IF SWINDON Town are to achieve their ambition of promotion out of League Two this season, Saturday’s victory at home to Mansfield Town proved they will give every last ounce of energy along the way.

Facing a fifth game in 15 days – and almost 1,000 miles racked up along the way after successive away trips to Stevenage, Lincoln City and Accrington Stanley – you would have been forgiven for thinking that fatigue would start to creep into the Town squad.

However, the manner of their winning goal against Mansfield showed David Flitcroft’s troops will go to the well and back for the cause.

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Marc Richards was skipper for Town in Olly Lancashire's absence

Just one goal was enough to separate Swindon from a Stags side equally intent on promotion this term and it came via a perfect example of counter-attack football in the closing stages of the first half.

After a Mansfield foray broke down midway inside the Town half, Keshi Anderson set off on a 40-yard dart forward. Having reached opposition territory, he offloaded to the only team-mate ahead of him, Timi Elsnik, who promptly laid off into acres of space on the left.

From there, experienced full-back Matt Taylor belied his 36 years with a lung-bursting run up the flank to collect possession before carrying it to the edge of the box and unleashing a powerful low drive that beat Mansfield goalkeeper Conrad Logan at his near post.

The Stags arrived at the Energy Check County Ground seeking to make it 10 league games in a row without defeat.

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Matt Preston battles it out at the County Ground 

However, after finding themselves in arrears at half-time, Steve Evans’ side always seemed destined to relinquish that run in the face of a resolute Town defensive effort.

After picking up just one point from the away trips to Lincoln and Accrington over the previous week, victory was imperative for Swindon so the post-match table will make for sweet reading for Flitcroft as his side leapfrogged their visitors into fifth and are now only two points outside the automatic promotion places.

The Town boss was forced into a late reshuffle prior to kick-off when captain Olly Lancashire succumbed to a lingering ankle injury and was forced to sit out a league match for the first time this season.

Fortunately, Flitcroft had a ready-made replacement in Matt Preston, who came straight back into the side after missing Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Accrington due to suspension.

That was one of two changes from the XI that started at the Wham Stadium, with Anderson fit again after missing the long midweek trip north through injury and taking the place of James Dunne in midfield.

Alongside Lancashire, Kellan Gordon was the only other absentee from the matchday squad that travelled to Accrington as he began a three-match ban following a red card in that match, which allowed Academy defender Joe Romanski to claim a rare place on the bench.

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Rival bosses David Flitcroft and Mansfield’s Steve Evans (above) meet

Town were the first to threaten and had a sight of the Mansfield goal in the opening minute. Luke Norris fed Taylor on the left and the striker was then the man to meet the low ball back into the box but his effort under pressure sailed well over the top.

It did not take the Stags long to muster up their first effort, although home keeper Reice Charles-Cook was in little danger as he easily gathered Danny Rose’s scuffed strike on the turn after an Alex MacDonald free-kick was only half-cleared.

The home fans and players were appealing for a penalty after nine minutes when Marc Richards went down in the box under pressure from Rhys Bennett but referee Kevin Friend waved away the claims.

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Keshi Anderson and Kyle Knoyle both keep their eyes on the ball.

Ollie Banks then saw a strike from distance fly well wide before Swindon were given a let off after 14 minutes as the Stags went closest to breaking the deadlock.

Kane Hemmings raced onto a long clearance from the back and although he was able to lift the ball over the advancing Charles-Cook, he could not keep his effort the right side of the crossbar.

Chances continued to come at either end and Elsnik flashed an effort into the side netting after exchanging passes with Taylor before Will Atkinson looped a header narrowly wide of the Swindon goal after flicking his head at a CJ Hamilton cross.

A superb run up the left by Anderson afforded him the best chance of the opening half-hour as he let fly from the edge of the box, with Mansfield stopper Logan pulling off a fine save to tip it over the bar.

Richards then pounced on a poor defensive header to lash a fine first-time effort from 30 yards just wide before Charles-Cook stayed big at the other end to thwart Hemmings after the home defence were caught out by a quick throw.

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Anderson goes close with a header in the second half. 

That led to spell of pressure from Mansfield but it only resulted in Swindon breaking the deadlock with a superb goal on the counter-attack six minutes before the interval.

A Stags probe broke down midway inside Swindon territory and Anderson drove forward 40 yards before offloading to Elsnik and his perfectly-weighted pass picked out the run of Taylor, who beat Logan with a crisp low strike from the edge of the box.

The home side went close to a second before the break through another spectacular effort, with Banks lashing into the side netting from 25 yards after an attack was only half-cleared, but Swindon were content to head back into the changing rooms a goal to the good.

Mansfield’s Logan was the first of the goalkeepers called into action after the restart, first making a wonderful point-blank save from Richards – although the offside flag was up anyway – before then safely gathering a 20-yard strike from Elsnik.

After a frantic first half, quality chances began to dry up – that was until the 72nd minute when only a goalline clearance denied the hosts a second goal.

Kyle Knoyle’s looped ball from the right was met by the head of Anderson but with Logan beaten, Bennett positioned himself perfectly to hook away the danger.

Logan was then called into action again shortly afterwards as Richards rose highest to meet another Knoyle cross but the header was straight at the Mansfield stopper.

Having offered little attacking threat in the second half, Stags top scorer Rose had a sniff of an equaliser with five minutes to play when he pounced as the ball pinged around the Swindon box but he could not keep his effort down.

That was as close the visitors came to share of the points as although they pumped balls into the box in the dying stages, the home defence stood firm to secure a deserved victory.