Hayes & Yeading United’s fight for survival took another downward slip against high flying Mansfield Town as the Stags went away with all three points to cement their place in this season's play-offs.
Nas Bashir made one enforced change from the starting line-up at Kenilworth Road, with Aiden O'Brien returning to Millwall at the end of his loan, Phil Walsh came in to add some height to the United attack. And it was Walsh who saw the first opening, Jamie Hand's free-kick being brought down by Daniel Wishart who slipped it to his strike partner but his effort was deflected wide.
Just a minute later though the visiting Stags were in front as a Steve Arnold clearance was fired straight back at the United defence where it was collected by the prolific Matt Green. He advanced into the area on the left side before unselfishly rolling the ball to the on-coming Anthony Howell who side footed it smartly past Arnold into the bottom corner.
After this set back it took United a while to get back on their feet although the Stags for all their possession didn't really trouble Arnold that much up to the midway point in the half. At this stage, United started to really get themselves back into the game, Walsh rose highest to a Tom Cadmore free-kick but Stags keeper Alan Marriott caught comfortably while at the other end, Gary Roberts' free-kick was sent back in at the far post by Lindon Meikle but Howell showed less composure this time and blasted over.
Eight minutes before the break, United netted a deserved equaliser in which Cadmore's dead ball skills were again a major factor. Cadmore, making his 200th start for United, fired a free-kick from just inside his own half to Walsh on the far side of the box. Walsh flicked the ball on to the diminutive Piero Mingoia who dragged the ball down and with quick feet slid it past Marriott's dive.
Hand and Walsh then combined to create an opening for Luke Williams but he fired wide before the visiting Stags finished the half the stronger as Ben Hutchinson first drew a fine diving save from Arnold and then in stoppage time hit a 25 yard shot that only just cleared the crossbar.
Eight minutes after the break saw a good chance for United to take the lead. Hand chipped the ball smartly over man mountain Exodus Geohaghon, Walsh beat Marriott to the ball but his lobbed effort was too high. United continued to look the more dangerous and as the hour mark approached Pelé swung a cross in from the right side that the Stags defence appeared to let go, Mark Bentley meeting the ball at the far post but his header back across the face of the Stags goal went agonisingly wide of the target.
Then midway through the half a five minute period spelled disaster for the home side as Mansfield found the net twice. On 67 minutes, Luke O'Neill fired a free-kick into the area, Hand's miscued clearance going straight up into the air as falling to Ross Dyer who planted a perfect half volley into the top corner despite Arnold's best efforts to reach it.
Five minutes later it was 3-1 as Green beat the offside trap to run onto Marriott's long punt, rounding Arnold before placing the ball perfectly into the vacant net from an acute angle.
The final five minutes saw United holding on somewhat as the Stags continued to push for a fourth or more. Green played in Roberts only to be denied by Arnold's outstretched legs as Sam Argent cleared up. Less than a minute later substitute Louis Briscoe received a free-kick on the left of the area, moving past Argent and hitting a shot that Arnold touched onto the post and out for a corner.
A chance apiece came in stoppage time with both keepers being called into action. Briscoe again worked space in the United area only to be denied by Arnold who touched the ball wide with his legs. At the other end, United substitute Julian Owusu moved onto a long Cadmore pass and hit a first time volley that Marriott spectacularly pushed wide one handed diving high to his right.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Sam Argent.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.