IMPRESSIVE STAGS BEATEN BY LEAGUE LEADERS
Blue Square Bet Premier
Fleetwood Town 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Beeley 50, Vardy 63.
Att: 3106 (480 from Mansfield)
Date: 24 March 2012
Martin Shaw at Highbury
Despite a creditable performance, Mansfield Town fell to a 2-0 defeat against champions-elect Fleetwood on Saturday afternoon. Mansfield paid the penalty for missing chances - 5 in the opening 15 minutes of the game - and another crucial one when Ross Dyer missed a glorious chance when the Stags were 1-0 down. But in the end, a Fleetwood goal on the break from full back Beeley when the Stags lost their shape following an Exodus Geohaghon long throw, and a clinical finish from Jamie Vardy, were enough for the home side to clock up another victory and continue a 25 game unbeaten run. A superb following of 480 from Mansfield appreciated the Stags performance, and backed the team throughout the game, and then gave the players a decent ovation at the end of the game. Losing to Fleetwood was no disgrace, and in my opinion, Mansfield would have beaten at least two-thirds of the teams in the Conference with today's display. It still looks like 80 points should be enough to secure a play-off spot so three wins will do it for the Stags from the final 6 games.
The Stags came into the game unbeaten in 8 games, and with 10 wins from the last 13 games. The 13 goals from the last two league games was the Stags highest aggregate from consecutive league games. Fleetwood came into the game unbeaten for 24 games.
Mansfield made one change from the side that beat Alfreton 6-3, with Gary Roberts returning in place of Louis Briscoe, in a 4-5-1 formation that became 4-3-3 when the Stags attacked. Fleetwood had Jamie Vardy on the bench, as he had been suffering from a chest infection during the week. Also on the bench for Fleetwood were Brodie and Viera - a total of 43 goals between those 3 players this season. Only Andy Mangan, of their magnificent strike foursome, started, and bizarrely he played a midfield role.
The game was played in 20 degree heat which felt more like 40 when the sun was straight into your face and you couldn't move in the press box.
Man of the match: Martin Riley
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Fleetwood 2 Mansfield Town 0, Saturday 24th March
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
Mansfield Town's eight-game unbeaten run was halted in defeat in the big top versus third showdown at leaders Fleetwood Town this afternoon.
In boiling temperatures at Highbury Stadium and backed by a magnificent, noisy away following, Stags gave as good as they got in a tight first half with Mansfield controlling the first 20 minutes before keeper Alan Marriott had to produce two fine saves to keep out the hosts as they finally woke up.
But the classy Cod Army broke through with a goal from full back Shaun Beeley five minutes into the second half.
And when Jamie Vardy bagged his 28th goal of the season just two minutes after being introduced as a 61st minute sub, it left Stags with a mountain too steep to climb against a side that has now gone 25 league matches without defeat.
And, with Wrexham beaten by Forest Green, it was a massive result in the Cod army's challenge for the title.
The afternoon began with e minute's applause for the late Fleetwood junior coach Rob Wilkinson, who has died aged only 19.
The huge Stags following made it sound like a home game with all the noise coming from behind Marriott's goal at kick-off.
An untidy first seven minutes saw Stags create the first half-chance as Dyer headed on a long Marriott clearance and Green ran onto it before firing a powerful shot at goal from a difficult angle that Davies parried and was lucky the incoming Meikle could not get a decent contact on it as it bounced badly for him.
Then Roberts picked out Dyer for a far post header into the centre which was cleared to O'Neill who, with a shooting chance begging, fired into the sidenetting.
Stags won a corner on the right which was cleared out to Murray whose rasping 35-yarder took Davies by surprise and he clumsily parried it up and over.
Roberts was lectured by the referee after bringing down Seddon in full flight, but no card was produced to the disgust of the home fans.
Mansfield continued to make the running and Howell had a shot blocked just inside the home box.
On 15 minutes Green almost made the breakthrough. Howell nodded a down a far post O'Neil cross for Green six yards out who just couldn't get over his stretched finish as the ball spooned up and over the bar.
