Danny Rose and Willem Tomlinson were on target for Mansfield Town as they recorded a 2-1 victory over ten-men Northampton Town at the PTS Academy Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Inside a frantic first half that saw temperatures rise to boiling point in Northamptonshire, Rose calmly notched his 12th goal of the season after Sam Hoskins had given away the spot-kick for a push.
And despite intermittent pressure from the Cobblers – including a late header by substitute Harry Smith – Tomlinson rubber-stamped all three points with his first Mansfield goal of the season on the break.
After 14 days without football, due to last Saturday’s postponement against Swindon Town, Graham Coughlan made just one alteration to his starting lineup.
Joe Riley was preferred to Hayden White at right-back, while there was a place on the substitutes’ bench for 16-year-old Maison Campbell after Bobby Olejnik picked up a knock during training.
The hosts enjoyed a near-monopoly of possession throughout the opening exchanges but it was the 767 travelling Stags fans that reason to celebrate first.
Only 12 minutes into the contest, Harry Charsley forced Sam Hoskins into squandering the ball on the halfway line before charging towards goal. The Northampton wideman subsequently felled Charsley inside the area, looking to atone for his error, and was dismissed by referee Peter Wright.
A straight red proceeded Rose’s spot-kick, who calmly tucked it beyond Steve Arnold to thrust his side into the driving seat.
Tempers began to flare inside the PTS Academy Stadium with Mansfield threatening to extend their lead further.
Nicky Maynard launched his side’s latest counter attack and – using CJ Hamilton as a decoy – the striker’s progress was halted by a fine Alan McCormack intervention.
Soon after, Kelland Watts looped a header beyond the bar with Krystian Pearce lurking around Arnold’s goalmouth for the loose ball.
The Cobblers inevitably sought an equaliser with the half drawing to its conclusion; however, Scott Wharton’s header was held superbly by Aidan Stone allowing Vadaine Oliver no opportunity to restore parity from point-blank range.
And in the last opportunity of the first period, both Rose and Charsley were denied only by the instinctual reflexes of ‘keeper Arnold, which meant Charlie Goode could clear the danger on the goal line.
Into the second half and Keith Curle’s half-time substitution almost paid dividends. Smith, standing at six-foot five-inches, directed a header wide of the target and only yards away from Oliver’s boot.
Pressure from the hosts continued to build and Stone was twice called into action to deny two separate efforts from Callum Morton and Wharton, respectively.
Then, Mansfield countered from a set-piece as they attempted to conjure some daylight but Maynard’s eventual one-two with Hamilton saw the winger lash into the side netting.
Although, the Stags were given a second chance to break and they duly accepted it.
Tomlinson situated himself inside the centre circle and profited greatly when possession was hurled upfield – the midfielder sprinting all of 50 yards before sliding past Arnold with precision in abundance.
There did, however, prove to be one last twist. Smith leaped inside a crowded penalty area float a 96th-minute consolation beyond Stone but it would matter little as the Stags left Northampton with all three points.
Graham Coughlan will now be hoping his men can build upon this afternoon’s victory when they host Crewe Alexandra at One Call Stadium.
STAGS XI: Stone (GK), Pearce ©, Bishop, Maynard (Davies 82’), Watts (White 87’), Tomlinson, Sweeney, Riley, Hamilton, Charsley, Rose.
UNUSED SUBS: Campbell (GK), Benning, Evans, Sinclair, Knowles.
NORTHAMPTON XI: Arnold (GK), McCormack (Jones 65’), Goode ©, Turnbull, Hoskins, Watson, Adams, Wharton, Oliver, Morton (Pollock 68’), Marshall (Smith 46’).
UNUSED SUBS: Cornell (GK), Lines, Harriman, Anderson.
REFEREE: Peter Wright
ASSISTANTS: Conor Farrell & Matthew Lee
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Paul Kelly
ATTENDANCE: 5,666 (767 away)