Mansfield Town put in a clinical display to thrash local rivals Notts County 5-0 at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Striker Matt Green increased his tally for the season to 16 with a brace, although it was midfielder Adam Chapman who provided the eye-catching moment of the day with a wonderful free-kick from the left-side of the box which rifled past Scott Loach in the Notts’ net.
Winger Reggie Lambe then grabbed the fourth goal with a calm finish, before substitute Mitch Rose rounded off the display in the 83rd minute with a close-range finish.
Manager Adam Murray made one change to the side that beat Carlisle United at Brunton Park last week as left-back Mal Benning returned to replace Colin Daniel, who was forced off in the first half in Cumbria with a back spasm.
The visitors came into the contest in fine form, having kept three clean sheet in their previous five games. Before Mark Cooper came in as boss, they had only achieved the same number of clean sheets in their last 22 matches.
But it was the Stags got off to a productive start and they had the first opportunity of the game. Winger Lambe worked well out wide before delivering a teasing ball for midfielder Matty Blair, who met it on the half-volley, but his effort was blocked.
And before long, the hosts took the lead. Top scorer Green pounced on the loose ball 16 yards from goal and caught it fantastically on the half-volley as he saw it fly into the top corner of the net.
The Magpies responded with a set-piece and experienced striker Jon Stead connected with a full-volley which ballooned well over Scott Shearer’s crossbar. And they continued to press forward as midfielder Liam Noble sent in a superb cross which Stags’ midfielder Jack Thomas blasted clear of danger with it destined for the run of striker Izale McLeod.
The Notts’ striker then had the next chance of the match when Elliott Hewitt cut the ball back to him, but his shot went straight into the gloves of Shearer.
Notts were chasing three consecutive victories for the first time since 2014, but Mansfield’s defensive stubbornness was preventing them from getting an equaliser as the half progressed, despite the ever-growing influence of Stanley Aborah in the middle of the park.
The home side continued to look solid from back to front, defending the high balls arrowed for McLeod and Stead with poise. Winger Wes Atkinson then had an effort on goal after showing quick feet on the edge of the 18-yard-box, but he lost his footing and his left-footed attempt trickled wide.
Murray’s men were battling admirably, but the visitors were left rueing a missed header when Noble curled in a delivery for McLeod, who could only direct it waywardly over the bar.
For all of their aerial threat, Notts were having little success from flicks and knock-ons with centre halves Lee Collins and Ryan Tafazolli keeping a close eye on their markers. Instead, they opted to attack on the floor in their next meaningful action as Aborah fed Noble who cut inside and fired inches wide of the right-hand post.
As the clock ticked on towards half-time, McLeod was played through over the top before the former MK Dons man mis-hit his volley and it went harmlessly to the grateful Shearer.
Into the second half, and it was the Stags who were on the front foot from the off as midfielder Adam Chapman sent in an inviting free-kick for Green, who could only head it into the hands of Loach.
The flexible 4-1-3-2 system deployed by Mansfield was performing efficiently, with Thomas, Chapman and Blair all taking their turns to play a part defensively to intercept Notts’ attacking forays.
However, Murray opted to bring on energetic midfielder Mitch Rose in place of tall attacker Emmanuel Dieseruvwe in a bid to solidify the middle of the park further.
But the Pies were finding their feet as Stead drilled in a cross which just evaded Hewitt, before McLeod made a good run in the area, but he could only glance his header comfortably wide of the mark.
Mansfield heeded their warning and proceeded to go down the other end and double their advantage in outstanding fashion. Chapman lined up a free-kick on the right-edge of the area after Thomas was brought down, and with everyone expecting a whipped cross into the area, the former Oxford United man blasted the ball into the far corner beyond a helpless Loach.
In an effort to halve deficit, the so-far frustrated Stead saw a half-volley bounce easily into the hands of Shearer. And once again, the Stags made the visitors pay to give themselves a breather with a third goal.
Striker Green capitalised on a mistake by veteran defender Mike Edwards and composed himself before placing it into the net to send the home contingent inside One Call Stadium into joyous raptures.
Considering the aforementioned run of clean sheets by Notts, the ruthlessly clinical display that the Stags were putting on was even more impressive, and it only got better for Murray’s outfit with a fourth goal.
Midfielder Matty Blair picked up the ball in his own half and sprinted past Aborah, carried the ball into the area and curled it beautifully towards the back post for the waiting Lambe, who made no mistake from close range, calmly slotting into the net.
The best home crowd of the season was enjoying the occasion with the visitors barely able to muster a threat, stunned by the clinical nature of the hosts.
As the rain began to teem down with little over ten minutes remaining, Murray made his second change with Jamie McGuire replacing goalscorer Lambe.
The contest went through a peaceful period with Mansfield relatively comfortable as they held the Magpies at bay. Soon after, the gloss was put on the performance with a fantastic fifth goal.
Blair tested Loach from 20 yards out and the ex-England under 21 ‘keeper could only parry it out to the waiting Rose, who swept the ball into the back of the net.
Noble had a late audacious try with a vicious free-kick, but Shearer palmed away with confidence, and that’s all the away side could do as referee Geoff Eltringham blew his whistle for full-time on an incredible day for Mansfield.
Stags’ XI: Shearer, Benning, Collins, Chapman, Green, Tafazolli, Dieseruvwe (Rose 54’), Blair, Lambe (McGuire 78’), Thomas (Baxendale 84’), Alfei
Subs not used: Jensen, Beardsley, Daniel, Yussuf,
Notts XI: Loach, Hollis, Noble, Hewitt, Valencic, Atkinson, Stead (Gibson 63’) , Audel, Aborah, Edwards (Amevor 73’), McLeod (Campbell 63’)
Subs not used: Carroll, Smith, Sarpong, Wildin
Attendance: 6,357 (1,741 away)