FOURTH AWAY WIN ON TROT FOR STAGS
Blue Square Bet Premier
Southport 1 - 2 Mansfield Town
Whalley 6. Murray 19, Stevenson 54
Attendance: 804 (80 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 January 2013
Martin Shaw at Haig Avenue
A fourth away win on the trot for Mansfield Town with a good performance at Southport to recover from a sluggish start. Preparation for the game was not good and the Stags should have been allowed to travel the night before in my opinion with difficult traveling conditions likely on the morning of the game while the game was likely to go ahead after only an inch of snow on Friday and the pitch not frozen. Fortunately all players were able to get to Southport and so the Stags were able to name an unchanged side. Mansfield were behind on 6 minutes with a magnificent solo goal from the hugely impressive Shaun Whalley, after a combination of Murray and Stevenson had given the ball away in the middle of the park. The Stags started to come to life from around the 15 minute mark and were level on 19 minutes when Daniel made an outstanding run down the left, got to the byeline and pulled the ball back to Murray whose first shot was blocked but he buried the rebound. The Stags dominated the rest of the half but were unable to get in front until 54 minutes, when Stevenson scored from the edge of the box with a fine finish. The Stags had several chances to make the game safe but were unable to, and Southport, who were largely outplayed, had two chances to undeservedly equalise as Jones headed off the line following a corner on 80 minutes and Ledsham had a shot wickedly deflected inches wide of the post on 85 minutes. In stoppage time, sub Briscoe sent a wonderful effort against the underside of the bar. But it didn't matter as the Stags picked up six points from two away days to the North-West.
The pitch was in terrific condition and great credit to the groundstaff and volunteers who cleared an inch of snow off the pitch in the morning. On a cold afternoon, three players have to be named and shamed for wearing gloves: Beevers, Howell and Green! With reporters not able to wear gloves as they have to make notes, I don't see why players should.
Stagsnet player ratings in the match centre
Man of the match: Colin Daniel
Saturday, 19th January 2013: Southport 1 Mansfield Town 2
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
LEE Stevenson was the hero for Mansfield Town today as his second goal in five days saw the Stags come from behind to make it four successive away league wins in their game at snow-bound Southport.
But Lee Beevers also produced a crucial goal line clearance near the end to deny the in-form Sandgrounders , who had only lost once in their previous eight games, a point.
On a wintry afternoon, the visitors were caught cold by a sixth minute Shaun Whalley strike.
But captain Adam Murray ended a lengthy league goal drought to level on 19 minutes as Mansfield took a firm grip on the game and unlucky not to be ahead by the break.
However, the goal finally arrived when Stevenson netted on 54 minutes to push Paul Cox's men to eighth, three points off the play-off spots with three games still in hand.
Stags were unchanged from the team that triumphed 3-1 at Stockport in midweek.
Many games fell victim to the weather today, but the Sandgrounders' Haigh Avenue pitch survived a morning inspection after snow, left on overnight to protect it from frost, was cleared by an army of volunteers.
Southport were not permitted to play on-loan Stags duo Andy Owens and Godfrey Poku.
A scrappy start saw Daniel lift a hopeful 35 yard effort well over on three minutes.
But when Stags lost possession via a loose pass from Stevenson in the middle of the park, the home side punished them with an early goal from their first attack.
There seemed little danger when Moogan spread the ball to Whalley on the right. But he teased and drew defenders before lashing a superb finish across Marriott and inside the far post.
When Stevenson conceded a free kick in the centre circle, Moogan cheekily tried to lob Marriott but was well over the top.
Another promising Whalley run ended with Tames miscontrolling his final pass in a central position and the moment was gone.
Home keeper mcMillan finally had work to do on 17 minutes as Beevers crossed into the middle from the left and Green rose to glance a six yard on target which McMillan was able to grab.
However, the visitors were level on 19 minutes thanks to a powerful run to the by-line down the left by Daniel.
He was able to pull a low ball back into the path of Murray whose first effort was blocked on the line but rolled back to him to make no mistake at the second time of asking.
It was the skipper's first league goal since April 2011.
A superb move from Stags saw Howell switch play to the left where Beevers fed Daniel into space for a cross-cum-shot from a tight angle that McMillan smothered.
Southport forced their first corner on 24 minutes which saw Marriott fist the ball away as far as Whalley who squared a quick pass to Moogan whose half-volley was straight down the keeper's throat.
Howell sliced horribly wide from outside the box at the other end a minute later.
Stags' first corner, taken by Murray, saw Dempster miskick and swing at fresh air before Daniel appeared behind him to lash over.
The home side quickly countered and Tames got down the right and drilled a firm ball across the six yard box with Whalley unable to reach it.
Another away corner was headed clear at the near post.
Then Stevenson was not too far over on 33 minutes with an effort from the left hand corner of the box.
From a long throw by Beevers, both Stevenson and Howell had efforts blocked, then McMillan confidently claimed another Murray corner.
But this was much better from the visitors.
The keeper had to leave his box to clear before Daniel could capitalise on Murray's through ball as the pressure stayed firmly on the Sandgrounders.
