Mansfield boys earn ovation from boss
STAGS manager Adam Murray heaped praise on his young guns, who battled for 89 minutes with ten men as managerless Portsmouth ended a run of three defeats with a first league win over Mansfield.
The game started as a celebration for home defender Richie Sutton, who received three player-of-the-season awards.
But it quickly ended in disappointment when he was red-carded after 50 seconds for a foul on Jed Wallace as the midfielder looked certain to score.
Matt Tubbs netted the resulting penalty as Mansfield, who had given youth a chance in a team with an average age of 23, were forced to reshuffle.
Home debutant Joe Fitzpatrick, 17, switched from midfield to defence and worked hard to deny Tubbs and Craig Westcarr as Pompey dominated possession.
Indeed, Mansfield created the better chances, including a first goal for 18-year-old Jack Thomas.
Murray said :“All credit to the young boys. They were superb and couldn't have done any more. It was a great experience for them and today was a glimpse of what’s to come.
“It was another ridiculous performance from Jack. I said to him before the game he was due a goal after all his good performances and he scored the goal of the season. He should be an inspiration to everyone.
“For Joe, it was daunting enough to be playing in his own position, so to go out there and do a job like that in defence after 90 seconds was superb.”
The Stags three times went close to an equaliser from Matt Rhead flickons. Thomas and Rakish Bingham fired wide and keeper Paul Jones kept out Bingham’s finish from point-blank range.
At the start of the second half, Junior Brown’s first-time shot was parried by Jones, before Dan Butler blocked Rhead’s follow-up.
Portsmouth doubled their lead with a fortunate goal. Jed Wallace’s 55thminute drive looked to be a routine save for Pidgeley, but it bounced off a divot over the diving keeper.
Mansfield’s ten men refused to give up and Thomas curled in from 25 yards, but Portsmouth hung on to end a run of three successive defeats.
Caretaker manager Gary Waddock said: “We played extremely well in the first half and controlled the game.
“We identified an area where we could get at them and it worked straight away with the penalty.
“I was pleased with the first half, but we made it harder for ourselves in the second..
“With the amount of possession we had, we didn’t create enough chances. That was the one disappointing thing.”
STAR MAN JACK THOMA