Mansfield Town began the New Year in emphatic fashion as they gained revenge on Alfreton Town.
The Reds, who were victorious at One Call Stadium last week, were ruthlessly put to the sword on their own patch and offered little resistance to Mansfield’s sheer superiority.
Exodus Geohaghon fired home on the cusp of half-time to establish a deserved lead, before Junior Daniel and John Dempster, who was credited with the third goal, added gloss to the win.
A freezing cold wind and a bobbly pitch made playing conditions difficult for both teams in Derbyshire, though it was the hosts who initially started the better.
Nicky Law’s side came close after only seven minutes when Anton Brown cut between two defenders and saw his low 25-yard shot fly narrowly wide of the target.
Mansfield shot-stopper Alan Marriott was forced to react quickly when Simon Russell’s low ball threatened to put Paul Clayton clean through, before the veteran custodian saved Nathan Arnold’s powerfully-struck drive at his near post following Josh Law’s exquisite long ball forward.
The Stags then began to establish a strong foothold in the game, with Chris Clements, industrious at the heart of the action, twice firing wide from distance.
Clements, signed from Hednesford Town last summer, again lacked accuracy with a free-kick after Matt Green was hacked down by Brown only yards outside the area, whilst skipper Adam Murray came no closer to an opener with a wild left-footed 20-yard drive.
Paul Cox’s side were dominating proceedings in terms of possession by this stage, but were struggling in their attempts to create a meaningful chance and force Reds ‘keeper Phil Barnes into action.
The Alfreton defence were at full-stretch though as John Thompson delivered a long ball into the six-yard box from the right flank, which somehow, neither Green nor Daniel were able to connect to.
Mansfield remained frustrated as Daniel then headed over from Lindon Meikle’s cross midway through the first period, before Clements blazed straight into the side-netting from a left-sided corner.
The visitors almost established a deserved lead on the half-hour mark as Meikle inadvertently flicked Green’s fine pull-back straight into the path of Daniel, who unleashed a vicious shot towards Barnes’ bottom corner, which had to be deflected away by Josh Law.
Daniel posted the visitors’ first shot on target when he curled an effort straight into the arms of Barnes, and as the sunlight crept across the hallowed Impact Arena turf, Lee Beevers’ teasing back-post cross had to be watched all the way by the blinded Reds custodian.
Having soaked up long spells of Stags’ possession, the hosts spurned a gilt-edge chance to break the deadlock six minutes before the break.
Josh Law exposed frailties in the Mansfield defence with a fabulous right-sided cross, which was met inside the area by the troublesome Russell, who saw his low shot creep beneath the on-rushing Marriott but agonisingly trickle wide of the woodwork.
Mansfield appeared to be buoyed by the near-miss and began to press forward with ruthless vigour, venom and velocity in the moments immediately prior to the interval.
Dempster’s looping header saw Brown clear at the expense of a corner, following Beevers’ initial long-throw into the area, and it was from the resulting set-piece that the Reds’ resistance was broken.
Clements whipped his left-sided delivery towards at towering Dempster at the back-post, before Geohaghon swooped to tuck home the resulting loose ball from two yards out.
Dempster almost helped double Alfreton’s misery as his header was only partially cleared by Darran Kempson in stoppage-time, straight into the path of Murray, who saw a low drive through a crowded penalty area fly narrowly wide of the target.
The Stags continued to look dangerous after the re-start as Daniel cut inside from left flank on 53 minutes, and unleashed a vicious strike that flew only inches over the woodwork
However, the Reds almost found a route back into the game when Ross Killock’s pass defence-splitting pass reached Clayton, who advanced into the area and tumbled to the ground after appearing to connect with the Mansfield shot-stopper.
With Alfreton fans screaming for a spot-kick, referee Ross Joyce showed no hesitancy in sounding his whistle, but the home faithful looked startled as Clayton was cautioned for diving.
And the sense of injustice was multiplied when Marriott’s downfield clearance from the subsequent incident inadvertently helped Mansfield to double their advantage.
Green saw his angled strike superbly palmed away by Barnes, but with the Reds defence static, Meikle reacted quickest to reach the loose ball and slid a simple pass through the six-yard box towards Daniel at the opposite post, who tapped home with extreme simplicity.
The Stags then oozed class in abundance as they swept aside Nicky Law’s side with swashbuckling ease.
Green came close to adding a third goal with a close range strike on the hour-mark, whilst Anthony Howell also saw a header cleared off the line by Adam Quinn.
The Reds offered little response to Mansfield’s superiority and struck again on 72 minutes when Clements’ low free-kick from distance nestled beautifully in the bottom corner, after it caught a wild deflection.
Beevers saw a powerful shot blocked by Alistair Taylor in stoppage-time, though it mattered little as Mansfield did more than enough to gain revenge on the Reds.
Attendance: 1,537 (756 away supporters).