SUPERB STAGS BEATEN AFTER PENALTY HEARTBREAK
Mansfield Town 0 - 1 Hereford United
Attendance: 1606 (205 from Hereford)
A superb performance by Mansfield Town, but still the same result - a defeat, and Macclesfield's win at Dagenham now leaves the Stags 5 points adrift. The Stags went behind to a great free kick, again given away by the Stags in a dangerous position. The Stags dominated but couldn't score, as the Hereford keeper made a few magnificent saves. Then in the final minute, Michael Boulding (correction by Martin - it was Atkinson who was brought down) was brought down but Boulding's penalty was saved. Cruel.
Club record stat by Paul Taylor and Martin Shaw:
The Stags have now equalled their worst ever season in terms of home league defeats: 12, which was set in 2002/2003.
Attendance stat by Svante Bernhard:
Tonight's home gate, just 1606, was the lowest in the league at Field Mill for over eleven years, since 1505 watched a goal-less draw against Barnet on September 10, 1996.
Superman saves Bulls at Mansfield
By Richard Prime
Mansfield Town 0 Hereford United 1
HEREFORD'S own Superman' Wayne Brown was the Bulls hero with an injury-time penalty save at Field Mill.
The Bulls keeper dived to his left to keep out Michael Boulding's spot-kick to ensure Hereford's win.
It was the Bulls' 13th away success of the season, a new record for United in league football, and came courtesy of Clint Easton's seventh minute strike.
Following Sherjill MacDonald's return to West Bromwich Albion, Hereford boss Graham Turner recalled Theo Robinson to partner Gary Hooper in the Bulls' attack.
With seven minutes played, Easton won a free-kick on the edge of the Mansfield area.
The former Gillingham man took the free-kick himself and curled a shot around the wall and into the net.
Within 60 seconds, however, the Bulls twice had to be grateful for the agility of Brown.
The keeper flew through the air to defy Stephen Dawson and then performed a similar feat to deny Nathan Arnold.
The Mansfield hurricane then continued unabated for several minutes as the home side launched assault after assault.
But Hereford gradually fought their way back into the game and, on 33 minutes, Trent McClenahan and Gary Hooper laid a chance on a plate for Robinson.
The striker, however, scuffed his effort wide of the target.
Hereford seemed lucky to retain a full complement on the field two minutes into the second period when Dean Beckwith pulled down Michael Boulding on the edge of the area.
After a lengthy consultation with his assistant, referee Michael Thorpe showed Beckwith a yellow card.
Mansfield piled forward in search of an equaliser and Boulding's shot grazed a post on its way through.
At the other end, Robinson sent a shot fizzing across goal and wide.
The remainder of the period was fairly much one way traffic and even at the death, the post came to Hereford's rescue in a goalmouth scramble.
Hereford: Brown; McClenahan, Beckwith, McCombe, Rose; Johnson (Benjamin, 85 min), Smith, Diagouraga, Easton; Robinson (Taylor, 67 min), Hooper. Subs not used: Ingham, Threlfall, Gleeson.
Mansfield: Muggleton (White, 35 min); Mullins, Buxton, John-Baptiste, Jelleyman (Louis, 81 min); Hamshaw, D'Laryea (R Boulding, 71 min), Dawson, Atkinson; Arnold, M Boulding. Subs not used: Martin, Wood.
Referee: Michael Thorpe (Suffolk).
Yellow cards: Heredford - Beckwith, foul, 48 min; Mansfield - Mullins, 24 min, foul; John-Baptiste, 36 min, foul.
Goals: Easton, 7 min, 0-1.
Press Association report:
Goalkeeper Wayne Brown was the hero as Hereford staged a classic smash and grab raid to boost their automatic promotion hopes and leave the Stags five points from safety.
Clint Easton curled in an early free kick and then the visitors defended in depth, with Brown the hero as Mansfield's home hoodoo - one draw and nine defeats in 10 matches - continued.
