Mans­field boys earn ova­tion from boss

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tim Mor­riss

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

S Mansfi

eld

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