On 19 minutes the Cod Army carved out their first chance as Cavanagh floated the ball high into the box and McGuire rose highest to send a looping header over Marriott but also over the bar.
He probably should have done better and, after all Stags' pressure, it served as a warning of the home side's abilities.
All of a sudden Fleetwood had their tails up and Marriott came up with a stunning save to preserve the parity on 22 minutes.
Goodall sent in a corner which Pond met hard and true with a header that Marriott just managed to turn up and against the bar.
Three more corners quickly followed and, from the second of those, the ball came back to Goodall, who swapped passes with Seddon to burst into the box but, faced with just the keeper to beat, Marriott again did the business as he spread himself well to block.
Ther home side enjoyed a spell of keep-ball, but Mansfield stood their ground in the sweltering sunshine and the possession ended with an offside flag.
On 32 minutes Fowler's brilliant cutting pass down the left put Goodall into space. He then whipped in a low cross in front of goal which McGuire just failed to reach as he slid in trying to turn it home.
Having survived Fleetwood's onslaught well, Stags began to enjoy some possession of their own to the cheers of the travelling fans.
Both sides made half-hearted appeals for penalties just before the break. But Stags went in all square at half-time, and deservedly so.
Fleetwood almost made an explosive start to the second half as Mangan played a one-two with Till to get into the right of the box but blazed into the sidenetting.
In response Roberts tried to get Dyer away on the right of the box, but his low attempt lacked direction and passed across the box to stay in play.
Stags won a throw near the right corner flag for Geohaghon to send in a long throw on 50 minutes.
But, when that was cleared, Fleetwood broke quickly to steal the lead.
Goodall carried the ball down the left before flicking a fantastic ball inside to free Cavanagh.
Beeley ran on well outside him and the through ball was perfect to cue him up for a finish slotted between Marriott's legs.
McGuire was screaming for a penalty three minutes later, but Geohaghon had clearly won the ball to concede a corner which Seddon, from a tight angle, headed inches over the bar.
On 56 minutes Dyer almost levelled from a Meikle through ball, but he blasted into the sidenetting when he should have hit the target.
Another good run from full back Beeley saw him set up McGuire for a first time curling effort over the angle from 20 yards.
As if to underline their superior firepower, Fleetwood made a big statement on 61 minutes when they brought on goal aces Vardy and Brodie for Till and Seddon.
Stags' response was to introduce Briscoe for Meikle as they stuck with the 4-3-3 line-up.
But the deadly Vardy quickly showed his goalscoring prowess as he found the net within two minutes.
The ball initially broke kindly for Goodall on the left, but his low curling cross away from goal was perfection and Vardy popped up to expertly turn home from close range for number 28 of the season.
Briscoe was high and wild with his first shot just before Rhead replaced Murray as Stags finally went 4-4-2.
Geohaghon did well to stick with the pacy Vardy and rob him to the right of the box.
Andrew was given a run at left back in place of Sutton for the last 17 minutes.
Andrew quickly saw the game's first yellow card for his late, sliding challenge on Beeley.
On 83 minutes Stags worked keeper Davies as Rhead nodded an O'Neill corner back into the middle where Geohaghon's header was on target but a comfy take for Davies.
Then Rhead had a volleyed effort deflect wide for a late corner.
But there was to be no consolation for Mansfield to at least give their superb following something to cheer by the seaside
FLEETWOOD: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Pond, Till (Vardy 61), Goodall, Mangan, McGuire, Seddon (Brodie 61), Cavanagh, Fowler. Subs not used: Vieira, Charnock Stevenson.
STAGS: Marriott; O'Neill, Geohaghon, Riley, Sutton (Andrew 73); Howell, Roberts, Murray (Rhead 70); Dyer, Green, Meikle (Briscoe 62). Subs not used: Redmond, Worthington.
REFEREE: Scott Duncan of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
ATTENDANCE: 3,106 (480).
