Report: Morecambe 1-3 Stags
Lethal Mansfield Town maintained their push for a place in the play-offs with a fully deserved 3-1 victory at Morecambe.
The Shrimps had levelled just two minutes after Danny Rose's early goal gave Stags the lead. But after the Mansfield striker netted again, midfielder Ben Whiteman added a third before the break to help fade any hopes of a home comeback.
Steve Evans' men produced a clinical display in front of goal and could have added to their goal tally with a string of chances in both halves.
Morecambe had to resort to shots outside the box as Stags' goalkeeper Jake Kean went untested for most of the contest.
Stags made one change from their excellent 2-0 victory last week at home to Carlisle United. Defender Krystian Pearce, who limped off in that game with a knock to his ankle, was replaced by Kyle Howkins.
Meanwhile, substitute goalkeeper Scott Shearer didn’t make the trip because of a virus, which enabled 41-year-old shot stopper Brian Jensen a place on the subs’ bench.
As expected, defender George Taft gained a place with the subs for the first time since September after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Prior to kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed for the victims of the terrorist attack in Westminster on Wednesday.
Stags started well and created the game’s first opening after just two minutes.
After good work from midfielder Joel Byrom, Shaq Coulthirst’s whipped left-sided cross was headed over by Matt Green on the edge of the goal area who was under heavy pressure from Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche.
But Stags were ahead in the fourth minute.
Mal Benning started the move, with a pass out to Alex MacDonald. And the winger’s low assist from the right was met with a blistering first time finish by Danny Rose, which flew underneath a diving Roche.
Morecambe levelled however just two minutes later.
Stags were unable to deal with a long ball over the top, and as Howkins appeared to be nudged in the back by Paul Mullin, the Morecambe striker took advantage to calmly slot the ball beyond Jake Kean from eight yards.
In the seventh minute, Aaron Wildig’s ferocious effort took a deflection to fly over for a corner.
Stags were soon on the march again.
An eye catching passage of play, ignited by interlink play from Matt Green and Mal Benning on the left, ended with MacDonald firing narrowly over the angle with a curling attempt from the edge of the box.
With 14 minutes played, Morecambe midfielder Michael Rose went close with a dipping attempt from 19 yards.
Coulthirst showed terrific strength in the 17th minute to shrug off the challenge of a trio of Morecambe players, before seeing a rifled shot denied by Roche.
Midway through the first half, a 22-yard free-kick from MacDonald was inadvertently turned behind for a goal kick by Green inside a crowded penalty area.
And Stags’ pressure on the home goal paid off on 33 minutes when Ben Whiteman robbed Morecambe’s Michael Rose of the ball 30 yards from goal.
And after slipping it through to Rose, the in-form frontman’s low shot could not be kept out by Roche, as it nestled into the bottom corner.
On 37, Andrew Fleming blasted off target for Morecambe from 20 yards out.
A minute later, Stags chalked up a third, wonderfully started and finished by the same man.
Coulthirst broke the offside trap to race away from his marker, latching on to a superb throughball by Whiteman midway inside his own half.
And after getting the ball caught in his feet, the striker waited cutely for the advancing Whiteman, who found the back of the net from inside the box with a well-placed finish.
Then, Morecambe’s Mitchell Rose delivered too deeply from the left side as it sailed behind for a goal-kick to Mansfield, in the home side’s last attack of the first half.
Within 15 seconds of the second period, Kean had to get down low to turn away Wildig’s low drive.
On 51, MacDonald pounced to steal the ball from Luke Conlan, and after releasing Rose, the striker managed to unleash a low shot at the goalkeeper, after being tightly guarded by the Morecambe defence.
Rose then turned architect. Spotting the run of White, the right-back advanced towards goal, but after trying to square it for Coulthirst, the pass took a deflection which allowed Roche to gather.
The Shrimps’ goalkeeper had to produce a strong save from a ferocious hit by Coulthirst on the left of the box, before the follow up from the same man was stopped by a defender just yards ahead of the goal line.
Mullin smashed a wild effort into the stand on 56 as Morecambe failed to find a way through a well-organised Stags' rearguard.
On the stroke of the hour, Roche again had to go to ground to beat away a Whiteman strike from the left, and neither Rose nor Coulthirst could convert the follow ups.
Mullen again tried his luck from long range, but it was well off target.
Morecambe did attempt to penetrate the Stags' defence in a short spell, but their route to goal was repeatedly thwarted.
With 13 minutes of normal time remaining, Danny Rose left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling Stags' fans, as he was replaced by striker Yoann Arquin.
Two minutes later, Matt Green made way for James Baxendale.
Goalscoring opportunities dried up for both sides in the final stages, but that ofcourse suited Mansfield.
On 86 minutes, Alfie Potter took the place of Alex MacDonald, who again produced another effective display on the flanks.
A minute after Stags' final change, Coulthirst turned inside the area, but saw his low effort fly by the post.
In the 90th minute, Coulthirst skied a 22-yard free-kick, which was won by the same man.
By this time there was no way back for Morecambe and Stags coasted to a deserved win.
MORECAMBE: Roche, Duckworth, Winnard, Whitmore, Conlan (Molyneux 75), Fleming (Evans 68), Rose, Turner (Jordan 65), Wildig, Ellison, Mullin
UNUSED SUBS: Maher, Wakefield, McGowan, Murphy
STAGS: Kean, White, Howkins, Bennett, Benning, MacDonald (Potter 86), Whiteman, Byrom, Green (Baxendale 80), Rose (Arquin 77), Coulthirst
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Taft, McGuire, Hamilton
REFEREE: Robert Jones