Mansfield 1 Fleetwood 0

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Illness and carelessness in equal measure proved costly for Fleetwood as their promotion push ground to a halt at Mansfield.

Town, with three forced changes, including both full backs, couldn’t make the most of a bright start, failing to test Alan Marriott in the Mansfield goal.

And, as the first half progressed Fleetwood gradually became more direct, spurning width in favour of long balls aimed at Jon Parkin, the big striker doing his best to distribute under intense Stags pressure.

That trepidation to play the ball wide might have stemmed from the fact Fleetwood were being skinned down their own flanks, Liam Hogan given a particularly torrid time.

It certainly wasn’t vintage stuff and Mansfield took advantage on the half hour.

A scrambled corner, a static defence, Matt Rhead rising to head into the bottom corner, Chris Maxwell getting a hand but unable to scoop it out.

It could have been worse, Rhead allowed another free header before the half was up, Fleetwood unable to handle Colin Daniel and Lee Stevenson, Sam Clucas a menace in central areas.

Half time was a blessed relief and the introduction of Matty Hughes for the second 45 minutes was something of a tonic for Town who showed more attacking intent but still lacked a killer delivery.

Antoni Sarcevic’s shot was tipped over, Liam Hogan drew a fine save from Marriot, but Fleetwood were still well below their best.

And they were very nearly sunk with 15 minutes remaining.

Another corner, another static defence, Ritchie Sutton this time with the header, Chris Maxwell with a superb reaction save.

Rhead should have put it beyond doubt from another Stags corner two minutes later, his shot confidently held my Maxwell.

Town thought they’d rescued a point when Jon Parkin got a toe on the end of Charlie Taylor’s clever ball, the woodwork denying Fleetwood.

Sarcevic was then denied by a sliding challenge from Daniel as Fleetwood ralled after the introduction of Taylor, the Stags clinging on in the closing stages.

Town had left it too late to turn up the heat, their hopes of staying out of the melting pot that is the playoffs taking a big blow.