Mansfield Town produced an excellent display on an exhilarating afternoon at the Ricoh Arena as winger Alex MacDonald's thunderbolt earned a 1-0 win against Coventry City.
It was an entertaining and closely-fought first half with both sides going close to breaking the deadlock. Mansfield came nearest through top scorer Danny Rose who curled a shot onto the post in the 22nd minute whilst Stags' 'keeper Conrad Logan did well to deny Coventry front two Marc McNulty and Jordan Ponticelli.
The second half proved to be less lively as both sides cancelled each-other out. Coventry saw a header cleared off the line but it was Mansfield who went on to secure the win, as Alex MacDonald hit a shot which was worthy of winning any game, finding the back of the net from range with a swerving effort in the 84th minute.
From last week's Emirates FA Cup triumph at Shaw Lane AFC, man mountain Conrad Logan continued between the sticks though there were three changes ahead of him. The suspended Krystian Pearce was replaced by Rhys Bennett who joined Zander Diamond at the heart of the defence. Hayden White and Johnny Hunt also came back into the starting eleven in the full back spots, with Jacob Mellis also suspended.
There was a reshuffle in midfield as Alex MacDonald moved centrally whilst Paul Anderson moved forward from right-back to right midfield. Joel Byrom and CJ Hamilton kept their places, as did the strike partnership of Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings.
With the game taking place on Armistice Day, teams up and down the country paid their respects and the Ricoh Arena observed an impeccable minute's silence prior to kick-off.
As soon as the game got underway, however, it was played against a fantastic atmosphere and it was the home side that got off on the strong foot. Midfielder Liam Kelly sent forward Marc McNulty clear and Stags' stopper Conrad Logan had to be quick off his line to deny the former Sheffield United man.
In the sixth minute, Mansfield responded with their own pressure. Top scorer Danny Rose was just inches away from latching onto a flick-on by strike partner Kane Hemmings inside the area which would have put the former Bury man clear.
Four minutes later and Coventry had a great chance to open the scoring. Danger-man Jodi Jones delivered a free-kick from the right and it fell for Jordan Ponticelli who smashed an effort straight at Logan from only a few yards out.
McNulty tried his luck again for the home side but this time his shot from range landed on the roof of Logan's net with the Coventry players claiming the former Hibernian 'keeper had tipped the effort away.
The home side were definitely enjoying the better of the early proceedings and on 12 minutes, Jones cut inside and fired straight at Logan from the edge of the area.
Mansfield's first clear opportunity came in the 16th minute when Rose met Logan's long kick and Hemmings latched on to the flick, before fizzing a low shot into the side-netting.
The Stags nearly opened the scoring again two minutes later as they started to grow into the game. A free-kick from the left by winger Alex MacDonald was headed out to midfielder Joel Byrom and when he sent a volley into the area, winger CJ Hamilton reacted well to direct the shot goalbound, forcing Lee Burge into an acrobatic save.
Steve Evans' side were beginning to enjoy a spell of dominance as the game reached the 20th minute. Hamilton used his pace to sprint clear of the Coventry defence and his pull back found fellow wideman Paul Anderson who fired straight at Burge.
Mansfield's Danny Rose reached double figures for the season after his brace at Shaw Lane last Saturday and he nearly added goal number 11 in the 22nd minute. After picking up a loose ball inside the box, Rose did well to stay on his feet before curling an effort which hit the post, leaving Burge stranded.
Coventry were next to go close as in the 27th minute, Byrom's header back to Logan lacked the necessary power and McNulty raced onto it, forcing Logan into a low save down to his left.
Former Stags' loanee Peter Vincenti now plies his trade at Coventry and he was brought down near the corner flag by Mansfield right-back Hayden White, who was shown a yellow card by referee Nicholas Kinseley.
After an exciting opening half an hour, the game calmed down somewhat for the final 15 with neither side being able to get on top or carve out any real clear-cut chances. Ponticelli did find the back of the net for Coventry in the 40th minute but the celebrations of the Sky Blues fan were cut short when he was flagged for offside.
The second half saw Mansfield attack the end which housed 1,565 of their fans and they were nearly witness to an early goal as Hamilton sped away from the Coventry defence before firing just wide of the far post.
The Stags attacked again in the 52nd minute and from a central position MacDonald hit a powerful, whipped shot which went over Burge but landed on the roof of the net.
Mansfield had Joel Byrom to thank for a fantastic tackle on Coventry captain Michael Doyle in the 58th minute as the former Sheffield United man charged into the Stags' area, but Byrom dived in and scooped the ball away from his direct opponent.
A contentious moment in the 64th minute led to Rose being shown a yellow card for simulation when the Mansfield man felt he had been fouled inside the area.
The Stags' faithful were in tremendous voice, doing all they could to help their side find an opener and it nearly arrived in the 69th minute. The impressive MacDonald found the wall with a free-kick from range and from the resulting passage of play, Hemmings found time and space on the edge of the area to bend a shot just wide of the upright.
As the game neared the final ten minutes, nothing could separate the two teams but Sky Blues' substitute Max Biamou went close for the home side, seeing his header cleared off the line by Hemmings after rising highest to meet a corner.
Mansfield manager Steve Evans sent on Will Atkinson in the 82nd minute, replacing Paul Anderson, as he looked to give his side that extra spark that could prove to be the difference.
In the end, that spark came from Alex MacDonald who opened the scoring in spectacular fashion in the 84th minute.
The former Oxford United man drove forward and hit a stunning effort from 25 yards which swerved away from Burge and into the corner to send the Mansfield fans and bench into raptures.
With Stags leading by the solitary goal, the magnificent Stags' support behind the goal roared their side on as they looked to preserve their advantage.
As it turned out, Mansfield could have doubled their advantage in the 89th minute. Rose outmuscled Ryan Haynes in the corner and advanced with the ball before setting up Hemmings, who saw a low shot saved by Burge.
Coventry thought they had drawn level in the final minute of normal time as Ponticelli got free in the right of the area but as the forward unleashed his shot, Logan was there to make himself big and deflect the ball wide.
The Stags introduced midfielder Calum Butcher in the five minutes of added time and the former Millwall man almost had an immediate impact.
He set Hemmings clear but when the Oxford United loanee went down in the area, the referee waved away Mansfield's protests for a penalty. Hemmings was subsequently booked for his protests.
Mansfield hearts were in their mouths in the final seconds of the game as Coventry were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position but Jones' low effort was well held by Logan after going through the Stags' wall.
In the end, MacDonald's stunner was the difference as Stags extended their unbeaten run to seven games and moved to within two points of the play-offs.
COVENTRY CITY XI: Burge, Grimmer (Davies 74'), Willis, McDonald, Haynes, Doyle ©, Kelly, Vincenti (Biamou 65'), Jones, McNulty, Ponticelli
SUBS NOT USED: O'Brien (GK), Stokes, Stevenson, Shipley, Beavon
STAGS' XI: Logan, White, Bennett, Diamond ©, Hunt, MacDonald, Byrom, Anderson (Atkinson 82'), Hamilton, Hemmings (Digby 90'), Rose (Butcher 90')
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Sterling-James, Spencer, Potter
REFEREE: Nicholas Kinseley
ATTENDANCE: 8,410 (1,565 away)