Mansfield Town made it three consecutive victories in Sky Bet League Two with an excellent 3-1 win over bottom-of-the-table Barnet at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The struggling visitors had the better of the opening chances but as the half wore on, the Stags began to take more and more control of the game and they took a deserved lead in the 42nd minute. In-form Alex MacDonald curled a brilliant effort into the top corner after finding space on the edge of Barnet box to put Mansfield ahead at the break.
Ten minutes after the restart, Mansfield added a second to take control of proceedings. A corner was met by striker Kane Hemmings but his goal bound header was helped past 'keeper Craig Ross by midfielder Will Atkinson.
Mansfield's third arrived in the 71st minute and it came via top scorer Danny Rose. Winger CJ Hamilton got down the left and he pulled it back for Rose who dispatched a cultured finish into the corner of the goal. Barnet did, however, score a late consolation as defender Rhys Bennett's short back header led to Simeon Akinola nipping in to poke the ball past 'keeper Conrad Logan.
Mansfield manager Steve Evans made two changes to the team that started away at Morecambe last week, going for the eleven that ended that dramatic 2-1 win. The versatile Paul Anderson came in at right-back with defender Rhys Bennett moving inside to centre-half in place of club captain Zander Diamond who missed out to attend the birth of his first child.
Midfielder Will Atkinson was also given the nod, joining Joel Byrom in the centre of midfield with the combative Alex MacDonald operating from the right. Alfie Potter dropped to the bench where he was joined by Mansfield's three January signings; Adam King, Matt Penney and Ricky Miller.
Barnet's Alex Nicholls had the first chance of the game inside the third minute but his shot from 25 yards out was deflected comfortably into the grateful hands of Stags' 'keeper Conrad Logan.
Physical forward John Akinde wanted an early penalty for the visitors but referee Scott Oldham waved away protests after the Bees' striker went down in the area under pressure from Mansfield captain Krystian Pearce.
Mansfield's first opening came in the eighth minute when left-back Mal Benning delivered a free-kick into the Barnet area but 'keeper Craig Ross wasn't tested by the flick on from Mansfield defender Rhys Bennett.
In the 12th minute, Barnet right back Richard Brindley did well to beat the Stags' offside trap to go clear inside the area but his low shot was blocked well by Bennett.
Former Stags' loanee Shaq Coulthirst was looking to haunt his former side and he had a good opportunity to do just that after being picked out in the area but just as he was about to pull the trigger, the hard-working Alex MacDonald got back to slide in and intercept the ball.
In the 13th minute, Stags should have had a penalty. Danny Rose raced onto a ball over the top and got in front of Ricardo Santos before the centre-half put a clear arm into the head of Rose, but referee Scott Oldham waved away Stags' appeals.
The visitors were arguably having the better of the play but it was the Stags who went closest in the 16th minute. Scintillating play on the edge of the Barnet area ended in striker Kane Hemmings teeing up MacDonald to clip a shot against the post with Ross beaten.
Mansfield's top scorer Danny Rose almost added another goal to his collection in the 19th minute but after flying winger CJ Hamilton had stood a cross up to the back post, Ross just managed to tip the ball away with Rose waiting to head in.
Referee Scott Oldham had enjoyed a relatively quiet opening 20 minutes but his afternoon was cut short as he picked up an injury that led to him being replaced by fourth official Thomas Bramall.
On-loan Oxford United man Kane Hemmings almost scored an outstanding solo effort to put the Stags ahead. After strike partner Rose had done well to win the ball back, Hemmings was fed by Hamilton and he drove into the Barnet box but saw his effort across goal go just wide of the upright.
Hemmings was involved again a minute later as he and the Stags went close once again. Latching onto a long ball into the area, the former Rangers front man took a touch before seeing his well-struck effort saved by the legs of Ross.
Mansfield were now building some momentum and the pressure was increasing on the Barnet goal. In the 32nd minute, MacDonald was quickest to a loose ball 25 yards out but his first-time drive was well saved.
Rose was then inches away from heading in the opener after Anderson fizzed a ball across the box but the ball just had too much pace on it for the former Bury man.
It looked a case of when and not if for Mansfield as they continued to go close to taking the lead. In the 38th minute, MacDonald saw a shot from range hit a Barnet defender and wrong-foot Ross but the visitors breathed a sigh of relief as the ball bobbled wide of the post.
