Between sun and storms the Stags bagged all three points at Barton despite being reduced to ten men for the last fifteen minutes and weathering an onslaught from Barton in which they should have scored had their strikers not been so profligate in front of goal.
Stags heroes on the night were Gavin King, who bounced back from a nervy start to make some excellent saves including a blinding penalty save from Barton player / manager Gordon Guile, and Dewayne Clarke who scored two stupendous goals either of which could be put down as goal of the season.
The early exchanges were marked by the excellence of debutant Solomon Henry on the right wing. The Stags midfield was able to ship the ball out to him almost at will and, with two footed dexterity rarely seen now, he took on and beat his defenders at almost every ask. His crossing was immaculate too but, problematically, the linesman took to seeing off-side offences that really were debateable.
Forest should have gone ahead on 21 minutes when Henry cut in from the right and slipped the ball to Marvin Walker on the edge of the penalty area, he blasted the ball and had the ‘keeper beaten but the ball rebounded back from the upright.
Barton too had a chance at the other end and really should have scored when Cutmore shot from six yards but somehow managed to hit the underside of the Stags’ crossbar.
Forest had 70% of the play in the first half but could not convert their many half chances into a deserved lead. They had full control for nearly half an hour raining in crosses from both sides and causing trouble coming through the middle but Barton were to finish the half more strongly giving Stags’ back three of Brown, Tickner and McGowan a hard time with which they coped admirably.
The second half had a different complexion with Barton pushing up further than they had in the first half. The referee started to caution players when the game did not really warrant it, two for Forest and three for Barton.
Barton’s golden chance came on 51 minutes when Paul Barnes cut in from the right wing after being “shown inside” 40 yards out from goal. He continued to move in until going down under a 50/50 tackle from Carlos Brown. Barnes stepped up to take the penalty which was a hard shot but King made the right decision in going left and made an excellent save.
Then came the first of two stunning goals from Dewayne Clarke. The first was made by Marvin Walker who received the ball in his own half and sent it centrally through the defence for Clarke to run on to. His quick reactions gave him five yards on his nearest defender; he bore down on goal, drew the keeper and neatly slotted home. Seven minutes later it was some amazing footwork from Hasan Kardal that brought the second goal.
Kardal raced for a lost ball down by the right corner flag. Shepherded by two Barton defenders everything looked lost until he pushed the ball past them on the line, beat their two tackles then a third and cut the ball back to Clarke on the edge of the six yard box. Clarke made no mistake and cut the ball home from an acute angle.
The game looked to be sown up for Stags until, with ten minutes to go when Carlos Brown reacted to a kick in the face by pushing his opponent. The referee gave red straight away. Forest reorganised and brought on Pasa Karabulut who saved on the line within a minute of being brought on.
Barton pushed and pushed until Cooper Barton’s goal on the 90th minute. Forest had a nail biting four mnutes of time added onuntil the final whistle sounded