Mansfield Town extended their unbeaten run to eight matches this afternoon as striker Kane Hemmings' first half goal secured 1-0 victory over Stevenage at One Call Stadium.
Stags were dominant in large spells and could have made the scoreline more emphatic following numerous good passages of play.
The opening to the game was a closely fought affair but the Stags soon began to dominate and they took the lead in the 23rd minute when frontman Kane Hemmings tapped into an empty net from close range after Stevenage 'keeper Joe Fryer had a moment to forget when coming to claim a cross.
Mansfield and Hemmings saw a second goal controversially ruled out in the second half but the men in amber and blue continued to be the better of the two teams with 'keeper Conrad Logan not facing a shot on target all afternoon.
After a brilliant 1-0 victory away at Coventry City last week, Stags' manager Steve Evans made only two changes to his team, welcoming back midfielder Jacob Mellis from suspension in place of winger Paul Anderson and fielding striker Jimmy Spencer in place of top scorer Danny Rose, who was missing after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out.
With the Stags' playing away last weekend on Armistice Day, they used this opportunity to pay tribute to fallen servicemen and women. After an impeccably observed minute's silence and a moving tribute by members of the armed forces, the game got underway with Mansfield starting on the stronger foot, winger CJ Hamilton cutting in from the right and striking an effort at Stevenage 'keeper Joe Fryer inside the first two minutes.
Stevenage responded with a good chance – what turned out to be their best of the afternoon – of their own inside the third minute as top scorer Matt Godden raced onto a Chris Whelpdale header but struck his effort just over the bar.
The visitors then tried their luck again moments later but midfielder Tom Pett saw his shot from distance comfortably fly over the Mansfield goal.
It had been a close opening 10 minutes, with Stevenage probably shading proceedings, but the Stags nearly got the early goal in the ninth minute. A corner from midfielder Joel Byrom was headed back across goal by
Mansfield skipper Zander Diamond and frontman Jimmy Spencer was there to meet it but he looped his header over the bar.
Winger Alex MacDonald was the match-winner at Coventry with a tremendous 30-yard strike and the former Scotland under 21 international almost put the Stags ahead in the 15th minute but after cutting inside his low shot was claimed by Fryer at the near post.
The game flared up a minute later after a late tackle by Stevenage's Danny Newton on Mansfield left back Johnny Hunt. With the Mansfield bench and fans incensed, referee Tom Nield took a moment to think about things before showing the Stevenage man a yellow card.
MacDonald went close again in the 18th minute when he latched onto a chest down by Spencer before driving into the box and fizzing a shot wide of the upright from just inside the area.
The opener arrived six minutes later and it was the men in amber and blue who were celebrating. A ball into the area was completely missed by Fryer in the Stevenage goal, allowing Spencer to head the ball down to strike partner Kane Hemmings who had the simple task of rolling into an empty net.
The Stags were now playing with the confidence of a side who were looking to make it eight games unbeaten in all competitions and a training ground routine from a corner ended in midfielder Jacob Mellis seeing his shot from around 10 yards out blocked by a Stevenage body.
Stevenage went into the game level on points with Mansfield and Darren Sarll's side were looking to draw level. They went close in the 31st minute when Joe Martin saw his whipped free kick from the edge of the Mansfield area just miss the target.
Mansfield were still looking the more likely to get the next goal and Fryer had to be at his best in the 34th minute to parry away Spencer's effort across goal after the former Plymouth man had been slipped through by Mellis.
With half-time approaching, it was very much a case of one-way traffic and Mansfield nearly added a second when flying winger CJ Hamilton went clear down the left but his pass from inside the area was intercepted.
The fourth official indicated two minutes added time at the end of the first half and Stevenage nearly made the most of it. Winger Chris Whelpdale found space but he fired across goal with Stags' 'keeper Conrad Logan untested, as he had been all half.
The Stags nearly got off to a perfect start in the second half when Spencer flicked on a corner at the near post which forced Fryer into an impressive save.
Stevenage replied and in the 48th minute, Pett struck a speculative effort well over the bar for the visitors as they failed to test Logan once again.
The game was really livening up just before the hour with referee Tom Nield at the centre of it all. Mansfield and Kane Hemmings thought they had their second in the 57th minute when the Oxford United loanee fired home after another mistake by Fryer but Nield bizarrely awarded the goal, before changing his mind and giving Boro a free-kick whilst Stags were busy celebrating.
Stevenage frontman Godden has eight goals so far this season for but he was lacking sharpness in front of goal and let rip from 25 yards out but Logan never looked worried.
The experienced Zander Diamond nearly headed home for the Stags in the 72nd minute but he couldn't direct his effort on target after rising highest to meet classy midfielder Joel Byrom's in-swinging free kick.
Mansfield were continuing to press and after Mellis brilliantly spun his man on the edge of the area, Spencer poked his pass just wide of the post under close watch from a Stevenage defender.
Stevenage were awarded a dangerous looking free kick in the 78th minute after Mellis went to ground 19 yards from goal, but once again, Logan wasn't called into action as Martin saw his effort deflect over off the Stags' wall.
With less than ten minutes to go, Mansfield still looked comfortable but were looking to double their advantage and former Leeds United manager Steve Evans brought on attacker Omari Sterling-James in place of Jimmy Spencer, who had worked tirelessly all afternoon.
The Stags went close in the 82nd minute when MacDonald did brilliantly to get to the right byline and the ball fell kindly for Hemmings, who had a great opportunity to seal the three points, but he saw his first time shot go just wide.
Former Chelsea youngster Mellis was awarded the sponsor's Man of the Match award after an impressive display but he was replaced by midfielder Will Atkinson in the 85th minute as Mansfield looked to maintain their slender lead.
Sterling-James almost had an immediate impact as he put MacDonald through in the area but the powerful winger took one too many touches and saw his effort blocked well by Stevenage captain Ronnie Henry.
A lightning quick counter-attack by Mansfield in the 89th minute saw Hamilton race clear down the left wing and he picked his pass, finding Atkinson free in the area, but after taking the ball around two defenders, the former Southend United midfielder directed his shot just past the post via a deflection.
Mansfield introduced midfielder Calum Butcher late on in place of striker Kane Hemmings as Stevenage tried to force some late pressure but they failed to muster up a shot of any kind and despite a late corner which was over-hit, the Mansfield defence were untested.
Though on the balance of play it could have been by a more comfortable margin, Kane Hemmings' first half goal was enough to give the Stags their second successive 1-0 victory.
In doing so, Stags extended their unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions and moved up to eighth position in Sky Bet League Two.
STAGS' XI: Logan, White, Bennett, Diamond ©, Hunt, Byrom, Mellis (Atkinson 85'), MacDonald, Hamilton, Spencer (Sterling-James 81'), Hemmings (Butcher 90')
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Pearce, Anderson, Potter
STEVENAGE XI: Fryer, Smith, Martin, King, Wilkinson, Whelpdale (Samuel 88'), Beautyman (McKee 46'), Pett (Conlon 64'), Newton, Godden, Henry ©
SUBS NOT USED: Day (GK), Franks, Van Cooten, Wilmot
REFEREE: Tom Nield
ATTENDANCE: 3,353 (141 away)