CAUTION: Stags – Andrew 78mins (foul).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Martin Riley
Full-time: Fleetwood Town 2 Mansfield Town 0
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
MANSFIELD Town suffered their first defeat in nine matches at Fleetwood Town this afternoon as the Cod Army maintained their imperious march towards the Blue Square Bet Premier title.
Second half goals from Shaun Beeley and substitute Jamie Vardy enabled the hosts to stretch their unbeaten run to an amazing 25 matches at a sun-drenched Highbury.
The Stags acquitted themselves well in the first period and deserved to go in level at the break.
But the key moments came early in the second half as Beeley put the Cod Army in front before Ross Dyer missed a golden chance to equalise soon after.
And as Vardy added a crucial second, Mansfield were unable to produce the necessary response to prevent only a second league defeat for Mansfield since Christmas.
Mansfield made just one change, with Gary Roberts brought into a 4-3-3 formation at the expense of Louis Briscoe, who dropped to the bench.
Fleetwood, meanwhile, left highly-rated strikers Richard Brodie and Vardy on the bench.
After a scrappy opening, Mansfield had the first serious attempt on goal when Marriott's long ball forward was flicked on by Dyer for Matt Green.
His first time shot from the tightest of angles was palmed away by Scott Davies, but Lindon Meikle, following up, could not shape his body to get in a volley.
Soon after, Gary Roberts picked out Dyer on the right-hand side of the box and his header across goal was only half cleared to Luke O'Neilll, whose first time effort from 12 yards flew into the side-netting.
The Stags' bright start continued when Adam Murray tried his luck from 35 yards and Davies had to parry the well-struck shot over his own bar.
Roberts was fortunate to escape without a booking when he scythed down Jamie McGuire close to the halfway line.
Howell then had a drive well blocked and Meikle was offside from the follow-up after Green had scrapped for possession with Nathan Pond, who was making his 300th Fleetwood appearance.
Another chance came and went for the Stags in the 15th minute when a poor clearance allowed O'Neill to swing over an inviting centre that Anthony Howell headed down for Green, who prodded over on the stretch.
The Cod Army's first opportunity came in the 19th minute as Peter Cavanagh dinked in a left-wing cross only for McGuire to head well over.
Midway through the half, Marriott made a good save to palm Pond's goalbound header onto the bar following an Alan Goodall right-wing corner.
The keeper made another smart saved when he raced off his line to block Goodall's attempted low finish after the Cod Army left-back had played a neat one-two with Gareth Seddon.
Not long after the half hour mark, McGuire was just inches away from making contact with Goodall's excellent early low centre from the left when a connection would have almost certainly meant a goal.
As the game moved towards half-time, Mansfield lifted the pressure with a long spell of possession that had the visiting fans cheering each touch.
And the Stags were happy to go in at 0-0, giving them a solid platform for the second half.
And they might have sneaked in front soon after the restart as Roberts' intricate pass played in Dyer on the right-hand side of the box, only for his finish to fly well wide as Davies advanced.
But the Cod Army were in front in the 50th minute as Mansfield were caught on the counter attack from an Exodus Geohaghon long throw.
Goodall and Cavanagh worked the ball with spilt second time to allow Beeley to race away on the overlap and advance into the box before slipping the ball through Marriott's legs.
The Cod Army almost double their advantage from another Goodall corner as Seddon's header skimmed the bar at the far post.
But Mansfield should have been back level in the 56th minute when Meikle put Dyer clean through only for the striker to shoot just past the right-hand upright.
Fleetwood responded by bringing on Brodie and Vardy at the same time, just after the hour mark, while, almost immediately, Briscoe replaced Meikle for the Stags.
And Vardy's impact was near-instantaneous as he tapped home Fleetwood's second in the 63rd minute – his 28th of the season – after Goodall raced away from O'Neill and pulled the ball back from the left byline.
But Mansfield did not give up, although Briscoe's ambitious effort on the run never threatened the Fleetwood goal.
In the 70th minute, the visitors made their second change as Murray, who has been playing through ankle trouble, was given a rest and Matt Rhead introduced as the team switched to 4-4-2.
