Stags hit top form to shock boss Cox

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Chris Phillips To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

THE LEAGUE Two form guide was turned up­side down as Mans­field Town saw off Southend – much to the de­light, and even sur­prise, of Stags boss Paul Cox.

The Stags went in to the game with­out a win at home since Septem­ber while the Shrimpers had yet to suf­fer a league de­feat in 2014.

But goals from Sam Clu­cas and James Jen­nings meant that Mans­field came out on top against a Southend side who had sub­sti­tute Conor Clif­ford sent off nine min­utes from time.

And Mans­field boss Cox was thrilled to have ended a run of 11 games with­out a win at their own ground.

“I would be ly­ing if I said it hadn’t been play­ing on our minds so it was great to get a good re­sult, es­pe­cially against a very strong side,” said Cox.

“For two-and-a-half years we had made this place a fortress and had some mag­nif­i­cent games in front of our own fans but it just hasn’t hap­pened this sea­son for some rea­son.

“It’s im­por­tant we turn it around and we de­served it be­cause we played some good stuff in the ap­palling con­di­tions and passed and de­fended well when it was needed.”

Mans­field went in front in the 36th minute when a fan­tas­tic first touch from Clu­cas put him through on goal be­fore he fired home a low, left footed shot from 12 yards.

The Stags then dou­bled their lead with 65 min­utes on the clock when Southend goal­keeper Daniel Bent­ley fum­bled a header from Matt Rhead and Jen­nings was on hand to fire the ball home from close range.

Southend then suf­fered a blow in the 81st minute when Clif­ford was sent off against Mans­field for the sec­ond time this sea­son af­ter mak­ing a two-footed chal­lenge on Rhead.

The Shrimpers were still able to net a late con­so­la­tion with Ryan Leonard fir­ing home from long range.

But that did lit­tle to im­prove the mood of their man­ager Phil Brown, who aimed his tirade at ref­eree Si­mon Hooper.

“We didn’t win the game be­cause we weren’t good enough but I’m baf­fled by some of the ref­eree’s de­ci­sions, es­pe­cially for the red card,” fumed Southend boss Brown.

“The fourth of­fi­cial is stand­ing about a yard away from the in­ci­dent and is telling ev­ery­one he didn’t think it was a red card so why can’t he say that to the ref as well?

“We also had two bla­tant penal­ties turned down and I wish the ref could come out and ex­plain those de­ci­sions to us.

“But we haven’t lost the game be­cause of him, we’ve lost be­cause we played poorly.”

STAR MAN SAM CLUCA

S Mansfi

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