SUPER STAGS GET HOME WIN AT LAST
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Wrexham
Louis pen 50, Mullins 54. Marc Williams 77.
Att 3435 (601 from Wrexham)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
An inspired spell of 30 minutes at the start of the second half was enough to earn Mansfield a win over fellow strugglers Wrexham on Tuesday night. It brought the Stags the first win at home since Boxing Day. The Stags were gifted a cheap, but clear penalty on 50 minutes and Jefferson Louis insisted on taking the kick despite Michael Boulding wanting to take it. Louis sent the keeper the wrong way to lift the roof off Field Mill, and just 4 minutes later great interplay between Hamshaw and Mullins ended with Mullins slipping a shot under the keeper from close range to make it 2-0. Buxton twice went close to extending the lead with headers from Hamshaw corners and there were other chances too as Wrexham looked demoralised. But there was a goal out of the blue on 77 minutes for the Welshmen as Nicholson's shot was only parried by Muggleton to Marc Williams who reacted quickest to fire into an empty net. A nervy last 15 minutes followed but the Stags held on as a poor Wrexham side failed to create any chances.
Report from From The Times
Wrexham move another step nearer trapdoor
Wrexham's 87-year stay in the Football League appears to be all but over after Brian Little's side lost 2-1 to Mansfield Town, their fellow strugglers, last night. Little had admitted before kick-off that the losers were likely to go down. Wrexham are bottom, eight points from safety with seven games remaining, but Mansfield have renewed hope. They remain 23rd and have played a game more than Wrexham, but are only four points adrift of the team above them — their local rivals, Notts County, with whom they drew 0-0 last Saturday.
Jefferson Louis is familiar with non-League football, having spent much of the past eight years in the Conference. He improved his chances of avoiding a return there by opening the scoring with a 51st-minute penalty. The lead was doubled three minutes later by John Mullins. Marc Williams's goal 12 minutes from the end was not enough to prevent Mansfield from claiming a first home win since Boxing Day.
Mansfield 2-1 Wrexham
Mansfield boosted their survival hopes by beating bottom side Wrexham in a crucial League Two basement clash.
Jefferson Louis put the Stags ahead from the spot after a Gareth Evans handball and John Mullins linked up with Matt Hamshaw to make it 2-0.
Hamshaw and Mickey Boulding went close again but Marc Williams replied for Wrexham after Carl Muggleton had parried Stuart Nicholson's shot.
That set up a tense finale but the Stags held on for a vital victory.
Mansfield 2 Wrexham 1
by Mark Currie, Daily Post (Wales)
THE writing is on the wall for Wrexham after they lost out last night in the League Two basement battle that had been billed by their manager Brian Little as a decider for one of the two relegation spots.
Even though the Dragons's plight – eight points from safety – remains unchanged following Mansfield's 2-1 win at Field Mill, they now have just seven games in which to plot an improbable route to safety.
There was little to choose between the sides in a cagey, often nervous opening period, although the visitors probably had the better chances.
It was a slightly controversial penalty shortly after the restart that gave Mansfield the breakthrough they craved, but Wrexham could have no complaints about the decisive goal from defender John Mullins just four minutes later.
And although substitute Marc Williams pulled one back 12 minutes from time, his goal never looked likely to be anything more than a consolation effort.
No-one could accuse Dragons' boss Brian Little of undue caution as he named a 4-4-2 line-up showing three changes from the side that lost 3-2 at Barnet on Saturday.
Out went defender Richard Hope, midfielder Matty Done and the club's leading goalscorer, Michael Proctor, with Neil Roberts starting at the heart of the team despite knocking himself unconscious in training on Monday.
Mike Williams, who replaced Hope at Underhill, kept his place at the back and Stuart Nicholson was recalled up front alongside Paul Hall and Drewe Broughton in a team designed to take the game to a Stags side that had previously won just four home matches – one fewer than Little's men.