Brown saved the best until last after beating away a 90th minute Mick Boulding penalty after Ben Smith had pulled down the 20-goal striker (correction by Martin - it was Atkinson who was brought down).
Then three minutes into injury-time, he clawed substitute Jefferson Louis' close-range finish away.
It was rough justice on the home side, who were led for the first time by caretaker-manager Paul Holland after Saturday's departure of veteran boss Billy Dearden.
Mansfield's early optimism was knocked back in the eighth minute from a disputed free-kick.
Easton took a long run-up and curled a 25-yard shot around the wall and into the bottom corner of the net.
The Stags though did not let the goal deflate them as first Matt Hamshaw's shot was turned around the post for a corner by the diving Brown and then from the flag-kick Nathan Arnold's 30 yard piledriver drew an even better finger-tip save from the keeper.
Hereford's neat, slick passing gradually penned the home side back and, from a Toumani Diagouraga cross, Alex John-Baptiste had to clear off the line.
The Stags were dealt a blow when experienced keeper Carl Muggleton limped off after suffering a groin strain nine minutes before half-time, but they fought back to dominate and create the better chances.
The Stags continued to surge forward after the break when they were playing into the teeth of a strong wind.
Mick Boulding was brought down by Dean Beckwith when clean through, but the Hereford defender was only yellow carded and the striker's free-kick hit the defensive wall.
Five minutes from time a spectacular diving save by Brown kept out Stephen Dawson's low drive at the foot of the post.
But the keeper kept his best save until last as the Bulls held on to boost their chances of automatic promotion.
Mansfield Town 0 Hereford United 1, Tuesday 11th March
by John Lomas
Despite a superb effort on the night, Mansfield Town lost a ninth home game in 10 and slipped five points adrift of safety against a very accomplished Hereford United last night.
Stags turned in a much improved show for caretaker boss Paul Holland but couldn't find a way past brilliant Bulls keeper Wayne Brown who capped a string of saves with a last minute penalty save from Mickey Boulding.
Clint Easton netted the all-important winner from a seventh minute free kick.
But otherwise Stags pinned the Bulls in their own half for long periods without finding an ounce of luck against United's promotion-chasers.
In direct contrast to Saturday, Stags were warmly applauded off at half time and full time but, despite showing fire and passion, they simply slipped deeper into the mire on a cold, windy night.
They even lost keeper Carl Muggleton to a groin strain in the first half as Lady Luck shunned them.
Holland made two changes, one enforced, from Saturday's home embarrassment against Rochdale.
Striker Louis, who has not scored for four games since his initial three goals in four match burst, was dropped to the bench and Arnold came in to play just behind top scorer Boulding.
Keith Briggs missed out with a hamstring injury so D'Laryea returned to central midfield.
The game began at high pace in the powerful wind and Arnold tried to prod Boulding through, but the imposing Beckwith covered well.
Stags cleared a corner and broke fast down the right with Arnold's testing cross headed clear by Easton.
Mansfield kept on the pressure and won a corner which was cleared to Atkinson who warmed Brown's hands from 18 yards.
But on seven minutes Mansfield conceded a free kick 20 yards out in a central position, as at Wrexham, and Easton curled it superbly round the wall and inside Muggleton's right hand post to edge the visitors ahead.
It was a real kick in the teeth, but fired-up Stags grittily hit back as Hamshaw ran at the defence and saw Brown turn his shot round.
Soon after Arnold swivelled 30 yards from goal to unleash a thunderous blast which Brown had to tip over his bar.
Brown was again in the way as Dawson tried his luck from 20 yards.
Robinson found himself in space in the Mansfield box, despite appearing clearly offside and Buxton had to produce a vital tackle before he could get a shot away.
Rose stayed down after a Mullins tackle to the fury of the home fans as the referee decided to brandish a yellow card.
Stags defended well from a high ball into the box and Diagouraga blazed over from 25 yards as it came out to him.