But it took the Stags until seven minutes from time to really threaten the Fleetwood goal when O'Neill's left-wing corner was headed back across goal by Rhead for Geohaghon, whose header was too close to Davies.
As three minutes of stoppage time were added, Steve McNulty did superbly to win a last-ditch header in front of Rhead from O'Neill's pinpoint centre.
At the other end, Brodie was headed off by last man Riley just as he seemed set to plunder a Fleetwood third.
But it made no difference as the hosts held on comfortably to secure yet another victory.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Pond, Goodall, Cavanagh, McGuire, Fowler, Till (Vardy 61), Seddon (Brodie 61), Mangan. Subs not used: Vieira, Charnock, Stevenson.
Mansfield: Marriott, O'Neill, Riley, Geohaghon, Sutton (Andrew 73) Howell, Murray (Rhead 70), Roberts, Dyer, Green, Meikle (Briscoe 62). Subs not used: Worthington, Redmond.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Newcastle-upon-Tyne).
Match report: Fleetwood 2 Mansfield 0
Nottingham Post considered report by Matt Halfpenny
ON the one hand it showed just how far Mansfield Town have come. On the other, just how far they still have to go. It was never going to be any disgrace to suffer defeat against champions-elect and Football League-bound Fleetwood on their own patch.
They had, after all, gone through their previous 24 games unbeaten.
And given that the Stags had won seven out of their previous eight games to surge up to third place in the Blue Square Bet Premier table, it was never going to be a disaster either.
Even so, it is a measure of Mansfield's progress through 2011-12, particularly since Christmas, that manager Paul Cox and his players were nevertheless visibly downcast in defeat on the Fylde coast.
Unlike the 5-0 drubbing Mansfield suffered at Highbury when the two sides met for an FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay in November, the visitors made their classy hosts fight tooth and nail in the bright Spring sunshine.
This time, the Cod Army knew they had been in a game and were clearly relieved to have taken advantage of nearest rivals Wrexham's defeat at home to Forest Green Rovers.
What was evident, however, is that Mansfield are still short of what Cox has dubbed 'missing ingredients' that can transform then from a decent team capable of finishing in the top five, as they are, to an outstanding one who can go all the way to the title, just like Fleetwood look set to do.
There was not a massive gulf between the sides, no yawning chasm. When you are talking about the difference between the two, you are talking small margins.
But it is those minor details – the hardest to get right – that mark Fleetwood out as the stand-out team in the division.
Mansfield were much the better side in the opening 20 minutes, but failed to make the most of the openings that came their way.
Fleetwood, though, after a relatively quiet first half, were clinical when their moments came.
With Mansfield eyeing an opener as they won a throw in down by the right corner flag – they have, after all, scored a whole host of goals with the aid of Exodus Geohaghon's long throws – the Cod Army swept brilliantly upfield to go in front.
Passes of precision and perfect timing from Alan Goodall and then Peter Cavanagh set Shaun Beeley into space on the right-hand side of the box and he finished unerringly, shooting low between the advancing Alan Marriott's legs.
Back came Mansfield to create a one-on-one situation, as Lindon Meikle spilt the defence to set Ross Dyer free. But the striker could not make the most of it, shooting just wide of the right-hand upright.
Had Cox's men scored at that moment, it could have panned out so differently. The Stags would certainly have been in a position to battle for a draw, if not sneak all three points.
As it was, it paved the way for a second, game-sealing Fleetwood goal that highlighted their other biggest asset – the strength of their squad.
Cod Army boss Micky Mellon could afford to leave top scorer and £1 million-plus rated Jamie Vardy on the bench, along with fellow sharpshooters Richard Brodie and Magno Vieira, and trust his side would still be sufficiently equipped to get the job done.
There's no doubting Mansfield's squad is as strong as it has ever been since dropping into non-league football – and getting stronger all the time. But it still cannot match up to a club for whom former Newport stalwart Danny Rose cannot even get into the match-day 16.
