Mansfield Town made it back-to-back home wins as they survived a late onslaught to earn a 3-2 victory over Carlisle United.
The Stags made the best possible start as they opened the scoring inside five minutes courtesy of a well-placed header from Liam Marsden’s cross.
Marsden provided another assist just after the half-hour mark as his lovely ball towards the back-post was thumped home by Rakish Bingham at an acute angle.
Paul Cox’s team continued to go from strength to strength and were 3-0 up just a few moments later, when Bingham bagged his second goal with a fine strike from the edge of the area, following a superb 60-yard run by Lee Beevers.
Determined to impress new boss Keith Curle, however, the visitors improved majorly after the re-start and reduced arrears thanks to a close-range finish by David Amoo on the hour mark – the U’s substitute turning home Billy Paynter’s wayward shot.
United soon reduced arrears further courtesy of a sublime 20-yard effort by Kyle Dempsey, and with approximately 20 minutes still to play, a grandstand finale was on the cards.
But Mansfield regrouped and defended well in the closing exchanges to record a priceless three points, which lifts them up two places to eighth position in the Sky Bet League Two table.
On a wet and windy afternoon in North Nottinghamshire, the Stags could have opened the scoring inside 60 seconds as Rakish Bingham latched onto an excellent ball nodded forward by strike-partner Matt Rhead, however, the U’s ‘keeper matched the effort with safe hands.
Nevertheless, four minutes in, Mansfield took an early lead through the head of Lee Beevers, who scored just his second goal in amber and blue colours, as he headed home after meeting Marsden’s right-wing cross.
After a very positive start from Paul Cox's side, the visitors got a glimpse of goal on 11 minutes as they applied pressure, but Ritchie Sutton ensured he saw the ball go out of play after a brief scare. Seconds later, Brad Potts blazed an effort high and wide for Carlisle's first real shot of the afternoon, much to the disappointment of the travelling faithful.
After a constant battle in the middle of the park, the hosts began to drill some life back into the game, 20 minutes in. A ball was played forward by Sutton deep in the Carlisle half, which led to Mark Gillespie racing off his line to punch away the danger. However, the Cumbrian 'keeper clashed heads with team-mate Hayden White and Stags’ frontman Matt Rhead, leading to a break up in play.
A couple of minutes later, Carlisle had the ball straight down the other end. Luckily for Mansfield though, reliable centre-half Martin Riley was there to block a hopeful drive from Cumbrians’ skipper Antony Sweeney, leading to a corner which amounted to nothing.
As the half-hour mark approached, Carlisle began to work their way back into the game and midfielder Patrick Brough let fly with arguably the visitors best chance of the game so far, which whistled just wide of the upright.
With 35 minutes played, Mansfield once again installed fear into the Carlisle back-line. Bingham had a brief sight of goal, only to be beaten to the ball by an oncoming Gillespie. The 20-year-old striker then continued to antagonise the visitors by winning possession and he soon whipped a ball into Rhead, who couldn't take advantage seeing as his strike fizzled across the face of goal and was then cleared.
With less than 10 minutes to go until the interval, the Stags doubled their advantage. Marsden was again the supplier – producing a tremendous cross to the feet of Bingham. The forward then converted beautifully from a tight angle for his second goal of the campaign, leaving Gillespie stranded on the floor.
Bingham soon had the chance to make it 3-0 minutes after his clinical finish as he was through on goal one-on-one with the ‘keeper, but Gillespie won this encounter with an instinctive reaction save.
That saved kept United two goals behind for only a matter of moments though, as Bingham soon made it 3-0 – finishing with a fine low strike from just outside the area, following a sublime 60-yard run by Beevers.
Mansfield continued the second half the way they finished the first, in control of the game and creating opportunities.
Fergus Bell had an early free-kick blocked by a five-man defensive wall. This saw Carlisle counter and win a corner. Such perseverance from the Cumbrian's forced Evtimov into an expected save after a dipping corner was delivered from the right side.
After displaying promising signs in the second period, David Amoo scored to give Carlisle hope on 61 minutes, when he pounced on a scruffy attempt from Billy Paynter to breathe a much-needed lease of life back into the Carlisle.
The fight-back was now well and truly on. Mansfield skipper Adam Murray searched for an instant reply as he attempted a long strike from distance, however his effort was unable to test Gillespie.
They forced Evtimov into two finger-tip saves as the Bulgarian firstly tipped a corner out of play and then grasped the ball firmly, blocking Amoo's oncoming drive. Amoo then continued to change the stem of the tides as he headed Stephen Elliott's teasing cross just centimetres wide of Evtimov's right post.
With 20 minutes to go, Carlisle's determination and drive to battle on paid off again as they further reduced the Stags’ advantage. Kyle Dempsey took the ball on the edge of the area and darted around the Stags' defence, before curling a wonderful strike out of Evitmov's reach and into the bottom corner.
The hosts appeared to be shaken. Carlisle substitute Mark Beck almost headed home just minutes later, however, he committed a foul on Riley ensuring Mansfield still held a lead. The visitors once again turned up the volume as Archibald-Henville headed wide of the post from a corner. The centre-half came close again catching a half-volley and slicing the ball wide following a cross from the right-hand side of the pitch.
With 10 minutes remaining, Mansfield almost ended any chances of a Carlisle comeback as Marsden once again delivered an appetising ball across the six-yard box, which saw Archibald-Henville flash the ball across his own goal, just blazing it clear of his own bar. Moments later, Matt Rhead rose tallest to meet a cross, however his header ended up on the roof of the netting.
With full-time fast approaching, Carlisle's time for an equaliser was ticking. Archibald-Henville once again headed over the bar from a deeply driven corner, just as a crucial four minutes of stoppage-time was announced. The pressure increased again when Kearns delivered a ball into the box, but Evtimov remained assertive and like a brick wall, stopped the chance.
With stoppage-time seeming like it was lasting forever, Mansfield managed to survive the late Carlisle onslaught and hold on to win 3-2. This was Paul Cox's side's first back to back victories of the season as they continue their rapid climb up the League Two standings.