A scintillating first half performance from Mansfield Town saw them defeat fellow promotion hopefuls Newport County 5-0 at One Call Stadium on a night to remember in North Nottinghamshire.
Looking to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment away at Swindon Town, Mansfield blew Newport away in the first half and went into the break 4-0 up. Their first arrived in the sixth minute when striker Danny Rose made it three goals in his last three games against Newport by tapping home at the back post after good work by captain Krystian Pearce.
Mansfield added a second three minutes later when pacey winger CJ Hamilton beat three men before pulling the ball back for winger Alfie Potter to smash into the top corner from a central position.
After a blistering start, the Stags had to wait until the 28th minute for their next goal. Potter scored his second when he reacted quickest to thump the ball home after Rose saw a shot clip the crossbar.
A fourth goal was always going to arrive and it came in the 34th minute. A corner eventually fell for dynamic midfielder Alex MacDonald who drilled the ball through a sea of bodies and into the back of the net.
Despite the Stags continuing their dominance, the second half proved to be less fruitful as they only added one more to their tally. Alfie Potter topped off a magic night for himself by securing his hat-trick in the 61st minute, seeing an effort across goal deflected past goalkeeper Joe Day just after the hour.
After seeing his side lose for the first time in ten league games at the weekend, Mansfield manager Steve Evans made two changes to his line-up. Cultured midfielder Joel Byrom was deemed too unwell to keep his place, therefore the boss handed a Stags’ debut to Swansea City loanee Adam King. The Scotsman was joined in the heart of midfield by in-form Alex MacDonald with Alfie Potter replacing the versatile Will Atkinson.
Mansfield got the game underway and they made a bright start to proceedings, almost going ahead in the first minute. After good link up play between strike partners Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings, the tricky Alfie Potter got down the right and whipped a ball in which flew inches away from the head of the onrushing CJ Hamilton.
The Stags continued their early pressure and this time it was left-back Mal Benning who got clear down the wing but his cross came to nothing with Hemmings’ flick on being headed away from danger.
Potter was heavily involved in the early exchanges and he almost produced a stunning opener but after cutting inside from the left, his thunderous shot flew over the bar.
It was all Stags and they went close again in the fifth minute. Captain Krystian Pearce headed the ball on for Hemmings inside the six-yard box but his low effort was saved well by the legs of Newport ‘keeper Joe Day.
The onslaught continued and the inevitable Mansfield opener arrived in the sixth minute. Terrific work by Pearce inside the area saw him find space and he drilled the ball across to the back post where Stags’ top scorer Danny Rose was waiting to tap in for his 16th of the season.
It had been a truly stunning start by the men in amber and blue and it got a whole lot better in the ninth minute when they scored again. Flying winger CJ Hamilton went on a typically mazy run down the left and he pulled the ball back for Alfie Potter to run onto and smash into the top corner from 12 yards out.
The game had quietened down somewhat after Mansfield’s barnstorming start but as the game reached the quarter of an hour mark, the visitors were yet to trouble Stags’ goalkeeper Conrad Logan.
Newport’s first chance came in the 17th minute when striker Frank Nouble ended a promising, passing move by seeing a shot from the edge of the area deflect comfortably through to Logan.
Mansfield nearly got a third in the 20th minute and it was almost identical to their second. Hamilton once again used his blistering pace to get down the left and his pull-back found Rose on the stretch but the former Bury man just couldn’t direct his shot on target.
The small number of Newport fans were soon celebrating, thinking they had halved the deficit. Matt Dolan’s low free kick was deflected through to Nouble who finished past Logan but the former West Ham man was denied by the linesman’s flag.
Mansfield looked dangerous every time they went forward and in the 24th minute, Newport defender Scot Bennett had to be at this best to head away a dangerous ball in by Benning.
Benning scored an outstanding goal against Newport two seasons ago and he looked to do that again but saw an optimistic shot from 35 yards fly over the bar.
Mansfield continued to look the more likely to get the next goal and in the 28th minute, they made it three. Pearce did terrifically to win the ball back on the edge of the Newport box before squaring to Rose. He saw a dinked effort hit the bar but thankfully Alfie Potter was on hand to slam the ball home for his second of the night.