Mansfield, who drew 0-0 at neighbours Notts County at the weekend to edge ahead of Wrexham by a point, were unchanged, although former Racecourse winger Neil Wainwright, a substitute at Meadow Lane, was not included in manager Paul Holland's 16.
Immediately prior to the entrance of the teams, the Field Mill public address system blasted out the theme music from a staple of the Christmas movie menu, The Great Escape.
But nobody in the ground – least of all the 600 Wrexham fans packed in behind one goal – needed a reminder of what was at stake.
The home side showed first when Matty Hamshaw's cross was met by Michael Boulding, but the striker's header flew straight into the arms of goalkeeper Gavin Ward.
But the Dragons settled into the pace of the game better with Broughton, as ever, proving a willing workhorse and Sam Aiston making some strong runs from wide left.
In front of the home goal, though, it was a similar story for Wrexham as chances were made and not taken.
Broughton thumped one effort just wide from 20 yards and then forced a fine save from Carl Muggleton before Phil Bolland headed Hall's corner across the face of the visitors' goal.
But the Dragons were unable to sustain the momentum and there was little margin for error at the back against the pace of Boulding and Hamshaw and the raw strength of Jefferson Louis.
Gareth Evans flung himself bravely forward to block a Hamshaw drive and a swerving shot from Stephen Dawson had Ward scrambling anxiously before the ball curled wide.
But there were equally hopeful efforts at the other end from Chris Llewellyn and Hall as the stalemate showed little sign of being broken.
That changed almost from the opening of the second half when the home side stole a march on their opponents with a high-octane restart that brought them two goals in the space of three minutes.
The Dragons survived one wickedly swinging Hamshaw corner, but when Bolland was forced to concede another, the winger's kick was not cleared and as Evans was seemingly wrestled to the ground, the young defender's arm clearly knocked the ball away.
Referee Nigel Miller had no hestitation in awarding the penalty and, despite Wrexham protests that lasted nearly two minutes, Louis confidently sent Ward the wrong way.
And worse was to follow for the Dragons when Mansfield quickly doubled their advantage. Hamshaw was again involved, his smart reverse pass releasing John Mullins to run on and fire a low shot into the corner of the net.
Exhibiting a new-found confidence, the home side looked as though they might overwhelm Little's shell-shocked troops, but Ward made a couple of excellent stops to steady the ship for Wrexham.
Changes from the bench saw Roberts make way for Danny Williams – his first outing since October – and Proctor replace Hall, but in truth it was little more than a gesture from the Dragons' boss, because there appeared to be little prospect of a recovery.
But Marc Williams was on the pitch for only seven minutes in place of Broughton before he raised the visiting fans' hopes by poking home the rebound after Muggleton had parried a Nicholson shot.
There was to be no fairytale finish, though, and it was the home side who looked more likely to score again as the minutes ticked away.
MANSFIELD ended a 10-game run of home matches without a league win by mounting a second half offensive against Wrexham that saw them score twice in three minutes and in doing so make the Welshmen's chances of staying up even less likely.
It was heartbreaking period after the break as first a penalty by Jefferson Louis and then a low shot from John Mullins put them in command.
Substitute Marc William gave us some hope when finishing from close range, but in the end it was not enough.
Stuart Nicholson was given he nod up front instead of Michael Proctor, with Neil Roberts back in midfield and Mike Williams returning at left back. Danny Williams made a welcome return on the bench as the boss opted for five outfielder substitutes.
Mansfield enjoyed the first chance of the game when a cross found Michael Boulding in front of goal, but his header from six-yards was held under his cross bar by Gavin Ward.
With seven minutes on the clock, Drewe Broughton had room on the edge of the home penalty area to let fire a rasping shot that was always wide, although not too far off target.
Gareth Evans then picked up the ball in defence fed it forward to Paul Hall, who picked out Broughton down the left hand channel, allowing the big striker to take it in his stride and force a flying save from Stags' keeper Carl Muggleton
From a follow up corner Neil Roberts rose high on the edge of the six yard box to plant a header which was only just wide of the near post.
