Tuesday 21st February 2012, at Field Mill
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town (2) 5
John Dempster 15, Matt Green 40, 70 75 (pen),
Louis Briscoe 86
Darlington (1) 2
Marc Bridge Wilkinson 3, John McReady 72
Admission season ticket, Programme £3,
Attendance 1697 (80 from Darlo)
1 Marriott, 2 Edwards, 16 O'Neill, 17 Sutton, 31 Dempster,
11 Murray, 35 Roberts, 10 Green, 15 Dyer (9 Rhead-90mins),
19 Smith (24 Meikle - 71mins ), 28 Hutchinson (7 Briscoe-46mins)
23 Redmond, 6 Riley
24 Pickford, 2 Arnison, 17 Ferguson, 19 Bagnall,
7 Keltie (11 Lambert-85mins), 8 Taylor, 16 McReady,
22 Ramshaw, 31 Bridge-Wilkinson,
12 Bowman (20 Rundle-81mins), 27 Harrison
13 Nixon, 14 Barton, 30 Hopson
The Lincoln City (and former Stags) boss David Holdsworth, watched tonight's game from the front of the Quarry Lane End.
Some Mansfield fans greeted him warmly, however a few dozen of the more vociferous ones, weren't quite as welcoming.
His struggling Imps side visit Field Mill on March 3rd, so he would've been running the rule over Paul Cox's team play off challengers in anticipation; while wishing he was still looking on from the home team dug out, instead of Row 1 of the cheap seats.
Either way, he left early, just as Matt Green put the Stags 3-1 ahead ... and as a consequence missed the most exciting part of the game and a couple of the Stags best moves.
Never mind, I'm sure those involved will provide a repeat performance for him, when they beat Lincoln City in a couple of weeks time.
Note that is definitely when ... not if!
Darlington FC, seem to have been perpetually beset with problems caused by crooks, conmen and a series of chairmen, owners and 'so called' investors, who weren't fit for the purpose of running a football club, for a very long time now.
But even Lazarus, Harry Houdini and a whole litter of eleven lived cats, are looking on in awestruck wonderment at their latest struggle to survive.
And marvelling at how on earth they are looking like managing to stay alive by the skin of their teeth, yet again!
I salute the supporters of this ailing club, that once more has found itself teetering on the brink ... and I genuinely hope that their anticipated salvation unfolds in the nick of time.
Anybody looking at the scoreline tonight, who wasn't at the game, would probably assume that Darlo had been on the wrong end of a bit of a mauling.
Yet, the truth of the matter is, Mansfield never actually got to hold of the game and took it by the scruff of the neck, until the Quakers gave them a massive wake up alarm call, by scoring their second goal to make it uncomfortably close at 3-2.
Jordan Pickford, the on loan Sunderland goalkeeper, guarding the visitors net for them tonight, had a bit of a torrid time of it, at the hands of the 'in form' Matt Green.
It was a very steep learning curve cum crash course for Pickford, for prolonged spells and he won't forget his first visit to Field Mill, or the one on one close attention he received from the Stags number 10, in a hurry.
The Green v Pickford duel, was pivotal to everything else that happened tonight and the prolific striker (21 goals so far this season after tonight) had his opponent rattled more often than not, by getting in his face, on his toes and testing the young shot stopper's mettle to the full.And though the Stags were well in control by the time Ross Dyer set up Louis Briscoe for their fifth goal, they had stumbled unconvincingly through the first 75 minutes, before reaching the point where Matt Green's hat trick clinching penalty, finally put some distance between team and their stubborn, 'never say die' opponents.
The margin of victory was slightly flattering, given the way the game had gone on the whole.
But I suppose I shouldn't really complain about that.
I've seen Mansfield play really well several times this season and not get what the results their effort deserved out of games.
Well, tonight they weren't entirely convincing until the final fifteen minutes, but did enough in the later stages of the game to warrant a win.
'Tis the time of year where results are of paramount importance and just how you came to win any three points that come your way, isn't always the be all and end all.
Mansfield need to keep on the heels of the play off chasing pack to keep their season alive, by whatever means necessary.
A win is a win, nobody ever said it was going to be easy, or even convincing, or pretty to watch at all times.
Mansfield Town website report:
Darlington website report: