UNLUCKY STAGS BEATEN
Report from BBC.co.uk, CHAD website, plus Match Stats
Bottom club Mansfield gave highflying Cardiff a real scare at Field Mill before Peter Thorne snatched a 70th-minute winner to secure victory.
Thorne rose unchallenged at the far post to head home a Graham Kavanagh corner and settle a tense thriller.
But Mansfield more than played their part in a fine night's entertainment, and Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Alexander had to make a great save to keep out Wayne Corden's ninth-minute curler.
Mansfield's Colin Little was denied by Gary Croft's great last-ditch tackle.
Little also had a penalty appeal waved away after going down under a challenge from Alexander.
For Cardiff, Leyton Maxwell sent a first-time blast over the crossbar from eight yards after 31 minutes and Rob Earnshaw did the same early in the second half.
Mansfield were also fortunate when goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington saved well from Thorne, and Liam Lawrence cleared Kavanagh's follow-up off the line.
After Thorne had made the breakthrough, the plucky Stags almost levelled at the end when Little stretched to hook a shot past Alexander only to see it bobble inches wide of the far post.
Thorne stings Stags
Mansfield town 0 Cardiff city 1
HIGH-FLYING Cardiff punished a rare Mansfield Town defensive lapse to leave the Stags with nothing to show for a stirring display by Division Two's bottom club on Tuesday night.
Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss had called on his players to get back to their passing game, and they responded well, more than playing their part in a tense thriller on a damp and misty night at Field Mill.
Stags defended well against City's expensive strike force but were undone 20 minutes from time when they allowed Peter Thorne a free header at the far post.
But Mansfield certainly asked plenty of questions of the Welsh promotion chasers and will take great heart from this display ahead of Friday night's visit of fellow-strugglers Colchester United.
Neil MacKenzie and Jamie Clarke were left out from the side beaten at Swindon, with Wayne Corden and Iyseden Christie, making a surprise return from injury, replacing them.
Manager Watkiss opted for a bold 3-4-3 formation against the Welsh high-fliers.
The evening began with a minute's silence for 14-year-old Stags season ticket holder Harry Fell who died last week. During the silence MacKenzie laid a flower on the centre spot in a moving gesture.
Pilkington had a worrying moment in the opening seconds when Vaughan helped on a back pass which went goalwards past him, but thankfully did not carry enough strength to reach the goal line.
Neat interplay by the visitors on the edge of the box saw Earnshaw tee up Thorne who pulled his shot wide.
Lawrence then had a shot charged down to win Mansfield's first corner of the night on seven minutes.
City keeper Alexander made an excellent stop on nine minutes after Prior headed a clearance straight at Christie. The Mansfield striker squared to Little who in turn set up Corden for a right foot curler towards the top right hand corner, which Alexander halted with an outstretched hand.
City responded with a Weston cross that Thorne just could not get over as he headed too high.
Stags, playing with purpose and confidence, again came close on 16 minutes as Disley headed on Corden's ball to Christie. He found the incoming Little who delayed his finish just long enough for Croft to dive in with a saving tackle 10 yards from goal.
Stags continued to pile pressure on the Bluebirds, and Little had penalty claims waved away as he latched onto a long through ball and went down under the challenge of the keeper at his feet.
A minute later a mazy run from Corden ended with a shot charged down by a defender.
Cardiff sounded a couple of warnings around the half-hour mark.
Earnshaw got himself into a good position at the far post. Barker spotted him in space but overhit his pass into touch.
Thorne then got down the right and crossed low for Maxwell to blast his first time effort over the bar from a perfect central position.
And there was a let-off just before the break when Earnshaw threatend to outpace Vaughan, only for the referee to stop the game for treatment to Prior after a clash of heads with Christie. Prior had to leave the field for treatment to head wound.
A dangerous Corden cross from the left saw Gabbidon just get in ahead of Christie at the near post as Stags began the second half in positive fashion.
Then a loose pass from Croft saw Little sneak in and let fly with a stinging shot just wide of the right hand post on 52 minutes.
City replied with Weston evading three half-hearted Mansfield tackles before finding Earnshaw who blazed over from inside the box.
The Stags had an amazing triple let-off on 58 minutes. Pilkington got in the way of Thorne's initial blast, Lawrence cleared Kavanagh's follow-up off the line, and Thorne finally struck the loose ball wide.
Alexander needed treatment after racing out of his box to challenge the incoming Christie.
But it was City that broke through with a simple far post free header for Thorne from a Kavanagh corner 20 minutes from time.
Cardiff forced another corner shortly after which Pilkington spilled and defender Prior slid in to poke the ball just wide.
Stags had brief hope as Christie ran in space on the left of the box but Alexander was well placed to get behind his low shot at the near post.
There was a thrilling finish with chances at both ends as first Vaughan headed over from a Lawrence free kick.
Pilkington was then quickly down behind Bolland's shot on the turn.
Stags thought they had snatched a last gasp equaliser when Little stretched to reach a long cross from Corden but could only watch in agony as the ball trickled inches past the far post.
STAGS: Pilkington, Vaughan, Moore, Lever, Williamson, Corden, Christie, Disley, Lawrence, Little, Sellars (MacKenzie 77). Subs not used: J. White, Bacon, Clarke, Holyoak.
CARDIFF: Alexander, Weston, Gabbidon, Prior, Croft, Boland, Kavanagh, Barker, Maxwell (Hamilton 72), Thorne, Earnshaw (Campbell 79).. Subs not used: Fortune-West, Whalley, Margetson.
REFEREE: Neale Barry of Roxby.
SCORERS: Cardiff - Thorne 70.
CAUTION: Cardiff - Croft 29 (foul on Lawrence).
CHAD MAN OF THE MATCH: Lee Williamson.
Match Statistics (Stags/Cardiff)
11 Goal Attempts 15
6 On target 9
5 Off target 6
0 Woodwork 0
3 Corners 4
8 Fouls 8
3 Offside 3
Latest | October 2002