Mansfield Town 2

Forest Green 0

FOREST GREEN boss Mark Cooper remained calmness personified despite admitting his side conceded two poor goals in a second-half implosion at League Two title favourites Mansfield Town.

Rovers looked comfy at the break, but Mansfield urged on by former Leeds United boss Steve Evans, upped the tempo to sting Cooper’s side with strikes from Danny Rose on 51 minutes and a Paul Anderson goal just six minutes later.

Cooper cut a chipper figure at the break, and said: “We started well and had all of the ball and they were chasing us. We got to half-time quite comfortable, but without having too much threat in the final third.”

And Rovers’ boss pointed the finger of blame at his defence - the Stags came flying out of the starting blocks.

“We spoke at half-time that they would come after us in the first 10 minutes and the goals we have given away were really poor,” admitted Cooper.

“One was a sort of a swing of a cross into the box and a free header from 15 yards, which we need to defend better and the second one saw us get caught on the halfway line and give them a one- v-one, so poor defending for the two goals makes it difficult to comeback.”

Earlier, Cooper made one tweak to the team that opened their League Two debut season with a point against Barnet last weekend.

Calum Evans dropped to the bench and West Brom loanee Jack Fitzwater, so impressive in the extra-time defeat to MK Dons, came in for his league debut in a back three.

Mansfield are Cooper’s promotion bet, and the Rovers’ boss would have been spitting feathers when his side offered the Stags a fifth-minute gift-wrapped opportunity. Lee Collins, on his return to his old stamping ground, almost pressed the self-destruct button as he inexplicably presented the ball to Lee Angol, who fizzed his shot into the chest of a relieved keeper Brad Collins. However, Lee Collins quickly atoned his blip with a meaty tackle on Danny Rose.

It was nip-and-tuck, but Mansfield came close to a 29th minute opener. Joe Byrom arrowed over a corner and Paul Digby’s downward header was beaten away by the alert Brad Collins.

Backed by a vociferous home crowd, Mansfield were growing into the game, with Rovers toiling somewhat. The match was far from feisty but Rovers’ captain Liam Noble incurred a 35th-minute yellow for a frustrated nibble at Hayden White. Four minutes later Brad Collins was brandished a card for time wasting.

Rovers were feeding off scraps, but were a whisker away from snatching one on the cusp of the break. Reece Brown chased down a Noble punt and saw Krystian Pearce and Conrad Logan get in a tangle before Logan clawed the ball back.

The Stags threatened earlier on – Danny Rose arching one over, but seconds later he was on the button – fizzing in on 51 minutes from a Will Atkinson cross. Tails were wagging for the Stags – Rose cutting through Rovers’ defence to force a flying parry from Brad Collins and a goaline clearance from Dale Bennett.

Rovers were rocked as Anderson made it 2-0 six minutes after their opener. Anderson broke forward with Rovers caught cold on the halfway line. Anderson saw his first shot smothered by Brad Collins, but the free ball was gobbled up and rolled in to put Rovers on the ropes.

Rovers huffed and puffed – sub Shamir Mullings firing wide and Noble shooting into Logan on a bad day at the office for the League Two newcomers.

MANSFIELD: Logan, White, Pearce, Diamond, Benning, Atkinson (Potter 88), Digby, Byrom, Anderson, Angol (Sterling-James 60), Rose (Spencer 70).

Subs not used: Olejnik, Bennett, Mellis, Hamilton.

FOREST GREEN: B. Collins, Fitzwater, L. Collins, Monthe, Bennett, Laird (Wishart 82), Traore (James 65), Cooper, Noble, Doidge, Brown (Mullings 55).

Subs not used: Russell, Marsh-Brown, Bugiel, Evans.

Bookings: Noble 35, B Collins 39, Traore 64, Mullings 79, Bennett 86, Monthe 92

REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of East Yorkshire.

ATTENDANCE: 3,826 (147).

STAR MAN: Brad Collins.

COMING UP: Forest Green face a West Country derby in the Sky Bet League Two next Saturday, 3pm.