County come undone by an exhibition of fine finishing at Mansfield…
Exiles manager John Sheridan bought both midweek loan signings, Zak Ansah and Scot Bennett, into the starting line-up for the clash at the One Call Stadium, with Arron Collins and Scott Boden dropping to the bench.
Early chances were few and far between, as both teams took the opening exchanges to interpret each others setup, with the majority of the play taking place in the middle of the pitch.
The host began to enjoy more possession inside the County half and the first opportunity of the game fell to Matt Green, who managed to find space to fire a volley towards goal that was thankfully blocked by Matt Taylor, who threw himself at the ball.
County responded soon after with a chance from a corner, as Mark Byrne delivered the set-piece from the left and found the leaping Janoi Donacien, who glanced his header over the crossbar.
Malvind Benning was beginning to cause the County back-four problems, with his dangerous crosses from the left-wing. A curled delivery by the left-back was met by Matt Taylor, who's header looked like it may potentially creep past Joe Day, but the County 'keeper was able to gather the ball with ease, after a heart-in-mouth moment for the travelling County fans behind this goal.
After a scramble inside the County area, Danny Holmes went down injured, clutching his ankle and was forced to depart the game early. Seth Nana Twumasi replaced him and was tasked with limiting the crossing opportunities for Malvind Benning down the left-wing.
County's best opportunity of the first period game when Yan Klukowski was able to release Zak Ansah, who advanced with purpose towards goal and was allowed to continue his run into the Mansfield area. Zak opened his body and sent a curling effort towards goal, that has seen all the way by veteran 'keeper Brian Jensen and was at such a height he was able to gather the ball comfortably.
The deadlock was broken early in the second period, when a interchange between Matt Green and Craig Westcarr, allowed the hosts to split the County defence and allow Westcarr the space to fire his volley home from close range.
Mansfield were encouraged by the goal and almost added a second soon after. Matt Green had an effort deflected and the ball looked to be creeping just underneath the crossbar, but the back-pedaling Joe Day was able to tip the ball over the crossbar, and keep the deficit at one-goal.
County made two changes in an attempt to get back into the game. Alex Rodman and Scott Boden were introduced and immediately provided the creative catalyst to produce chances.
Both substitutes combined when Scott Boden played a delightful through ball to Rodman, to play him clean through on goal. Rodman advanced towards the goalmouth and and attempted to place his effort past the gigantic frame of Brain Jensen, but the ‘keeper smothered his shot and the chance went amiss.
Immediately after County had the chance to draw level, the hosts added a second, with a stunning volley from Malvind Benning flying into the top corner, with little Joe Day could do to prevent it.
County rebuffed and responded with two decent chances coming via the returning striker Zak Ansah. His first effort, a deflected shot from inside the area, was denied by the legs of the hosts ‘keeper.
Zak’s second chance was a long-range effort that forced Jensen into a parrying save to his left, and the duo of chances exhibited the best chances County had to clutch a goal back.
Deep into the three minutes of added time, substitute striker Adi Yussef was allowed the space turn on the edge of the area and fired a precision strike into the bottom corner, to complete the scoring.
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