STAGS COME FROM BEHIND TO WIN FOR FIRST TIME
Darlington 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Austin 21. White sent off 45+1. Louis 56, Dawson 64
Att 3,527 (293 from Mansfield)
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audio highlights from Mansfield 103.2 commentary here
Quakers slip to home defeat
By Craig Stoddart
Ten-man Darlington slipped to their second home defeat of the season in controversial circumstances as they threw away a one-goal against lowly Mansfield Town.
Quakers led 1-0 through a Neil Austin goal and were coasting, but the match changed entirely in first half injury time when Alan White was sent off following an off the ball incident.
The defender was adjudged to have struck out at Mansfield's Jefferson Louis and after the break the Stags were the better team, scoring two goals and it could have been more as the visitors exploited their one-man advantage.
The defeat, Darlington's first this season having taken the lead, means remain four points off the top as leaders MK Dons' game was postponed, but Dave Penney's side drop to third as Hereford leap-frogged them by beating Chesterfield.
Quakers had started brightly without creating chances, but Mansfield then had two of their own when they were on top with Louis involved in both.
His shot from angle after 11 minutes was pushed out by keeper David Stockdale into the path of Michael Boulding six yards out and only a superb sliding from Steve Foster stopped the Stags from taking the lead.
Five minutes later, with Darlington still under pressure, Mansfield were presented with an even better chance, and this time Louis really should have scored. He made a poor connection in a central position ten yards out after John Mullins had headed the ball into his path from a free-kick.
The Mansfield forward should have buried the effort but instead scuffed his chance and as a result will have been kicking himself when Quakers took the lead in the 22nd minute.
A period of three successive Darlington corners, the last one taken by Bryan Hodge, led to Austin sliding in to reach the ball and score from close-range at the back post.
The right-back's second goal for the club was a scrappy effort but that did not matter to Darlington as the goal stunned the Stags and put an end to the visitors' continued possession.
With the pitch cutting up and making it difficult for both sides, the remainder of the half was a tame affair with neither team creating any further clear chances and, aside from an off-target Boulding header, Darlington appeared untroubled.
Boulding had stole in ahead of White at the near post to meet a left-wing cross, but White was involved in a more crucial incident when Louis went down clutching his face following an off the ball incident on the stroke of half-time.
As with most inside the Arena, referee Neil Swarbrick missed the incident but one of his linesman called him over and advised the whistle-blower what action to take, meaning White saw red for the second time this season.
He has already served a four-match ban and can expect a similar suspension which will start with Tuesday's game at home to Chester City.
Dave Penney reacted to the red card by sending on Ian Miller in place of Rob Purdie and switched to a 4-2-3 formation with the attack led by Tommy Wright.
But Wright's physical threat was nullified by the fact he had already been booked in the first half, his tenth of the season, which means he is to miss two games starting next week at Bury.
Mansfield created two good chances at the start of the second half before finally equalising and, almost inevitably, it was Louis who scored.
He beat Miller to Matthew Hamshaw's right-wing cross to head in off the post, and greeted the goal by running over towards the dug-outs and gesturing towards the home fans.
Those actions, coupled with his role in White's red card meant he became a target of the home supporter's vitriol but he responded by playing a role in Mansfield's second goal.
In the 65th minute, nine minutes after the leveller, Louis headed the ball into Stephen Dawson's path and the midfielder dribbled into Quakers' penalty area before drilling past Stockdale.
There was no shortage of Darlington work-rate but they lacked quality in the final third while the Stags made good use of their extra man and only a tremendous Stockdale save prevented a third Mansfield goal.
He reacted quickly to push away Boulding's close-range header which meant it stayed at 2-1 and although there was plenty of endeavour from Darlington they did little to threaten Stags keeper Carl Muggleton who was underemployed for much of the second half.
Neil Wainwright made a rare appearance from the subs bench as Quakers threw men forward, but it was the visitors who created the chances and with four minutes to go another Stockdale made another good save, this time to deny Will Atkinson from close-range.
Referee: N Swarbrick (Preston)
Darlington (4-4-2): Stockdale; Austin, White, Foster, Valentine; Joachim, Hodge (Wainwright 72), Ravenhill, Purdie (Miller 45); Blundell (Cummins 63), Wright. Subs (not used): Kazimierczak, Gall
Mansfield Town (4-4-2): Muggleton; Briggs (Wood 85), Buxton, Mullins, Jelleyman; Hamshaw, Dawson, Bell (D'Laryea 45, Brown 90)), Atkinson; M Boulding, Louis. Subs (not used): White, Holmes
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