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Town Beat Mansfield 3 -1

Harrogate Town moved top of SkyBet League Two after coming from behind to beat Mansfield 3-1 at the One Call Stadium.

In a frantic opening five minutes, Town fell behind to Rhys Oates, but a powerful Luke Armstrong header soon got them back on level terms.
Jack Muldoon put Town ahead in first half stoppage time, with the hosts reduced to nine men midway through the second half as both Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn were shown straight red cards.
George Thomson claimed Town’s third to put the result beyond doubt and secure a second 3-1 win over the Stags in a week.
Simon Weaver made eight changes from Tuesday night’s Papa John’s Trophy win as Jack Diamond went straight into the starting XI following his Deadline Day arrival.
There were changes aplenty in the home ranks too, with Nigel Clough making ten changes from midweek, including a debut for Richard Nartey.
Despite the changes, the contest saw the same attacking intent shown by both sides from the off with two goals in the opening five minutes.
First, Rhys Oates claimed his fourth of the season to put the hosts ahead, sweeping in at the back post to finish Stephen Mclaughlin’s deep free kick.
The lead lasted just two minutes though with Armstrong also netting for the fourth time this campaign as the centre forward powered in a header from George Thomson’s corner.
The hoists responded well to seeing their lead evaporate, but couldn’t get themselves back in front despite a few attempts from distance.
The next chance of the game fell Town’s way in the 25th minute with Lewis Page’s corner falling to Alex Pattison just inside the area, but his finish was kept out by the legs of Nathan Bishop.
Armstrong went close for Town, while Mark Oxley did well to keep out McLaughlin’s free kick as the tie looked to be heading into the interval all square, until two minutes into first half stoppage time…
Alex Pattison beat his man on the right wing before crossing towards Armstrong, whose flick was pounced upon by strike partner Muldoon and diverted past the helpless keeper.
Armstrong continued to be heavily involved at the start of the second half, before Town were forced into some defending, Page making an important block from Kellan Gordon.
After a spell of Mansfield pressure, Town hit on the break with Diamond carrying the ball down the left, beating one, before being dragged to the ground by last man Ollie Clarke, who was rightly given his marching orders.
Mansfield were reduced to nine men in the aftermath of the goal with Stephen Quinn lashing out at a Town player, having been lucky to escape action for a stamp on Warren Burrell earlier on.
Now with a two man advantage, Town were creating chances, but found Mansfield stopper Bishop in fine form to deny Muldoon and Armstrong a second of the afternoon.
Bishop couldn’t stop Town getting a third in the 82nd minute though, Thomson getting in on the act to turn Page’s corner in at the near post and put the result beyond doubt.
The result put Town top of the SkyBet League Two table, with a game in hand on those around them.
Town: Oxley, Page, Falkingham (Kerry 76), Burrell, Thomson, Pattison (Power 84), Muldoon (Orsi 87), Hall, Diamond, McArdle, Armstrong
Subs not used: Cracknell, Fallowfield, Martin, Power
Goals: Armstrong 5, Muldoon 45+2, Thomson 82
Booked: Page, Burrell, Falkingham, Diamond
Mansfield: Bishop, Gordon, Nartey, Hewitt, Mclaughlin, Maris, O. Clarke, Quinn, Lapslie (Johnson 68), Oates (Rawson 76), Hawkins (Bowery 82)
Subs not used: Shelvey, Burke, Sinclair, Stirk
Goals: Oates 3
Booked: Nartey, Gordon, Lapslie, Maris
Sent off: Clarke, Quinn
Referee: P Howard
Attendance: 4,599 (155 away)

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