Liam Hearn climbed off the bench to bag his second brace of pre-season as Mansfield Town beat Lincoln City 3-1 at The Gelder Group Sincil Bank Stadium.The ex-Grimsby Town hitman, who previously knocked two goals past Leeds United in the second half a week ago, continued his pre-season love-affair with the net, and almost took home the match ball.
Prior to his half-time entrance, Stags edged the first half which saw Paul Cox’s side take the lead with a blistering 22 yard strike by Fergus Bell, only for the Imps to level after Hamza Bencherif’s close range header.
Bell registered Stags’ first effort on goal on six minutes when his low drive sailed wide from 20 yards; but his moment in the spotlight was yet to come.
At the other end, Mansfield goalkeeper Sascha Studer claimed well inside his goal area to prevent any danger from Bencharif’s left-wing cross.
Midway through the first period, Fergus Bell and Alex Fisher combined to find midfielder Simon Heslop who was unable to get a clean connection on his strike.
Just a minute later, Amari’i Bell, the left-wing back, floated in from the left for Fisher who struck off-target on the turn.
Despite Hearn ultimately stealing the headlines, Fergus Bell’s wonder strike was worthy of equal praise on the half-hour mark. His namesake Amari’i laid it forward for Fisher, who leapt tremendously to control for Fergus Bell, who after taking two touches, smashed an unstoppable piledriver into the roof of the net.
Bell then turned provider eight minutes later when he slipped in Ollie Palmer inside the box, but the former Havant & Waterlooville frontman couldn’t latch on to it and the chance went astray.
After the missed opportunity, Lincoln charged up the other end to restore parity as a quick break away saw Bencherif head home from inside the six yard box after a left-wing assist.
Liam Hearn then came on for Ollie Palmer at the interval and changed the course of the game.
But it was Lincoln who should have had the advantage shortly after the break.
Youngster Connor Robinson headed over from five yards when he should have scored after Stags’ defence were too easily undone on the right.
On 52, Lee Beevers sprayed a well-measured 40-yard-diagnol pass to Hearn, whose ball found Heslop only to shoot wide.
Shortly before the hour-mark, Hearn gave the Lincoln defence a taste of what was to come when he smashed a shot narrowly over the angle from 15 yards.
Stags made a hat trick of changes before Hearn turned on the style as Liam Marsden, Matt Rhead and trialist Rob Taylor replaced Lee Beevers, Alex Fisher and Amari’i Bell.
Moments later Chris Clements took to the field in place of Fergus Bell
Then Hearn smelt blood. Heslop was the architect, and Hearn did the rest after getting by his man to rifle a low drive into the far corner of the goal after 70 minutes.
Three minutes later, Heslop and Hearn linked up again, but this time home custodian Paul Farman was behind Hearn’s effort.
On 76, Hearn found the net once more when trialist Taylor picked him out, and Hearn did the rest with another low shot which beat Farman from inside the area.
In the last ten minutes, Ryan Tafazolli came off for Martin Riley, whilst Heslop made way for Anthony Griffith and Jamie McGuire came on for Adam Murray.
Chris Clements witnessed his shot blocked in the closing stages as Stags finished the match on top.
ATTENDANCE: 924 (181 away fans)
STAGS: Studer; Sutton, Tafazolli , Dempster; Beevers, Murray, Heslop, F. Bell, A. Bell, Fisher, Palmer
USED SUBS: Riley, Marsden, Griffith, McGuire, Clements, Rhead, Hearn
UNUSED SUB: Thomas.