Dawson lost possession to set up another Bulls attack and it ended with John-Baptiste clearing in front of goal as Diagouraga drilled the ball into the six yard box.
Hamshaw only just overhit a through ball for Dawson, the ball rolling through to Brown who was also comfortably behind a Hamshaw strike.
On 33 minutes Hereford should have extended their lead from a burst down the right that fully stretched the home defence. Hooper put the ball across to Robinson who had got in behind everyone but he was unable to take it first time and Mullins was able to do enough to force him to pull his finish wide.
But Mansfield suffered an injury blow at this point as keeper Muggleton signalled a groin injury and was replaced by White - his first game since a sub appearance on 6th October.
Despite Hereford supporters' calls, John-Baptiste was adjudged not have been the last man as he brought down Robinson and was only yellow carded, Smith sending the free kick just over the bar.
Mullins had a firm header blocked from yet another Hamshaw corner, though it did look as if it may be going wide.
A huge White clearance almost put Boulding away down the centre but the two centre halves shut him out well.
Stags forced corner number seven in stoppage time and John-Baptiste met it with a free header that he should have worked Brown with but sent over.
Stags left the field to applause and encouragement from supporters who had seen a much gutsier and committed display from their team.
The second half exploded into controversy as Hamshaw's through ball put Boulding away only to be cynically upended by Beckwith before he could shoot. It looked a red card all the way but he escaped with a yellow and Boulding's free kick was into the wall.
A Stags corner was headed by John-Baptiste and Mullins met it with a dipping header that landed on top of the net.
Stags were simply pummelling the visitors at this point but needed a goal to show for their efforts while they were on top.
Boulding flicked on a Jelleyman ball and Arnold turned well to force a save from Brown from a tight angle.
A superb turn from Boulding in the box gave him sight of goal but he fired hard and low across goal and Atkinson could not reach it to turn it home.
Hereford were momentarily three on two on a fast break only for Atkinson to race back superbly and get in the way of Johnson.
In reply Dawson's up and under was controlled well by Arnold but he dragged a quick finish wide.
Robinson did well to trick his way past Buxton and flash a shot across goal. It was his last action as the Bulls tried to shore things up by going one up front.
Stags responded by sending on young striker Rory Boulding for D'Laryea.
Arnold had a 20 yard blast deflect wide from the first of two more corners as the clock ticked on with the news that Macclesfield had gone ahead.
Boulding did well to hoist the ball back from the by-line shadowed by two defenders but Dawson's volley chance saw him kick at thin air.
Desperate Stags added a third striker as Louis came on for Jelleyman for the last minutes.
Dawson thought he had snatched a point three minutes from time as his low shot looked set for the bottom corner only for Brown to get across superbly to turn it aside.
But in the last minute it seemed Stags would get some reward for their effort as Louis' ball into the box found Boulding who was brought down from behind by Smith (correction by Martin - it was Atkinson who was brought down).
Boulding's spot kick was firm but Brown was equal to it with a great save diving to his left.
More agony followed as the magnificent Brown clawed a close range Louis effort off the line with Stags saying it had gone over. No such luck right now.
STAGS: Muggleton (White 34), Mullins, Jelleyman (Louis 81), D'Laryea (R. Boulding 71), Hamshaw, Dawson, M. Boulding, Buxton, John-Baptiste, Arnold, Atkinson. Subs not used: Martin, Wood.
HEREFORD: Brown, McLenahan, Rose, McCombe, Smith, Easton, Diagouraga, Robinson (Taylor 67), Johnson (Benjamin 85), Beckwith, Hooper. Subs not used: Ingham, Threlfall, Gleeson.
REFEREE: Mike Thorpe of Suffolk.
GOAL: Hereford - Easton 7.
CAUTIONS: Stags - Mullins 24 (foul), John-Baptiste 37 (foul).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Hamshaw.
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