Mansfield Town under-18s edged closer to another EFL Youth Alliance league title with a resounding 4-0 win against Oldham Athletic at Brooksby Melton College this afternoon.
Goals from Aiden Walker, Rhys Sarson, Keaton Ward and Nyle Blake secured a second consecutive four-goal victory for the Stags and maintained their position at the top of the table.
Oldham are the only team to have beaten Mansfield in the league this season, winning 2-1 at the Chapel Road Training Ground in mid-October with two goals from midfielder Chinedu Uche.
There was no repeat however as Stags put the Latics to the sword early on, and could have easily gone on to score more as the match opened up towards the end.
The three points gives Mansfield an eight-point cushion over Oldham with five games remaining, all but eliminating them from the title run-in.
Stags have now won four of their last six, drawing two, and this afternoon further added to their impressive goal difference, which now stands at +30.
Oldham looked confident in opening fifteen minutes, passing the ball out from the back and looking to build patiently through midfield.
But, for all their possession and nice combinations, they didn't trouble Xavier Sundby in the Stags goal until the half-hour mark, when Uche's casual attempt drifted wide.
It was Mansfield who were more threatening, getting in behind and flashing crosses across the penalty area.
The opener came after 24 minutes when centre-back Walker adjusted his body position to arch back and place his header into the top corner from Ward's floated set-piece.
Oldham had lost some of their early swagger, and their confidence was dealt another blow on 38 minutes when Sarson collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and executed a clever finish, almost passing the ball into the bottom-left corner to put Stags two up.
After the break, Oldham had no choice but to try and force the issue. Declan Baldwin's awkward half-volley flew over from close range, while Ned Dry's turn and deflected shot from inside the area was as good as it got for the Latics.
Moments later, Jake Dumbleton was sent clear, and when he cut inside had his legs swept from under him by Baldwin in the penalty area. The referee awarded what was a clear spot-kick and a chance for Mansfield to effectively end the game as a contest.
Keaton Ward stepped up and despite Ewan McFarlane's best efforts, made it 3-0 to the home team.
A series of substitutions followed with Nyle Blake coming on for Iywrah Gooden, who had worked hard and made life difficult for the imposing Arthur Festus at the heart of the Oldham defence.
With Oldham throwing caution to the wind, huge gaps began to appear in their defence, and Blake duly exploited the space to latch onto a through ball and calmly stroked his shot past the onrushing McFarlane.
Oldham were now hoping for a consolation goal but were kept at bay by Keaton Mars, following the 'keeper coming on for Sundby with around ten minutes remaining.
Mars didn't have much to do but his bravery when diving to block Max Norman's sliding effort ensured both 'keepers enjoyed a clean sheet.
With two minutes remaining there was time for Mansfield to create more chances, first Jake Dumbleton's firmly hit shot was well parried by McFarlane, then Sam Jackson broke free on the right but also saw his shot saved by the Latics’ 'keeper.
The final whistle went and confirmed another comfortable victory for the Stags which puts them five points clear of second-placed Notts County, with two games in hand.
An away trip to Lincoln City is next for Mansfield, with big local derbies against Chesterfield, and Notts County on the final day still to come.
STAGS XI: Sundby (Mars, 79) Jackson, Johnson (Wells, 69) Bircumshaw, Gibbens, Walker, Wilder (c), Ward, Sarson (Sinclair, 65) Gooden (Blake, 65) Dumbleton
SUBS NOT USED: Cornell
OLDHAM XI: McFarlane, Norris (Swaby-Nevin,60) Sheridan, Scholes, Lent, Arthur, Antoine (Sheriff, 60) Baldwin, Norman, Uche, Robinson (Dry, 45)
SUBS NOT USED: Allen