Stevenage suffered defeat on the road with a 1-0 reverse at Mansfield this afternoon in Sky Bet League 2.
Graham Westley’s men took the game to the Stags in the first half and created the best of the chances through Bruno Andrade and Danny Johnson but will rue not taking those chances. Mansfield improved in the second half and took all three points courtesy of sub Reggie Lambe’s 52nd minute volley.
Stevenage made five changes from the side that lost against Oxford with Bira Dembele and Chris Whelpdale returning, Ben Kennedy handed his first start and both Bruno Andrade and Danny Johnson making their first appearances since arriving on loan. Scholars Ross Millard and Jack Storer were also named on the bench.
Mansfield themselves made a number of alterations themselves and with a change of formation took time to get into this game, leaving Stevenage to control much of the opening exchanges and win a couple of corners after probing play forward.
Bruno Andrade looked keen to impress on his return to Stevenage and he went close to hitting the target 9 minutes in when Kennedy found the winger short from a free-kick, but after shifting the ball onto his left foot could only fire over.
The Stags’ first half chance came on 13 minutes when a long ball forward saw target man Rhead knock-down for Oliver, but in came Wells with a last ditch tackle behind before the striker could pull the trigger.
Stevenage continued to look the more solid, having most of the possession and territorial advantage. All that was lacking was clear chances on goal, with Boro restricted to half-chances through Kennedy and Johnson.
With 10 minutes remaining of the half Mansfield won a free-kick when Kennedy was penalised for a foul. Clements curled his 30-yard effort up and over the wall but there was Day to parry behind. The resulting corner came out to Lee Beevers lurking on the edge of the box but fortunately his volleyed effort flew wide.
Stevenage’s best chance of the half came three minutes later when a Mansfield clearance deflected right into Andrade’s path in space. The winger raced towards goal and went past one defender with ease, only to drag his shot agonisingly wide of Pidgeley’s near post, with Johnson screaming for the ball in space.
Both teams had a great chance to take a lead into the break with action at both ends just prior to half-time. From a Mansfield corner Tafazoli powered a header at goal, only for Day to produce a great save. Boro broke through Andrade, who found Johnson in space but he was eventually crowded out inside the box and the chance was gone.
Mansfield made a sub at the start of the second half, bring on Reggie Lamb and the winger was to break the deadlock just seven minutes after the restart in the first real moment of quality from the hosts in the game.
Under pressure from Boro’s midfield Chris Clements played a lovely ball out wide for Lee Beevers, earning applause from the home faithful. His cross-field ball into Rhead saw the striker head across goal for Lambe to volley home into the roof of the net for 1-0.
Stevenage came close to an equaliser just prior to the hour when a long ball found its way through the home defence but Johnson could only find the side netting with a first-time effort. It was to be Boro’s only real chance on goal until the final stages as, buoyed by that lead, Mansfield enjoyed much more possession than in the first half.
N’Guessan replaced Dembele with 25 minutes remaining as Boro went to a back three in an attempt to get back in the game. To an extent it worked as Mansfield dropped deeper in the closing stages and allowed Boro to approach the Stags area, but all too often the final ball failed to find its target and the moves fizzled out.
Lee volleyed over the bar, Kennedy saw a shot deflect behind and Whelpdale sliced a shot wide as chances came and went , but in truth home ‘keeper Lenny Pidgeley didn’t have too much to do in the half, which will disappoint Graham Westley.
A first win for Mansfield since December sees the Stags rise the table but for Boro it’s a quick turnaround as Bury visit The Lamex this Tuesday night. Midweek games under the lights at home often provide great entertainment and you can find ticket news here.
Mansfield: Pidgeley, Beevers, Sutton, Tafazolli, Raynes, Elder, Clements, Ravenhill, Oliver, Rhead (Brown 84), Kee (Lambe 46)
Subs not used: Studer, Riley, Bingham, McGuire, Heslop
Stevenage: Day, Henry, Wells, Charles, Dembele (N’Guessan 65), Andrade, Lee, McAllister (Walton 67), Whelpdale, Kennedy, Johnson (Beardsley 79)
Subs not used: Beasant, Ashton, Millard, Storer
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 2,436 (160 away)