Mansfield Town recorded an emphatic 3-0 win at Alexandra Stadium, following a fine display to overturn Crewe.
Timi Elsnik chalked up an spectacular first-half brace as he found the back of the net with two sublime finishes just shy of half-an-hour apart.
Tyler Walker then added a clever third following the interval as the Stags went on to soak up any late pressure and earn themselves a well-deserved clean sheet alongside the three points.
David Flitcroft made two enforced changes for Tuesday evening’s trip to the Alexandra Stadium.
Otis Khan missed out due to an Achilles injury while Ryan Sweeney picked up his fifth yellow card against MK Dons – subsequently they were replaced by Elsnik and Hayden White, respectively.
Mansfield were in the ascendency from the opening stages of the match as they pressured the Crewe back-line into several hasty clearances.
And their pressure paid off in only the sixth minute when Elsnik rifled the ball home.
Neal Bishop’s free-kick was touched down into the path of Elsnik by Walker, before the midfielder gave his side the lead when the ball struck the inside of the post from 20 yards.
Crewe responded well to their early set-back though as they earned two corners in quick succession – before Charlie Kirk watched his curling effort sail over the crossbar.
CJ Hamilton fed the returning White moments later, but the centre-half couldn’t direct his cross towards a yellow and blue jersey.
There was an evidently open feel to the fixture when Callum Ainley came back with an attempt of his own. He found himself with time and space on the edge of the area but dragged his shot wide.
Danny Rose did well to win a free-kick after being bundled over on the counter; to which Elsnik took charge only finding the palms of ‘keeper, Ben Garratt.
The hosts wondered how they weren’t level on 24 minutes. Shaun Miller connected with a low cross but somehow diverted his right-footed effort wide from three yards.
Soon after, though, the Stags faithful were in equal astonishment when Walker dragged a shot wide from seven yards. The striker did superbly to rob George Ray of possession, he just didn’t have the end product to match.
The home side tried to pull off a training ground routine from a set-piece just past the half-hour mark, but James Jones watched his curling effort fall off-target.
The Stags weren’t to be disheartened by Crewe’s attacking intent as Elsnik made no mistake from just inside Garratt’s penalty area in the 35th minute.
Doubling his own, and the Stags’ advantage, the midfielder made use of great advantage by referee Christopher Sarginson as he found the top corner with an emphatic 17-yard strike.
Much like for the first goal, Crewe looked to respond instantly when Neal Bishop lost the ball in midfield. Ainley picked up the pieces and fed Miller who couldn’t divert his effort beyond Olejnik.
Mansfield almost put the game to bed before half-time through sheer luck. Bishop strode forward and gave the ball to Walker whose first-time shot struck a body on the way through, almost wrong-footing Garratt to creep in at the near post.
But the Alex came back once more as Ainley found Jordan Bowery in the middle, before his delicate flick bounced against Olejnik’s shins allowing him to claim.
The away side picked up where they left off in the first-half. Hamilton danced past Gray who gave away a foul and collected the game’s first caution in the process. Mellis struck it but it was safely collected by Garratt.
Mal Benning combined well with Mellis soon after, but the wing-back’s reverse pass was well read by Ray as he stopped it reaching Rose.
Flitcroft’s side continued to battle hard over the hour mark and, in the 61st minute, Walker put the game to bed with a delightful flick
Hamilton broke down the left-flank, squaring the ball slightly behind the striker, before he cleverly turned it home for is eighth goal of the season.
And three minutes later it could have been four – Hamilton this time looked to turn from provider to goalscorer but unfortunately dinked the ball wide of the target.
Crewe’s talisman, Ainley, spun neatly on the ball before forcing a fine save from Olejnik to tip his effort around the post.
The hosts looked to be in the ascendency as they fought back from three down.
Matt Preston made a last-ditch tackle to deny a certain goal for Miller; before Ainley then dragged a glorious opportunity wide from 10 yards after the ball landed at his feet.
Bowery then unleashed an effort from the edge of the area – one which Olejnik was equal to.
Hamilton made a break behind the Crewe defence and the ball eventually made its way out to substitute Will Atkinson who couldn’t get the ball under his control.
In the very last moments of the match, Olejnik plucked the ball out of the air as he stopped Ray’s header rippling the back of the net, preserving his clean sheet in the process.
Mansfield instantly sprung another attack as Elsnik sought after his hat-trick. He curled an attempt towards the far post but Garratt was able to stretch and tip it around the post.
It’s another away trip for Flitcroft’s side this weekend when they make the journey south to face Cheltenham Town at the Jonny-Rocks stadium.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), White, Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Bishop, Mellis (Butcher 88’), Walker (Atkinson 70’), Elsnik, Hamilton, Rose (Davies 80’).
SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Sterling-James, Gibbens, Sterling-James.
CREWE XI: Garratt (GK), Ng, Pickering, Ray, Jones (Finney 55’), Miller, Bowery, Ainley (Nicholls 71’), Wintle, Kirk, Whelan.
SUBS NOT USED: Richards (GK), Raynes, Porter, Hunt, O’Connor.
REFEREE: Christopher Sarginson.
ASSISTANTS: Joe Clark & Andrew Hendley.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Matthew Donohue.
ATTENDANCE: 2’973 (300 away).