Vardy underlined the point just a matter of minutes after coming on by tapping home following more good work down the left from Goodall – a summer target and trialist for the Stags – to bag his 28th league goal of the season.
Mansfield huffed and puffed in the final stages and might have pulled one back seven minutes from time when Geohaghon headed straight at keeper Scott Davies after substitute Matt Rhead had nodded a left-wing corner from Luke O'Neill into the danger zone.
Yet there was a feeling of inevitability that accomplished Fleetwood would see out the game – and they did.
It was in the early exchanges that the hosts had looked most vulnerable as Lindon Meikle could not follow up Matt Green's snapshot, O'Neill drove into the side-netting, Adam Murray had a long-range effort pushed over and Green poked too high on the stretch from close in.
But the saying goes that you need to score when you are on top, which proved exactly to be the case.
Still, it must please Cox that the supporters are starting to believe and are really getting behind his troops.
After almost 2,000 made the short trip to Alfreton in midweek, nearly 500 made the much longer journey to the north-west.
And they never stopped singing either, winning their own personal battle with the home support, despite being vastly outnumbered.
Importantly, the travelling Stags were quick to recognise that this particular trip was always likely to end in a reverse, and that because the team has done so fantastically well of late, they can better afford such a setback.
What matters now is the response to only a seventh league defeat of the season and only a second in 15 games since Christmas.
The games coming up against the likes of Ebbsfleet and Kettering, Stockport and Hayes and Yeading are matches where they will be expected to take points – and how the team handles that pressure is key.
There's no doubt that Mansfield still have a better chance than most of going on to claim a place in the Football League via the end of season play-offs.
But if they fail in that bid, then they witnessed at first hand on Saturday exactly what is required for a successful promotion assault
Town tame Stags
by ROB STOCKS
Fleetwood Town 2 Mansfield Town 0
Take your pick of the stories, the league table tells only one as Fleetwood Town tamed the rampant Stags to go nine points clear at the top of the Blue Square Premier because title rivals Wrexham conceded a last-minute winner at Forest Green .
With Mansfield some 20 points behind the Cod Army before kick-off, this wasn't technically a six-pointer but it was still a huge game between two teams harbouring promotion ambitions.
Mansfield are, after all, along with Fleetwood, one of the form teams of the Conference – seven wins in their last eight (the other a 1-1 draw with Micky Mellon's men a fortnight earlier) and 13 goals in their last two outings have seen Paul Cox's side rise to third in the table.
And the visitors, perhaps buoyed by the fact that Fleetwood's top scorer Jamie Vardy could only make the bench because of a chest infection, made their attacking intentions clear, enjoying the better of the opening exchanges.
Admittedly, the visitors had more than a little of a helping hand from the home side, who seemed hell bent on continuing their season-long strategy of lumping pressure on themselves.
Fleetwood's fragile defence has, on many occasions, threatened to derail the promotion express and, with Mansfield pressing in the first quarter hour, it seemed they might be up to their old tricks again.
Two poor passes from Steve McNulty allowed Anthony Howell to break towards the Fleetwood box, Lindon Meikle setting up Luke O'Neill who could only fire into the side-netting.
Moments later, a weak clearance from O'Neill's corner fell to Gary Roberts, whose 35-yard blast was tipped over the bar by Scott Davies.
And on the quarter hour mark, Fleetwood were again lucky not to fall behind. O'Neill was again involved, picking up on a sloppy ball from Nathan Pond, his cross headed down by Howell, Matthew Green's close-range shot fizzing over the bar.
Having survived the early onslaught, Micky Mellon's men began creating chances of their own.
Jamie McGuire, celebrating his 100th appearance for Town, grabbed the first clear opportunity for the home side but was unable to direct his header, from Peter Cavanagh's centre, goalwards.
Three minutes later it was Nathan Pond, celebrating 300 Cod Army turn-outs, in the thick of the action, showing superb strength at the back-post to get a head on Alan Goodall's corner, Alan Marriott pulling off a superb reflex save to deny the centre-half. McGuire, putting in a marathon's worth of running at the heart of the Fleetwood midfield, was almost rewarded with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, just inches away from connecting with Goodall's cross as Fleetwood took control of the game.