With the win all but secured, it was simply a matter of just how many Mansfield would score and in the 34th minute, it was 4-0. A corner in by Potter initially found defender Rhys Bennett who saw a shot rebound out to the impressive Alex MacDonald who fired the ball past Day from 12 yards out.
There was almost a fifth for Mansfield in the 41st minute but after latching onto a loose ball inside the Newport area, Rose saw a first-time effort blocked by the legs of a Newport defender.
Newport almost got a goal back late into the first half but Robbie Willmott’s curling effort towards the far post was tipped to safety by Logan.
In an attempt to stem the tide and keep the score somewhat respectable, Newport manager Michael Flynn made two changes at the break, bringing Marlon Jackson and Mark O’Brien on for Matt Dolan and Frank Nouble.
Mansfield came out for the second half and carried on in the same vein as the first as Oxford United loanee Kane Hemmings did brilliantly to hold the ball up before spinning his man and dragging a shot wide of the upright.
Adam King, who was enjoying a solid first start for the Stags’, almost made it a debut to remember as he went close to scoring a fifth in the 50th minute. After latching onto a misplaced Newport pass, Rose saw a low drive parried out by Day and it came out to King just inside the area but once again Day was there to deny the on-loan Swansea man with a strong hand, diving low to his left.
The post came to Newport’s rescue moments later when Bennett got on the end of MacDonald’s cross but was denied by the upright with Day beaten.
It should have been 5-0 shortly afterwards. Rose got down the right and delivered the ball across to Hemmings who, in space only a few yards out, lifted the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Mansfield were still in complete control and the fifth arrived on the hour mark with Potter securing his hat-trick. Hamilton’s square ball from the left found Potter free at the back post and his strike across goal was deflected into the back of the net with the former Northampton Town man not celebrating, seemingly believing it was an own goal.
In the 68th minute, the Stags were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position after referee Ben Toner spotted a Newport handball. MacDonald’s bending effort beat the wall but with Day stretching, it could only find the side-netting.
Mansfield’s first changed arrived in the 76th minute. Hat-trick hero Alfie Potter was taken off to a standing ovation by the Stags’ faithful, with Matt Penney coming on to replace him.
That substitution was followed shortly afterwards by the introduction of striker Ricky Miller, who was brought on in place of Kane Hemmings.
Newport captain Joss Labadie nearly scored a spectacular consolation for his side with a long distance sliced volley but Logan was able to claim the ball from underneath his crossbar to preserve his clean sheet.
Miller’s first involvement was to almost score his side a sixth. Rose did incredibly well to keep the ball under possession by the left by-line and he teed up Miller but the on-loan Peterborough man saw his shot denied by the legs of Day.
Those in attendance were almost treated to one of the goals of the season by Mansfield new boy Adam King inside the 83rd minute. With Day well off his line after rushing out to meet a ball, King struck a wonderful effort from just inside the Newport half which Day just managed to tip over the bar as he scrambled back to his line.
Newport kept reminding Mansfield they were there with rare ventures forward and in the 85th minute, Marlon Jackson should have done better with a header after being picked out well by Willmott, but his effort went over the bar.
With the clock running down, Mansfield made their final change. Former Plymouth forward Jimmy Spencer was introduced with fans’ favourite Danny Rose going off to a chorus of his name.
In the 90th minute, MacDonald tried his luck again from another set piece. The free-kick on the edge of the Newport box was well hit but it was easily claimed by Day.
It was an emphatic win by Mansfield who produced the perfect response to Saturday’s set back to remain in the Sky Bet League Two play-off places and keep the pressure on the top three.
STAGS’ XI: Logan, Bennett, Benning, Pearce ©, MacDonald, Anderson, Potter (Penney 76’), Hamilton, Hemmings (Miller 79’), King, Rose (Spencer 89’)
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Diamond, Mellis, Atkinson
NEWPORT XI: Day, Pipe, Butler, Labadie ©, White, Willmott, Dolan (O’Brien 46’), Amond, Nouble (Jackson 46’), Bennett (Tozer 58’), Demetriou
SUBS NOT USED: Bittner, McCoulsky, Reid, Sheehan
ATTENDANCE: 2,866 (57 away)
REFEREE: Ben Toner