Another Murray corner reached Dempster at the far post who laid the ball back for Stevenson who tried a delicate curling finish towards the far angle but was narrowly wide.
Daniel was in good form down the left, forcing McMillan to come for and grab two crosses then over-hitting a third.
More late pressure from Stags ended with them conceding a free kick in the home box as they ended the half well on top but unable to make the pressure count.
Southport forced a corner straight from the restart which saw Marriott come for the ball but, uncharacteristically, let it through his grasp which saw the visitors unable to punish him.
Southport tried to get the visitors onto the back foot, but it didn't last long as Mansfield again began to ask the questions.
And on 54 minutes they took the lead with Stevenson's second goal in five days.
Howell carved out the chance with a cutting pass down the middle that saw the midfielder control and turn to lay a low, perfectly-placed finish back across the keeper into the bottom corner.
Daniel was booked for a clattering late tackle on Benjamin on 58 minutes.
A neat move down the left saw Stevenson cross hard and low into the middle where Meikle seemed to control with his hand but was allowed to spin and get in a shot that deflected wide for a corner.
Stags almost extended their lead on 66 minutes as Green played a one-two to get in to the box and fired in a shot that McMillan parried. Green then squared the loose ball towards Stevenson who slipped at the vital moment and was unable to get there. As it was half-cleared again, Sutton eventually fired inches over from 25 yards.
On 72 minutes Tames was cautioned for a late tackle on Beevers as the full back cleared, Tames' last action as he was subbed seconds later.
Mansfield really needed that all-important third goal. And it seemed it may come as Jones rose well to meet a corner from the right, but he failed to get any power or direction on it.
Whalley then left Meikle for dead with hiss pace and raced into a dangerous position on a break down the right only to then float the ball behind tamely for a goalkick.
There was worry on 80 minutes as Marriott again came for but failed to claim a corner and sub Joyce saw Beevers clear his finish off the line.
Four minutes from time there was another let-off for Mansfield as Ledshaw drilled in a low shot which Akrigg turned inches wide of the near post from five yards out.
Briscoe replaced the outstanding Daniel a minute from time in what was becoming a nervous finish for the visitors.
Three minutes were added on at the end in which Meikle got a shot on the turn on target but straight at McMillan.
A minute later Briscoe got his first run and saw his rocket shot come back off the crossbar – the final action of another highly-satisfyling away afternoon for Paul Cox's men.
SOUTHPORT: McMillan, Smith, Willis (Bakare H/T), Grand, Parry, Akrigg, Tames (Joyce 72), Benjamin, Whalley, Ledsham, Moogan (Chalmers 79). Subs not used: Hibbert, Lynch.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Jones, Beevers; Murray, Howell, Stevenson; Meikle, Green, Daniel (Briscoe 89). Subs not used: Rhead, Wright, Clements, Thompson.
REFEREE: Chris Kavanagh of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 804 (80 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Junior Daniel
Chase is well and truly on for Mansfield Town after Southport win
Nottingham Post report by Stevie Roden
THE declaration has been made. The chase is well and truly on for Mansfield Town.
After a slip-up a week ago against Kidderminster following the FA Cup exploits with Liverpool, boss Paul Cox sent out a damning warning to his troops.
Although games in hand, they had slipped to nine points off the play-off places in the Blue Square Bet Premier at the halfway point in their campaign.
Changes were made, with Lee Stevenson, Colin Daniel and Luke Jones all being given their chance.
And after a midweek victory at Stockport, they went to Southport on Saturday and not only beat the snow, but the Sandgrounders too.
The 2-1 win on Merseyside means the Stags have clawed back six points on fifth place, are just three off the play-off places and still with games in hand.
Some of the qualities from that solid run at the end of last season were on show as they recorded a fourth successive league victory on the road and afterwards, the twinkle was back in the eye of Cox.
For the hardcore Stags fans who dug their cars out of the snow to head to the north-west, they wanted repaying on a freezing afternoon.
While back in north Nottinghamshire there had been heavy downfalls, at Southport it had not been as relentless, yet it still took volunteers to clear the pitch on the morning of the game.
And the hosts must have been thinking it was all worthwhile in the sixth minute as a poor ball to Adam Murray in the middle of the park was pounced upon by Alan Moogan who broke forward, fed Shaun Whalley on the right of the box and he cut inside before curling a superb effort beyond Alan Marriott into the far corner.
For the first 15 minutes, Stags were very sloppy, it was a worry. But from there on in, Mansfield took the initiative.
Matt Green threatened with a header before, on 19 minutes, Daniel went on a powerful run beyond the full-back before cutting it back to Murray, whose first shot was blocked before he hammered home the rebound.
Stevenson then started to come into his own.
Known as a natural goalscorer at both Eastwood and Belper before, his chances have been few and far between since joining Mansfield 18 months ago.
But on Saturday, he showed his knack of being in the right place at the right time as he found himself shuffling his feet down the left of the Southport box before getting his effort away, only just over the bar.
