Mansfield Town 3-2 Hartlepool United: Pools surrender two goal lead at Mansfield

Hartlepool United surrendered a two goal lead against Mansfield Town as Graeme Lee tasted defeat for the first time as manager.

By Joe Ramage
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 5:37 pm

Pools went in front against the run of play when Luke Molyneux expertly finished Matty Daly’s cross.

And Lee’s side looked to be on their way to just their second away win in league this season when captain Nicky Featherstone doubled the lead with a well taken finish from the edge of the area.

But Nigel Clough’s Mansfield are the form side in League Two for a reason and they showed why here with a stunning 11 minute turnaround through goals from John-Joe O’Toole, Jordan Bowery and George Maris.

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Luke Molyneux celebrates his goal against Mansfield Town. (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

Pools almost rescued an unlikely point at that stage deep into stoppage time when substitute Gavan Holohan finished from David Ferguson’s freekick only to be denied by the officials.

Pools made one change to the side who drew with Scunthorpe United as Daly returned in place of Tom Crawford.

Daly escaped after O’Toole robbed him of possession on the edge of the area with the midfielder's effort deflecting wide for a corner.

Then came the moment all Pools fans didn’t want to see as Elliott Hewitt broke clear down the right and looked to have put it on a plate for former striker Rhys Oates at the back post but Timi Odusina did just enough to thwart the Stags frontman.

Jason Law and Farrend Rawson were both off target as the Stags dominated.

Pools had Gary Liddle to thank in the 23rd minute when he got back on the line to clear Bowery’s header away before the visitors hit the front foot.

Ferguson played into the path of Daly who had time and space to pick out his man and his pass found the on-rushing Molyneux from 12 yards who was able to sweep the ball home into the far corner.

Oates had the chance to level things just before the break when Law slipped a pass inbetween Odusina and Neill Byrne but the ex-Pools man clipped his effort wide of the post.

Lee’s side started the second half in the perfect manner when Ferguson sent over a teasing freekick which Bishop could only fumble into the path of Liddle.

Liddle adjusted to strike on goal only for Bishop to save before the ball rebounded to Featherstone and the Pools captain powered home first time in front of the travelling fans.

But their two goal lead lasted just four minutes as the Stags clawed their way back into the game through O’Toole who headed in from Maris’ corner.

And the Stags were back on level terms within seven minutes as Hewitt found space on the right and was able to skip by Featherstone before delivering a perfect cross for Bowery who glanced beyond Ben Killip.

But Nigel Clough’s side weren’t done there as they completed their turnaround moments later through Maris who whipped an inviting ball in first time from the left which evaded everyone in the penalty area and found its way into the far corner.

And Pools were robbed of a late equaliser, the Holohan effort ruled out for offside.

Mansfield Town XI: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins ©, McLaughin, O’Toole, Maris (Sinclair ‘81), Stirk, Law, Oates, Bowery

Subs: Stech, Burke, Ward, Sinclair, Gale

Hartlepool United XI: Killip, Sterry (Ogle ‘53), Odusina, Liddle, Byrne, Ferguson, Featherstone, Shelton, Daly (Holohan ‘76), Cullen (Burey ‘63, Molyneux

Subs: Mitchell, Francis-Angol, Smith, Cook

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