick which Ince touched away for a corner. Hamshaw sent that over and Conlon sent a powerful shot inches wide.
Then Brown forced Ince into a save from a Gritton flick as Stags clearly had the leaders on the run.
By the 36th minute John-Baptiste had limped off from his earlier knock to be replaced by Hjelde.
There was a huge off-field distraction at this point as all attention focused on photographer Dan Westwell on the touchline where police and stewards surrounded him and escorted him out the ground to huge boos.
Mullins was booked for bringing down Fox on 43 minutes.
A minute from the break Conlon connected cleanly on the volley with Brown's cross but the ball fizzed wide of the far post.
Walsall forced two stoppage time corners which Stags defended comfortably to go in all square at half time.
Sam replaced Cederqvist up front for Walsall for the second half.
Stags were forced into another defensive change as Lloyd replaced Mullins on 53 minutes.
But just as Walsall were starting to dictate matters it was Mansfield who sent back in front on 58 minutes.
Brown chipped the ball towards goal where Gritton jumped with Ince. It seemed the keeper had made the catch but Gritton's jump was just enough to make him spill the ball and Gritton was left with a simple close range tap in.
Walsall responded by sending on the dangerous Keates for Wright.
Dann was yellow-carded for halting Dawson just outside the box and Conlon stepped up to blaze a free kick well over the top.
Conlon was then a couple of inches away from getting a head onto another dangerous Hamshaw free kick.
Brown's foul on Fox earned him a booking. Then White was safely behind a deflected 35 yard Keates free kick.
Gritton almost sneaked a third goal on 74 minutes as he beat Ince to a long ball, He was flattened by the keeper's challenge but got the vital nick past him only to see it drop inches wide for his pains.
With nine minutes left Walsall sent on Bedeau for Fox.
Pead sent a hurried volley wide five minutes from time as the visitors grew in desperation.
Boulding then took over from Hamshaw for the home side.
Conlon was just too high with a clever chip from a Boulding cross as it seemed Stags were home and dry.
But there was late drama as Keates got in a low shot in stoppage time which White could only Parry and Buxton cleared off the line for a heart-stopping finish.
report from Walsall official site:
THE SADDLERS have slipped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at a wind-swept Mansfield Town.
The home side won a free-kick in a dangerous position in the fifth minute following a foul by Kris Taylor and after the initial ball into the box had been cleared, a high hanging ball back into the danger zone saw Clayton Ince impeded as he came to claim.
Walsall got their noses in front with our first real effort at goal on eight minutes when a corner was curled to the far post and headed back across the face of goal into the path of Ian Roper who managed to find the net from close range.
There was a smart block by Ince shortly afterwards as Taylor lost possession and a ball over the top picked out Barry Conlon who closed in on goal, however Ince was alert to the danger.
Within a minute he was beaten as The Saddlers were once more caught napping at the back and an inviting ball in from the left was swept home by the in-form Conlon who made it three goals in as many games for his new club.
Matthew Hamshaw fired a shot wide of the target after Walsall only half-cleared another raid by the home side. Then Hamshaw saw a free-kick cause problems six minutes later as Ince scrambled across his goal to clear for a corner.
The resulting flag-kick found its way onto tthe head of Conlon whose powerful effort flew narrowly over the crossbar.
On a blustery afternoon, Richard Money's men were struggling to get their game together against a battling Mansfield Town side under the guidance of returning boss, Billy Dearden.
Some poor defending just before half-time saw Simon Brown's cross pick out Conlon in space at the far post but he volleyed wide.
In injury time at the end of the half, an ambitious effort from Daniel Fox was off target as a corner came out to him as the sides went in level at the break.
There was a change during the interval when Par Cederqvist, who was making his first start for the club, was replaced by Hector Sam and he soon got into the action as he twisted and turned near the by-line just inside the area before crossing into the danger zone where Roper's weak header was easy for Jason White in The Stags' goal to gather.
The home side took the lead when Taylor's poor clearance fell to Brown who delivered a high ball into the area which appeared to hold up in the wind and this allowed Martin Gritton, on loan from Lincoln City until the end of the season, to beat Ince to the ball and see his header make it over the line.
Dean Keates replaced Mark Wright just past the hour before there was a booking for Scott Dann for a foul on Stephen Dawson as the home side launched a positive move.
Another ball over the top set Gritton away on 72 minutes and as Ince hesitated, the striker was able to lift the ball over his head but thankfully it landed inches wide as Roper raced back to cover.
At the other end, Sam linked up well with Martin Butler but he was crowded out as he thought about shooting.
There was another change for The Saddlers as Tony Bedeau replaced Fox before a foul on Butler presented Keates with a free-kick in a good position. However his delivery was easy for the home defence to clear.
It looked as if there was no way back into the game for us until the 91st minute when Sam looked lively and rounded the 'keeper before managing to pull the ball back into the path of Keates whose shot wasn't hit as true as he would have liked but was blocked on the line by a defender as the ball cannoned back off the 'keeper and, luckily for The Stags, out for a corner.
It was a glorious chance, but in the end we went home pointless.
Latest | January 2007