Louis Briscoe blast a tonic for Mansfield Town
FOLLOWING his terrorising display in the weekend victory against Cambridge, Louis Briscoe was full of confidence.
But, the Mansfield Town man added that he wanted, in fact he needed, a goal. It had been too long.
And last night, on an evening of one-way traffic for much of the match, the winger's devastating display finally got the goal he deserved and his first strike in ten games was the difference as the Stags saw off Hyde 1-0.
On another day, it could have been a scoreline to rival the 5-0 thrashing of Dartford or 8-1 against Barrow, such was the Stags' dominance during long periods over a side depleted by injury and illness.
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Yet, a lack of cutting edge in the final third held them back until Briscoe's speculative but stunning strike 14 seconds into the second half proved the breakthrough.
And, in the end, it was to be both vital and decisive. It was his first goal since the winner against Lincoln in the FA Cup second round replay back on December 12 that sealed the three points, as the Stags also survived a late scare before recording a sixth victory in seven league matches that ensured not just the play-offs, but top spot, is well and truly on the radar.
Stags boss Paul Cox named the same side and substitutes ' for the fourth successive match.
And while they dominated the first 45 minutes, they could not find the killer touch to make the breakthrough as the half ended goalless.
There was a chance in the opening few minutes when Briscoe's looping ball over the top released Matt Green, who from the edge of the box, teed up the onrushing Colin Daniel to the left of him but his drilled first-time effort was well blocked by Kelvin Lomax.
But then at the other end Louis Almond played a superb one-two to be played in behind the defence but James Jennings' produced a superb last-ditch interception just as the Hyde man was about to pull the trigger from six yards.
From that point on, all the chances would fall to the Stags as first Lee Beevers fed Briscoe on the right and he flashed a low shot across goal, but wide of the far post, and then Green bought himself half a yard on the edge of the box for a shot but Chris Dilo got down well to his left to save.
Daniel won a free kick on the left corner of the 18-yard-box on 22 minutes to produce an opportunity for the visitors but Jennings, whose set-pieces had been so good since joining from Cambridge, ballooned it over.
But a couple of minutes later, Jennings put in a pinpoint delivery from a corner finding the head of Luke Jones, but the defender planted his effort over the bar.
On the half-hour, Howell threaded a great ball to release Green to stretch the line and when he pulled back to Stevenson, he struck it first time but Dilo held the stinging shot.
Stags were struggling to find the clear-cut chances to open the scoring and Jones met a Beevers long throw at the near post, but couldn't steer it on target as the frustration grew.
On 42 minutes that killer chance came as Beevers robbed Shay McCartan of the ball, whipped in a pinpoint inswinging cross through the defence to the back post where the unmarked Daniel waited for it to sit nicely but from inside the box, with nobody close, he struck it wide of the far post.
But 14 seconds into the second half, Stags had the lead when from wide on the right of the box, Briscoe fired a left-footed effort straight into the far top corner catching everybody by surprise, especially the fans still returning to their seats.
Then Green got a sight of goal, put through by Daniel, and after getting it onto his left foot, he put a powerful effort inches wide of the post.
And then on 51 minutes Jennings whipped in a cross from the left and on the opposite side of the box, Briscoe looped a header over the goalkeeper only to see it crash back down off the bar.
It was then Daniel who produced a stunning touch to control a long pass forward, skip beyond the defence only to be denied by an acrobatic save from Dilo as Stags looked to give themselves a cushion.
And from the resulting corner, John Dempster appeared to be hauled to the ground in front of the referee's nose but play was waved on.
Just to remind the Stags it was not going to be all one-way traffic, Scott Spencer cut in front the right of the box before flashing a left-footed shot just over the bar before Green, at the other end, used his pace to get in between two defenders to the near post but Dilo, on loan from Blackburn, produced another save with his legs.
However, Stags had a huge let- off when Grant Spencer got to the byline on the right and flashed the ball across the face of goal but none of his team-mates were there to get the decisive touch.
The pressure continued on the visitors as Marriott came to punch clear a dangerous free kick, made a hash of it and was rescued by defender Jones who hooked clear off the line.
Mansfield's Anthony slid the ball the wrong side of the far post late on as the visitors saw it out to notch a deserved win.
Referee: Anthony Backhouse (Cumbria). The official booked Louis Briscoe in the first half, somewhat bizarrely for pulling an opponent's shirt, when his hands were no way near the man. Waved away John Dempster's call for a penalty too, when the defender looked to be fouled. So not a favourite among the Stags' travelling supporters.
Man of the match: Louis Briscoe. The right winger continued where he left off from the weekend as he constantly got at Hyde full-back Adam Griffin, got the goal and also hit the bar with a header. A threat during most of the evening.
Hyde: Dilo, Lomax, Griffin, Anderson, Ashworth, Brown (Jevons, 74), Sedgwick, Cassidy, S Spencer (Brizell, 80), Almond, McCartan (G Spencer, 44). Subs: McNiven, Carnell.
Mansfield: Marriott, Beevers, Jennings, Jones, Dempster, Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Daniel (Meikle, 85), Stevenson, Green (Wright, 89). Subs: Rhead, Clements, Sutton.
RESULTS: Barrow 2 Woking 0; Braintree 2 Grimsby 0; Ebbsfleet 1 Hereford 0; Forest Green 0 Kidderminster 1; Gateshead 0 Wrexham 1; Hyde 0 Mansfield 1; Macclesfield 1 Luton 1; Nuneaton 1 Alfreton 0; Stockport 0 Tamworth 1.