And Town had a shout for a penalty as the clock ran down on the first period. Peter Till, anonymous for the first half-hour, forced his way into the box and referee Scott Duncan waved away claims the midfielder's progress was unfairly checked. The home side were guilty in the first half of waiting too long to put the ball into the box and, on occasion, looking for one pass too many, but they began the second half with new urgency.
And the fresh approach almost came up with immediate rewards – Andy Mangan's run was unchecked but the 20-goal striker chose to shoot from the tightest of angles rather than cross, the side netting his only reward.
But the 3,106 fans crammed into Highbury wouldn't have to wait much longer for a goal – which came from a most unlikely source. After Fleetwood picked up the ball from a Mansfield attacking throw, Peter Cavanagh's long run down the centre split the Stags' defence, his pass perfect for Shaun Beeley. The full-back showed great composure and a fine finish, slotting low through the legs of Marriott to hand Fleetwood the lead.
Gareth Seddon almost doubled Fleetwood's advantage two minutes later, his back-post header from another Goodall corner only just over the bar with Marriott beaten.
It was to be one of the striker's last actions of the match, Mellon choosing to roll out the big guns in a bid to secure victory.
Seddon made way for Richard Brodie, Peter Till replaced by 30-goal Vardy, whose introduction proved to be an inspiration.
You could probably count the number of touches from the striker in his 30-minute cameo and have fingers to spare, but he made his first count in emphatic style.
Cavanagh picked out Goodall on the left, the full- back providing an inch-perfect cross for a lurking Vardy, who made no mistake to take his season's tally to 31.
The goal effectively killed off any hope of a Mansfield revival, although the Stags did their best to keep the Fleetwood celebrations firmly on hold.
Their best chance came from Exodus Geohaghon, the last-minute party-pooper at Field Mill, but he could only direct his free header straight at Davies.
Town's defence, showing rather uncharacteristic composure and confidence, soaked up the Mansfield advances with ease, while at the other end, Fleetwood were content to run down the clock with a game of keep ball.
Brodie wasted a chance to add to Fleetwood's goal haul when, deep into injury time, he beat the offside trap. His run into the box lacked any real gusto or commitment and Mansfield were able to clear their lines.
It mattered little in the grand scheme for Fleetwood, but could have been a welcome boost for an on-loan striker, who has struggled for confidence much of the second half of the season.
Ending Mansfield's unbeaten run is no small scalp for Fleetwood and the manner of the victory, after a testing opening, sends out a warning shot to their promotion rivals.
It's now officially a two-horse race for the title, with Wrexham the only side who can mathematically overhaul Fleetwood, and the clubs' meeting at Highbury in a fortnight could still be a title decider. But to keep the pressure on Town, Wrexham can't afford to drop any more points in the first of their two games in hand at Darlington tomorrow.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, McNulty (c), Pond, Till (Vardy, 61), Goodall, Mangan, McGuire, Seddon (Brodie,61), Cavanagh, Fowler; not used: Vieira, Charnock, Stevenson
Mansfield: Marriott, Riley, Green, Murray (c) (Rhead, 70), Dyer, O'Neill, Sutton (Andrew, 73), Howell, Meikle (Briscoe, 62), Geohaghon, Roberts Subs not used: Worthington, Redmond
Ref: S Duncan, Att: 3,106
Fleetwood Town 2-0 Mansfield Town
Town cement top spot with home win over third palce side
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town's spirits at the end of the game matched the weather as Highbury was bathed in Spring sunshine and they consolidated top position in the Blue Square Bet Premier league with a 2-0 victory over third-placed Mansfield Town.
To make things even better for the Cod Army members in the 3106 crowd, Wrexham lost at home to Forest Green by 2-1. For Town, second half goals by Shaun Beeley and Jamie Vardy dented the Stags recent form on a potentially significant day in the title chase.
