Mansfield Town produced a fantastic 45 of minutes of football in the second half at Cambridge United on Saturday to come from behind and convincingly beat a team that was unbeaten for eight league games, including six wins and two draws.
Mansfield have so far brought in six new players during the transfer window and five of them contributed heavily to this impressive victory.
Goalkeeper Jake Kean conceded his first goal in a Stags shirt after clean sheets in his opening four games. But he had no chance with an early close-range header when Stags new full-back Hayden White allowed George Maris to get above him and head home. It was a rare mistake from White, who otherwise had a very good game with plenty of good defending including a couple of good blocks. White also got forward well and played a big part in Mansfield’s third goal.
Cambridge had edged a tight first half when the Stags were fortunate to be level on 43 minutes through an own goal as Rhys Bennett headed forward from the edge of the area from Joel Byrom’s cross and defender Leon Legge, in trying to clear, shanked the ball past his own ‘keeper.
It was the stroke of luck Mansfield needed as it sparked a great second-half performance. The Stags went in front as a fine corner from the right by Byrom was attacked by Krystian Pearce, who thumped a header down into the ground and into the roof of the net from six yards. Terrific from Pearce and great delivery again from Byrom.
The Stags increased the lead when White fired in a good shot from the edge of the area on the right. The ‘keeper got down low to make a save, but could only parry the ball straight to Shaq Coulthirst, who bundled into the net from about a yard. Right place at the right time for Coulthirst on his debut. He’d signed on loan from Peterborough a few days before the game and had a difficult first half, which included a bad miss, but he improved hugely in the second half.
Mansfield saw the game out very professionally, winning numerous free-kicks, corners and throw-ins and giving Cambridge nothing with which to get themselves back into the game.
So great character from Mansfield to come from behind to win and, in the end, they thoroughly deserved it after that excellent second-half showing.
There were plenty of really good performances throughout the side. The other new boy, Ben Whiteman, created numerous good moments in the game, including firing in a couple of decent shots. He really is looking a top-class player who will go back to Sheffield United next season and will surely be knocking on their first-team door.
The entire defence looked very solid, nullifying the real threat of big Cambridge striker Uche Ikpeazu and attacking midfielder Luke Berry, apart from that Cambridge goal where White could have done better, and CJ Hamilton should have made a better attempt to stop the cross coming in. There were contributions from the defenders in all three goals too, with Bennett’s header for the first, Pearce’s header for the second, and White’s fine shot for the third.
In midfield, Lee Collins had another fine game in front of the back four, while Byrom oozed quality from set-pieces and had a decent game from open play as well.
The Stags are now unbeaten in six league and cup games, back into the top half of the table, and just three points behind the play-off places in a congested league. Steve Evans is getting together an impressive side.