After a Stevenson shot spun into the path of Anthony Howell six yards out, he fired an effort on the turn only to see it blocked before John Dempster cushioned it at the back post from a corner, touched back to Stevenson who lofted a strike towards the back stick – but there was just too much on it.
But Stevenson's perseverance paid off nine minutes into the second half, as he put the Stags ahead.
Howell's pass to Stevenson on the edge of the box picked his team-mate out in a central position, saw him turn away from his marker before pulling a well-taken left-footed shot into the far corner, wrong-footing Tony McMillan who got down to his left too late.
It was Stevenson's second goal in two games since coming back into the team and his third in four starts this season and finally, with him only going to get sharper, he could have an integral part in the chase that lies ahead.
But so could Daniel, who was outstanding, a constant menace down the left as Mansfield controlled the game.
Green nearly scored on 66 minutes when he turned and thundered a fierce effort that McMillan could only parry but Stevenson lost his footing as he looked to poke home the rebound and after being partially cleared, Ritchie Sutton blazed just over from 20 yards.
There was a scare for Stags before the game was out as Lee Beevers headed clear off the line from Charlie Joyce, after Marriott was caught off his line from a corner before Whalley diverted Karl Ledsham's low effort the wrong side of the post.
There was still time for substitute Louis Briscoe to make an impact, in stoppage time, as he ended a mazy run by hammering a 20-yard effort beyond McMillan, only to see it crash back off the crossbar.
It did not matter, the game was won and more importantly than the back-to-back wins and closing the gap by six points in the process, the Stags appear to have a steel about them.
In the past, both last year at Mansfield and during his successful time at Eastwood, Cox's teams have always finished the season strongly.
On the weekend's evidence, against an in-form Southport, Stags looked to have that hunger the manager has been searching for. As a result, the chase is well and truly on
SOUTHPORT 1 - 2 MANSFIELD TOWN - REPORT
It was at 8am on Saturday morning that a band of volunteers began arriving at the Merseyrail Community Stadium to help clear the pitch of snow.
In the end, their efforts went unrewarded, as they watched Mansfield Town come away with a victory for which the visiting team were good value.
A goal in either half was enough to earn Mansfield maximum points, and in truth their win was more comfortable than the scoreline would suggest.
Although Shaun Whalley had put Southport ahead with a sixth-minute strike, it was the visitors who emerged as the stronger and more structured team, controlling the play and restricting the Sandgrounders to precious little in attack.
While Southport came into this game on the back of three straight wins, their opponents had also shown good form of late, with a fourth away victory on the bounce taking them to the brink of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off places.
As manager Liam Watson reflected afterwards, a gap in quality was evident between the teams - something due in no small part to a lengthening list of absentees.
The loss of the influential Andy Owens and Godfrey Poku, both unable to play against their parent club, was compounded by injury to another three sidelined players. Liam Willis withdrew at half-time with a hamstring strain, while Steve Akrigg was called upon to make his first start in nine games, despite being scheduled to undergo a shoulder operation at the end of the month.
Akrigg, for his part, enjoyed a very assured 90 minutes. In midfield, Russell Benjamin tried tirelessly to disrupt Mansfield's flow, while Whalley's role as the most adventurous Southport player was typified by a goal all of his own making.
Veering in from the right, Whalley cleverly created space for himself, before sliding a carefully-placed shot across the dive of goalkeeper Alan Marriott to give the home side an early lead.
It was a perfect start for Southport, but with only two teams conceding more goals this term, they were once again punished for moments of defensive carelessness.
As the first half progressed, Mansfield began to gain a stranglehold on possession.
Anthony Howell ought to have made more of a free header, but the visitors did level on 19 minutes, Adam Murray converting the follow-up after his initial effort from a Colin Daniel cross had been stopped by Tony McMillan.
In a Mansfield team featuring a number of eye-catching individual performances, Murray was the mainstay of the midfield, while Daniel ran riot throughout the afternoon on the left wing.
Mansfield were in front nine minutes after half-time thanks to Lee Stevenson.
From a Howell pass, Stevenson exploited the space given to him by the Southport defence to net a low 16-yard strike.
Substitute Louis Briscoe came closest to a third, sending a fizzing drive against a post in stoppage time and bringing to an end what, for Southport, had been a long winter's day.
Southport: Tony McMillan, Andy Parry, Steve Akrigg, James Smith, Simon Grand, Liam Willis (Michael Bakare 46), Russell Benjamin, Alan Moogan (Aaron Chalmers 79), Karl Ledsham, Shaun Whalley, Steven Tames (Charlie Joyce 73).
Subs not used: Zac Hibbert, Chris Lynch.
Mansfield Town: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, Luke Jones, John Dempster, Lee Beevers, Anthony Howell, Adam Murray, Lindon Meikle, Craig Daniel (Louis Briscoe 89), Lee Stevenson, Matt Green.
Subs not used: John Thompson, Nicholas Wright, Chris Clements, Matt Rhead.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Man of the match: Shaun Whalley
Report by Alan Jones
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