The game between the league's two most prolific scorers was missing one of its main protagonists at kick off. An unwell Jamie Vardy started from the bench. Richard Brodie joined him from the team that defeated AFC Telford. Peter Till and Gareth Seddon came in. It was Till's first start in thirteen games.
Town legend, Nathan Pond, received a pre-match gift from Chairman, Andy Pilley, in recognition of his 300th game in a Town shirt. The applause from his many followers in the Cod Army rang round the ground. Jamie McGuire also received recognition for completing 100 games and there was a minute's applause for Rob Worthington, the Junior coach who sadly passed away recently.
Town came forward from the kick off with McGuire going down in the penalty area under pressure from Ritchie Sutton, only to concede a free kick. Mansfield had the first opportunity, in the sixth minute. Leading scorer, Matt Green, was played in down the right and his cross was parried by Scott Davies but, fortunately for Town, Lindon Meikle was unable to capitalise. Luke O'Neill struck the side netting two minutes later with a right foot shot as Town came under pressure from a Stags side who have scored 13 times in the last two games. There was more to come in the 10th minute, Davies tipping an Adam Murray shot from 30 yards over his crossbar. To complete an uncomfortable first quarter of an hour for the league leaders, Pond gave the ball away and O'Neill found Green who struck the ball over the bar from point blank range.
Town retaliated and applied pressure in the final third, Peter Cavanagh crossing for McGuire to head over Alan Marriott's crossbar after 18 minutes and forcing their first corner after 21 minutes. From the set piece, Pond almost marked his milestone in style, a powerful header at the near post cleared via the woodwork. Two more corners followed and Marriott had to be alert to deny Alan Goodall, fed through by Shaun Beeley, a first goal for the club. The extra cutting edge provided by Vardy was missing as the build-up was, at times, ponderous.
However, a flowing move just after the half hour excited the crowd. Lee Fowler found the overlapping Goodall who hit a first time ball across the area, just eluding McGuire's desperate lunge in front of goal. McGuire chased down Gary Roberts after 34 minutes, earning a free kick which Fowler whipped in to the near post. The former Wrexham midfielder was instrumental in another opportunity soon after, feeding Till on the left but Seddon was denied a shot on goal. Till complained he had been blocked in the area in the final minute of normal time but referee Duncan disagreed.
Andy Mangan linked with Till as the second half began but the striker put his shot wide. Mansfield came straight back with pressure down the right but the cross went harmlessly across goal. The crucial opening goal came four minutes into the second period and it was brilliant counter attack from Town. Goodall brought the ball clear of defence before feeding Cavanagh. The midfielder found the overlapping Beeley who advanced on goal before firing his first goal of the season under Marriott's body to the delight of the Cod Army packed into the Memorial Stand behind the goal. There was a further chance five minutes later as Seddon's header hit the crossbar from a corner by Goodall.
Mansfield's Ross Dyer went close after 55 minutes, his shot hitting the side netting. A double substitution on the hour saw Vardy and Brodie replace Till and Seddon. It didn't take long for Town's talisman to strike. The excellent Goodall made ground down the left before slipping the ball across goal for Vardy to tap home for his 31st and simplest strike this season after 63 minutes. Louis Briscoe, on for Meikle, tried to extend his recent scoring spree but hit the sponsor's name on the Percy Ronson Stand after 68 minutes. A second Stags substitution saw Matthew Rhead replace Murray who had been an injury doubt before the game.
Town kept the ball well, a long sequence of passes around the 70th minute forcing Mansfield to use up extra energy on a hot afternoon. Their third substitution saw Daniel Andrew replacing Sutton. McGuire went down heavily with 15 minutes left but returned to the fray after initial concerns. The game's first booking was for Andrew who brought Beeley down. The referee waved play on before showing the yellow card.
The Stags were urged on by the 480 travelling supporters and Davies plucked a header from Exodus Geohaghon out of the air on the goal line after 82 minutes. The visitors were unable to unlock the defence and find a way back as they had at home.
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