The Mansfield opener finally arrived in the 42nd minute and there was no surprise that it was MacDonald who got it. The former Oxford man had kept up the excellent form that saw him win the January Player of the Month award and he broke the deadlock in spectacular style, curling a shot from the edge of the box into the top corner with Ross left stranded.
The Stags then had a chance to double their lead shortly before the interval but Rose's flicked effort at the near post could only find the side netting.
Barnet almost levelled in the 45th minute when Brindley's long-range free-kick was spilt behind by Logan but the resulting corner kick came to nothing as the Stags went into the interval with their noses in front.
Shortly after the restart, MacDonald should have scored again. Hemmings did well inside the area to head the ball down for Mansfield's goal scorer but from six yards out, the shot across goal went inches wide of the post.
The Stags didn't have to wait long for their second, however, as it arrived in the 55th minute. A well delivered corner from the left was headed towards goal by Hemmings and midfielder Will Atkinson managed to nip in to prod the ball past Ross for his first goal in Stags' colours.
Barnet almost got back into the game just after the hour mark but after being picked out by a Ruben Bover free-kick, Charlie Clough saw his header easily held by Logan in the Stags' goal.
It could, and probably should, have been 3-0 in the 67th minute. Mal Benning got forward from left back and delivered a pinpoint cross into the middle but Hemmings appeared to take his eye off the ball for just a second and his free header skewed off target.
Barnet brought on Simeon Akinola in place of Coulthirst and the striker almost made a big impact but he saw two efforts blocked at the far post after being found by Nicholls.
That was a warning sign to the Stags and they put the game to bed moments later. Pearce did brilliantly to bring the ball out of defence, going on a mazy run, before playing it to Hamilton on the left wing. The former Sheffield United man then went on one of his typically driving runs before playing the ball across to Danny Rose who expertly curled in his 15th of the season from 12 yards out.
The Mansfield fans were in buoyant mood and they nearly witnessed one of the goals of the season in the 74th minute. A brilliant triangle between Rose, Hemmings and Atkinson ended in Hemmings trying to tee up the latter but unfortunately the ball was cut out at the last minute.
After he was awarded Mansfield's winner in last week's 2-1 win away at Morecambe, forward Jimmy Spencer was introduced in the 83rd minute in place of Danny Rose who, as always, had put in a terrific shift for the cause.
Mansfield were still searching for more goals and Hamilton and MacDonald played a lovely one-two on the edge of the box before the former fizzed a low shot wide of the post.
In the 85th minute, Deadline Day signing Ricky Miller was given his Mansfield Town debut, with Kane Hemmings being replaced after doing everything but score.
The comfortable position Mansfield were in was under threat in the 86th minute as Barnet pulled a goal back. Bennett's attempted header back to Logan was intercepted by Simeon Akinola who rolled the ball into the back of the net.
Forward Ricky Miller looked desperate to mark his Stags' debut with a goal and the on-loan Peterborough man saw two thunderous shots from distance blocked by Barnet defenders.
Barnet were now giving it a real go in an attempt to stage a late and remarkable comeback. Ryan Watson looked to have created space on the edge of the Stags' box but Pearce was out quickly to block his effort.
With four minutes added on, Mansfield made their final substitution. Will Atkinson was the player taken off, replaced by winger Alfie Potter.
Brindley had an optimistic, dipping volley in the last seconds of the game but Logan was able to comfortably watch it past his post.
A comfortable win makes it nine league games unbeaten for Stags as they moved up to fourth, level on points with third place.
STAGS' XI: Logan, Bennett, Benning, Pearce ©, MacDonald, Anderson, Atkinson (Potter 90'), Hamilton, Hemmings (Miller 85'), Byrom, Rose (Spencer 83')
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Digby, King, Penney
BARNET XI: Ross, Brindley, Clough, Santos, Watson, Weston © (Nicholson 75'), Akinde, Coulthirst (Akinola 58'), Tutonda, Bover, Nicholls (Taylor 79')
SUBS NOT USED: Legg (GK), Vilhete, Sule, Plavotic
ATTENDANCE: 3,795 (79 away)
REFEREE: Scott Oldham