Magnificent Mansfield Town recorded their biggest win of the season by striking four first-half goals to earn a stunning 4-0 win at promotion rivals Carlisle.
Nigel Clough’s men produced a devastating display of attacking football as goals from Ollie Clarke, Alfie Kilgour, Lucas Akins and Elliott Hewitt helped stretch Stags’ unbeaten run to five matches.
A merciless first-half performance put Mansfield in the box seat heading into the break and a second period of equal defensive quality saw Mansfield control the game consummately.
Goalkeeper Christy Pym returned to the starting XI following injury, replacing Scott Flinders.
Jordan Bowery came into the team at left-wing back, with midfielder George Maris sidelined.
After a slow start to the encounter, Stags’ created the game’s first real opening in the sixth minute.
Midfielder Davis Keillor-Dunn advanced to latch on to a threaded ball from Stephen Quinn, but his shot from the right side of the area of the box was blocked by Carlisle defender Paul Huntington.
Six minutes later, frontman Lucas Akins too saw a shot charged down from a similar position following good hold up play.
And the Stags’ frontman then tested Cumbrians’ goalkeeper Tomas Holy for the first time with a hard low drive.
Bursting from near the halfway line, Akins bulldozed his way through the middle before lashing at goal which Holy could only parry before a defender cleared.
Stags’ attacking endeavours came to fruition as they gained the upper hand in the 14th minute.
Midfielder Stephen Quinn swept a delightful hanging cross from the left touchline and captain Ollie Clarke rose superbly to head home from eight yards.
And Quinn turned from provider to potential scorer after 20 minutes.
A sweeping move from halfway saw Keillor-Dunn lay it wide for Hewitt to swing into the centre for Quinn to fire over from 15 yards.
Goalkeeper Holy had to be alert when defender Riley Harbottle, well forward, sent a deep cross into the area to send the shot-stopper back peddling and claw over his bar.
And from the subsequent corner, Stags’ claimed their second goal on 25 minutes.
Davis Keillor-Dunn drifted a dangerous ball onto the edge of the six-yard box, where imperious defender Alfie Kilgour powered a header into the net.
With Carlisle shaken to the core, Mansfield were given the chance to extend their lead further on 27 minutes when Keillor-Dunn was barged in the back inside the box.
And after almost two minutes’ delay, Akins dispatched the penalty consummately, sending Holy the wrong way with a right-footed drive.
Relentless Mansfield turned on the style further when they added a fourth goal in the 38th minute.
Following a throw, Keillor-Dunn showed neat footwork inside the box to square for defender Elliott Hewitt in a central position, who fired brilliantly into the top left corner from ten yards.
Harbottle was then hacked down on the touchline, leading to JK Gordon receiving the game’s first yellow card.
Carlisle applied some pressure in the closing minutes of the half and fired a warning shot across the bows when a dangerous corner sailed over everyone inside the area and narrowly beyond the far post.
And in stoppage time, goalkeeper Christy Pym was called upon for the first time, stopping a Jon Mellis strike, after breaking clear of the Stags’ defence to emerge one-on-one with the Mansfield number one.
Carlisle made a triple change at the break while Stags’ boss Nigel Clough introduced midfielder Hiram Boateng for captain Ollie Clarke.
Stags continued their attacking impetus and Bowery came close on 49 minutes with a right-footed curler which deflected behind for a corner.
Defender Riley Harbottle was shown a yellow card six minutes later for a foul on Gordon.
And Joe Garner entered the book soon after for a foul on Mansfield’s defensive midfielder Kieran Wallace.
As the contest passed the hour-mark, Kilgour lashed an awkwardly-bouncing ball over the target from 12 yards following a Keillor-Dunn corner.
At the other end, Pym expertly pushed behind a 25-yard free-kick from Owen Moxon as Carlisle looked to pull one back.
Wallace had to be helped off by the physio on 69 minutes, as John-Joe O’Toole took to the field in his place.
As Carlisle’s frustrations grew, Jayden Harris received a yellow card for chopping down Quinn near halfway.
With a quarter-of-an-hour to play, dynamic midfield duo Quinn and Keillor-Dunn were replaced by Jason Law and Will Swan.
Chances were at a premium in the second-half as Stags’ continued to manage the game well, though Cumbrians’ skipper Morgan Feeney nodded over inside a crowded box with five normal minutes remaining.
Nigel Clough handed a debut to 18-year-old Taylor Anderson – a Stags’ Academy product - on 88 minutes, replacing Elliott Hewitt.
Swan almost extended Stags’ lead a minute later. Roaming goalwards, the Forest loanee struck the woodwork with a floated strike which cannoned off the post.
And in a last-gasp Carlisle attack, Kilgour put his body on the line with a superb block.
Stags capped off a memorable night in Cumbria at full-time, heading into the corner to applaud the 212 supporters who backed them magnificently.
CARLISLE: Holy, Senior (Harris H/T), Armer, Moxon, Feeney, Huntington (Patrick H/T), Gibson (Garner H/T), Guy, Dennis (Robinson 76), Mellis, Gordon
UNUSED SUBS: Kelly, Whelan, McCalmont
STAGS: Pym, Hewitt (Anderson 88), Harbottle, Kilgour, Perch, Bowery, Clarke (Boateng H/T), Wallace (O’Toole 69), Quinn (Law 75), Keillor-Dunn (Swan 75), Akins
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, D. Johnson
REFEREE: Ben Toner
ATTENDANCE: 4,645 (212 Stags’ fans)
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