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Mansfield claim narrow win over Northampton in first leg of League Two play-off semi-final

By Pa Sport Staff
PA Wire

Mansfield take a slender 2-1 lead into the second leg of the League Two play-off semi-finals after a superb battle with Northampton at the One Call Stadium.

First-half goals from top scorer Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery saw Mansfield 2-0 up and sitting pretty by the interval, but Ali Koiki’s reply after 61 minutes has left the tie in the balance.

Mansfield carved out the first chance of the game after five minutes as Jamie Murphy found Stephen McLaughlin on the left and his low drilled cross passed inches in front of the outstretched leg of Oates as he slid in.

At the other end, home keeper Nathan Bishop was forced to dive to his right to turn aside a superb 25-yard effort from Louis Appere in the 11th minute.

But the home side grabbed the lead two minutes later. McLaughlin laid the ball off to Bowery who sent a cutting pass to Oates, coming into the right-hand side of the box, and he buried a low shot under the body of keeper Jonny Maxted.

The home side then doubled their lead after 32 minutes through Bowery.

Newcastle loanee Matty Longstaff switched the play to the left with a great ball in front of Jamie Murphy. He got to the byline and drilled the ball hard across goal and Bowery was there to bury a finish at the far post.

Three minutes later Oates tried to go it alone on the left but his low shot from distance was wide as Stags went in at half-time in control.

Oates almost made it 3-0 just three minutes into the second half as he turned his man neatly with a great first touch from James Perch’s pass and forced Maxted to make a great save from his powerful finish.

Sam Hoskins was not far away from pulling one back in the 53rd minute as he tried to curl a 25-yard finish across Bishop from the left but saw his shot go just wide of the far post.

However, Northampton were back in the tie just after the hour mark.

Breaking quickly down the centre, Mitch Pinnock passed to Appere who found Koiki on the edge of the box, and he tucked away a low finish which took a deflection on its way past Bishop.

Northampton continued to press and John-Joe O’Toole made a great block to deny Hoskins with Josh Eppiah’s close-range follow-up deflecting inches over for a corner from which Fraser Horsfall headed wide.

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Dive Deeper:
Jon Brady believes momentum is with Northampton as they look to home comforts
Mansfield lead 2-1 from the first leg of their play-off semi-finals.
Chelsea 3-2 Manchester City (aet): Women’s FA Cup final – as it happened
Sam Kerr’s deflected strike settled a classic match, played in front of a record crowd, and sealed Chelsea’s third Double…
Inverness Caley Thistle end Arbroath fairytale to reach Premiership play off final but Willie Collum takes centre stage
Billy Dodds' side were reduced to nine men but prevailed on penalties after a gruelling 120 minutes at Gayfield.
Manchester United loan watch as James Garner closes in on Wembley, Amad handed rare start
Manchester United's loanees will be making a late push to impress incoming manager Erik ten Hag as the season draws…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Man City defy their own history to grab vital Premier League point at West Ham
Second-half comeback was almost completed but Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty to ensure the spoils were shared
Tottenham player ratings: Sessegnon superb as Dier, Davies and Sanchez impress in win vs Burnley
Here are our Tottenham Hotspur player ratings after the 1-0 win against Burnley that saw Antonio Conte's men climb up…
Get all your news in one place