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REPORT | Wrexham AFC 2-0 Mansfield Town

Red Dragons claim vital win in battle for promotion

29 March 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Wrexham AFC 2-0 Mansfield Town

Red Dragons claim vital win in battle for promotion

29 March 2024

Wrexham AFC gave their promotion hopes a massive boost, as Paul Mullin’s double earned a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Mansfield Town at the STōK Cae Ras.

Mullin opened the scoring after 32 minutes, as a defensive mix-up from the Stags allowed Wrexham’s number ten to break the deadlock with a well-timed finish at the back post.

The forward then wrapped up victory from the spot in the 68th minute, as Mullin smashed home to record his 99th goal for the Club.

On a day where Stockport moved back to the summit of Sky Bet League Two, Wrexham’s victory moves them level on points with the Stags and sets up a thrilling final six league matches of the 2023/24 campaign.

Phil Parkinson named one change to the side that claimed a 3-1 win over Grimsby last weekend, as James McClean returned from suspension and replaced Jacob Mendy, who picked up an injury at Blundell Park.

As expected, given the magnitude of the match, both teams sternly contested the opening stages at an impressive intensity in front of the Sky cameras.

While both sides battled away swiftly, James McClean, who had only just returned from suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards this season, was booked in the 3rd minute.

Challenges flew in swiftly in North Wales, with neither Wrexham nor Mansfield wanting to give their opponents any chance to grow into the fixture.

Elliot Lee fired an early warning in the opening stages, as he attempted an audacious bicycle-kick which was caught by Christy Pym in the fifth minute.

The first half was largely affected by the ever-changing conditions at the SToK Cae Ras, often going from blistering sunlight to torrential rain and everything in-between, before the weather eventually settled.

Nigel Clough’s side almost broke the deadlock after 27 minutes, and they might’ve succeeded, had it not been for Max Cleworth’s last-minute challenge on Will Swan to deny the forward from firing a close-range effort at Arthur Okonkwo.

While Mansfield provided a stern test in the opening half hour, it was inevitable that Wrexham talisman Paul Mullin broke the deadlock in a game of such importance in the race for promotion.

Andy Cannon shifted forwards down the right-flank, latching onto a perfectly weighted through pass, before firing a low cross into Mansfield’s box with 32 minutes played.

It seemed that Lewis Brunt was in an ample position to clear the effort, but he failed to connect with the cross just like his captain Aden Flint.  

That failure left Mullin to calmly fire first-time into the bottom corner, sparking celebrations in front of the Temporary Kop Fourth Wall.

Three minutes were added on prior to the interval, but neither side could add any further goals at the STōK Cae Ras prior to half time.

Mansfield made a double substitution at the break, as the Stags looked to recover from Mullin’s first-half blow.

The Stags had a goal disallowed in the 61st minute, as Davis Keillor-Dunn looked to have rounded Okonkwo and fired into the net – but the forward had kicked the ball out of the Wrexham keeper’s hands in the build-up.

Wrexham then took the initiative and found a crucial second goal just six minutes later, giving Parkinson’s side much needed breathing space in the fixture.

Luke Bolton caused the opposition a plethora of issues down the right-flank, and he was brought down by Jordan Bowery in the Mansfield box.

After much deliberation, Lewis Smith pointed to the spot, much to the delight of the Wrexham faithful.

Mullin stepped up to take the spot-kick, and after a brief pause to compose himself, the striker smashed the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Christy Pym with no chance as he doubled the Red Dragons’ advantage.

Wrexham almost extended their lead to three goals in the 78th minute, as an outstretched Steven Fletcher managed to get on the end of a brilliant ball towards the back post, but he couldn’t quite get his effort under control and on target.

The fourth official indicated another five minutes to be added, but it didn’t matter, as a stern effort from both ends of the pitch gave Wrexham a clean sheet to go with victory - which could be crucial come the end of the 2023/24 Sky Bet League Two campaign.

Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo (GK), Cleworth, O'Connell, Boyle, Bolton (Barnett 74’), O'Connor, Cannon, Lee (Evans 88’), McClean, Mullin (C) (Marriott 88’), Palmer (Fletcher 74’).

Subs not used: Howard, McFadzean, Dalby.

Mansfield Town: Pym, Hewitt (McLaughlin 8’), Flint (C), Brunt (Nichols 46’), Bowery, Reed, Lewis, Clarke (Maris 68’), Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 68’), Akins, Swan (Gale 46’).

Subs not used: Flinders, Quinn.

Match Attendance: 12,494 (1,147 Away)


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