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On the whistle: Forest Green 0 Mansfield Town 4 – another nail in Rovers’ relegation coffin

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League Two

Forest Green 0

Mansfield Town 4

Forest Green are facing an inglorious return to the National League after title-chasing Mansfield put another nail in the coffin.

Rovers were far from abject and at times played with a swagger that belied their bottom of the table billing, but they simply had no answer to Ollie Clarke’s first-half strike and  goals after the break from Tom Nichols, Will Swan and a late second for Clarke – leaving the Nailsworth side nine points shy of safety and a step closer to the drop.

A breathless opening saw Christian Doidge, on his New Lawn homecoming, and January window capture Emmanuel Osadebe –  test the early defensive resolve of Mansfield.

However, it was Nigel Clough’s Mansfield, who broke the stalemate on 11 minutes – Clarke’s right-footed fizzer rippled the back of Luke Daniels’ net  from skipper Aden Flint’s header.

Despite their fragility, Rovers responded – Matty Stevens found space to induce a plunging save from Christy Pym. Flint’s defensive header almost found his own net after Fankaty Dabo clipped over a delicious  cross into the box.

Rovers were looking a team far from rooted at the bottom of the table with Craig McAllister and Dabo pulling the strings as Steve Cotterill’s side became increasingly easy on the eye.

From the second-half get-go, Rovers were caught cold – Will Swan teed-up George Maris who skewed over.

Looking for parity, McAllister’s impish stab from the edge of the box forced Pym to gather. 

Crucially, Rovers lost keeper Daniels on the hour – his brave dash to deny firstly Clarke and then  Swan saw the Rovers’ keeper stretchered off to be replaced by Jamie Searle.

Rovers huffed and puffed – Osadebe stinging the gloves of Pym. 

With 21 minutes to go, Nichols found space in the box to slash the ball across Searle to add a second for the Stags. The impressive Swan made it a game over third on 78 minutes as Rovers collapsed.

Deep into nine minutes of added-time, Pym superbly denied McAllister late consolation.

Clarke’s 97th minute fourth added further salt into Rovers’ wounds.

Forest Green: Daniels (Searle 61), Robson, Keogh, Inniss; Thompson (Bernard 73), McCann, Osadebe, Dabo (Jones 73), McAllister; Doidge, Stevens (Omotoye 84) 

Booked: Osadebe, 16, Thompson, 54,

Subs: Bunker, Oyedele, Brown

Mansfield Town: Pym, Clarke, Bowery, Maris, Flint, Nichols, Williams, Brunt, Reed, Swan, Kellor-Dunn

Subs: Flinders, McLaughlin, Akins, Lewis, Quinn, Cargill, Boateng

Referee: Mr Singh-Gill

Star Man: Craig McAllister

Attendance: 2,240

Away fans: 604

Next up: Rovers travel to Barrow on Tuesday.

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