On 20 minutes, a good ball to the Mansfield left allowed John Mullins to turn inside Simon Spender, before hitting a low shot that was scrambled away.
Then at the opposite end of the pitch, the Reds created a good build-up which ended with Hall firing a rising and curling effort that was a just a yard over the target.
A Wrexham free kick, 20-yards into the Mansfield half, saw Hall play a one-two with Spender to get round the back of a static defence, but his driven cross was cut out for a throw in.
With half an hour played, a Sam Aiston throw from the left was headed down by Broughton in the box and back to Chris Llewellyn, who from 18-yards fired wide of the keeper's left hand post, which Muggleton won't have got to had it been inside his woodwork.
A Hall corner on 34 minutes saw the wind drive the ball back under the Mansfield cross bar, which Muggleton was relieved to hold at the second attempt.
The Stags went to the other end of the pitch, where Jonathan D'Laryea beat Llewellyn and knocked onto Stephen Dawson, who from 20-yards flashed a shot which was only inches wide of Ward's right hand post.
There were screams for a penalty on 40 minutes, when Boulding went down in the box, but the referee was unimpressed and waved play on with Spender clearing the danger as the play switched from end-to-end.
After Llewellyn's 50-yard pass sent Spender away on the right in the seconds before the break, there was a mad scramble in the home box before Hall's shot was blocked by Broughton and the danger was cleared.
The second half began in hectic style was first there were shouts for a penalty, the home fans saying they spotted Spender's hand had touched the ball following a high free kick into the box, then at the other end Broughton headed down for Hall, but his shit was blocked.
Then four minutes after the restart, the referee ignored jumping on the Wrexham defence but did see Gareth Evans punching the ball away when on the ground and pointed to the spot.
After much debate, up stepped Jefferson Louis to send Ward the wrong way and the home supporters wild.
The Stags were lifted by the goal and soon afterwards Hamshaw crossed from the right, the ball being met by Boulding, but he fired into the seats.
On 55 minutes, the visitors' defence was breeched again as Boulding played in John Mullins who came round Mike Williams and fired a shot across Ward into the net.
A Mansfield free kick by Hamshaw saw the ball evade everyone in the Wrexham box, with Ward seemingly surprised it reached him. The same two players were involved two minutes later with a hanging effort that Ward caught high but almost rolled over his own line.
It was all one-way traffic with Mansfield using the wind to their advantage, Jake Buxton heading on target and then Boulding almost taking advantage of some hesitancy.
A double substitution on 65 minutes saw Michael Proctor and Danny Williams introduced for Neil Roberts and Paul Hall. This was Danny's first senior appearance since going off just before half time at Macclesfield in mid-October.
The final throw of the dice saw Marc Williams on for Broughton with 19 minutes left on the clock.
Buxton was once again given a free header from a set piece, although this time he put the ball straight into Ward's hands on the line.
On 78 minutes, Wrexham earned them a lifeline when Stuart Nicholson fired a low shot that Muggleton managed to palm away but only into the path of Marc Williams, who fired home from four yards.
The Dragons defence then survived a double scare when first Ward saved with one hand and then Spender blocked the follow up.
Despite four minutes added time, Mansfield managed to see out the remaining time and to the strains of 'The Great Escape' the Wrexham players trudged back to their dressing room.
Mansfield Town: Carl Muggleton, John Mullins, Jake Buxton, Alex Baptiste, Gareth Jelleyman, Matty Hamshaw (Keith Briggs 87), Jonathan D'Laryea, Stephen Dawson, Nathan Arnold, Michael Boulding (Kevin Horlock 90), Jefferson Louis (Rory Boulding 88).
Subs: Jason White, Simon Brown.
Wrexham: Gavin Ward, Simon Spender, Gareth Evans, Phil Bolland, Neil Roberts (Michael Proctor 65), Chris Llewellyn, Paul Hall (Danny Williams 65), Sam Aiston, Drewe Broughton (Marc Williams 71), Stuart Nicholson.
Subs: Richard Hope, Matty Done.
Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)
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