Away-day delight as improved Mansfield Town hit form to sink Macclesfield
MANSFIELD Town arrived in Macclesfield with the joint worst away record in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
To put that into context, they shared it with bottom club Nuneaton, with just five points from their eight games.
Last night was a chance to claim just a second away league win, as they made the trip over the Cat and Fiddle for their re-arranged game, after the original fixture was washed out in September.
They boast the best home record in the division, so it is easy to pinpoint where they need to improve if they are to get among the promotion mix.
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And last night, they finally got back into the groove on the road as Matt Green netted his second goal in three days before Lindon Meikle and Luke Jones made sure of the points in the second-half in a solid 3-0 victory.
Mansfield boss Paul Cox made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Luton Town on Sunday.
Defender Exodus Geohaghon served his one-match ban, while midfielder Anthony Howell was not risked because of a knee injury. Striker Nick Wright was carrying a slight knock and dropped to the bench.
In came Jones, skipper Adam Murray and Green, who started as a reward for his late equaliser at the weekend after coming off the bench.
It was a quiet opening but in the ninth minute, Murray was strong to win the ball back on the halfway line and he weighted a pinpoint ball down the left flank for Green.
The striker cut in and then back out of his marker inside the box but lifted his shot over the bar.
Macclesfield looked to get on the front foot when Keiran Murtagh burst forward through the centre and fed Charlie Henry down the right of the box but Shane Redmond got down to save his low strike.
Ryan Jackson gave away a terrible ball straight to Green who burst forward, to the right of the central defender into the box but Lance Cronin, diving to his left, turned away the driven shot for a corner.
Out of nothing, Macclesfield's Sam Wedgbury struck a 35-yard effort that was moving all over the place but Redmond managed to palm away and grab at the second attempt.
Louis Briscoe saw a free-kick deflected behind for a corner and from it, on 39 minutes, Chris Clements floated it in from the left and Green rose, unchallenged, inside the six-yard box to head home.
The hosts almost equalised when a ball was cut back from the left for Henry, whose rising shot was turned over the bar by Redmond.
Six minutes into the second half, Jackson played another awful back pass straight to Green to put him in on goal and, bizarrely, the assistant referee flagged for offside.
But the referee ignored the flag only for Green to wildly blaze his shot wide of goal.
Meikle then displayed his skill as he skipped by two men, cut back and then danced his way through two more players before stinging the hands of Cronin with his 20-yard shot and Clements then dipped an effort just over from distance.
Jack Mackreth, just on as a substitute, delivered a superb ball from the right to find the unmarked Chris Holroyd at the back post, with time on his hands, but he placed a soft header straight at Redmond to give the Stags a huge let off.
On 66 minutes, Mansfield doubled their advantage with a well-worked goal. Green capitalised on a poor touch from Kieran Charnock and got down the right of the box, pulled it back to Briscoe who showed a great turn of pace and control to get past a defender to the byline before firing across the six-yard box for the onrushing Meikle to hammer in from close range.
Speight replaced Green on 74 minutes for Mansfield but it was Luke Jones who got the third goal as he met a Clements corner two minutes from time and Cronin's hand failed to take the sting out of the header as it went over the line.
Macclesfield: Cronin, Jackson, Braham-Barrett, Charnock, Henry (Mackreth, 60), Martin, Murtagh, Wedgbury, Kissock, Barnes-Homer (Morgan-Smith, 72), Holroyd. Subs: Winn, Diagne, Fairhurst.
Mansfield: Redmond, Thompson, Beevers, Sutton, Jones, Briscoe (Daniel, 84), Murray, Clements, Meikle, Hutchinson (Stevenson, 82), Green (Speight, 74). Subs: Rhead, Wright.
Referee: Karl Evans (Greater Manchester)
Attendance: 1,272 (202 visitors)
Leigh Franks gave Alfreton the lead at Hyde in the 39th minute but former Premier League player Phil Jevons levelled it up just before the break.
Just 444 fans watched the game at Ewen Fields.