Stags press promotion claims as Forest Green come unstuck
Forest Green Rovers 1
Mansfield Town 2
SHEER endeavour was not enough for Forest Green as Mansfield left rain-drenched Nailsworth with an incredible ninth straight win.
Luckless Eddie Oshodi put through his own net in the 29th minute to hand the in-form visitors the initiative, and when Lee Stevenson doubled the lead at the start of the second half the task became insurmountable.
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James Norwood reduced the arrears on 87 minutes, but the Stags look the real deal for automatic promotion and saw their task through.
Loanees Yemi Odubade and Wes Burns were both making their first Rovers starts after scoring as substitutes three days earlier, and the latter sliced an early shot wide after being put through by Kieron Forbes.
On 15 minutes Forbes embarked on a surging run from deep, but once again the finish did not match the build-up as he scuffed weakly at Stags keeper Alan Marriott.
Mansfield boss Paul Cox was clearly unimpressed by his side's start to the contest, making a tactical change inside 27 minutes in the shape of Louis Briscoe for Adam Chapman.
Two minutes later his side were in front, although a huge slice of fortune came into play as Lindon Meikle's shot was diverted on target by Oshodi's outstretched leg and defeated the helplessly wrong-footed Sam Russell.
A few sagging shoulders in the home ranks would have been understandable, but they responded to the setback in encouraging fashion and Burns forced a sharp near-post stop by Marriott.
Less encouraging for the New Lawn faithful was the immediate impact of Briscoe, whose shot on the turn from the edge of the area appeared to swerve wickedly and had to be helped awkwardly around the post by Russell.
The resulting corner was nodded wide at the far post by ex-Rover Luke Jones, and Cox's men came even closer in first-half stoppage time when Jones saw a wind-assisted header scrape the crossbar with Russell floundering.
It seemed the break would be coming at a good time for Dave Hockaday's side, but sloppy play two minutes after the restart saw the ball presented to Matt Green 30 yards out and he fed it through for Stevenson to finish tidily.
Norwood tried to respond with a dipping shot that narrowly missed the top corner, and moments later he was picked out by Burns and let fly with a 25-yarder that cannoned off the bar.
Forest Green kept plugging away, and on-loan Bristol City teenager Burns showed his class with a jink inside the box before bending a shot wide with the outside of his right boot.
Burns looked to be Rovers' best hope of a comeback, and he brought a smart low save from Marriott with 15 minutes remaining.
A scramble from a corner saw Chris Stokes contrive to prod over from close range, and a rapid break ended in a Norwood shot that posed no problem for Marriott.
Rovers' efforts looked destined to go unrewarded, but with three minutes left Paul Green bustled his way into a packed area and the ball broke for Norwood to roll home his 16th goal of the season.
Forest Green: S Russell; J Hodgkiss, E Oshodi, A Racine, C Stokes; P Green, A Bangura (Y Klukowski 60), K Forbes; J Norwood, Y Odubade (M Taylor 53), W Burns (L Fowler 83). Subs not used: E Asafu-Adjaye, D Bennett.
Mansfield Town: A Marriott; L Beevers, L Jones, J Dempster, J Jennings; A Chapman, A Murray, L Stevenson (A Howell 65); L Meikle, M Green (M Rhead 76), C Daniel (L Briscoe 27). Subs not used: R Sutton, N Wright.
Referee: W Barratt (Worcs)
Star man: Wes Burns