Stephen McLaughlin’s guided header fired Mansfield Town to a fourth successive home victory in all competitions as the Stags triumphed 1-0 over Carlisle United at One Call Stadium.
Mansfield are now unbeaten at home in six matches and the crucial Sky Bet League Two points move Mansfield into the top half of the table overnight.
McLaughlin’s header came after just six minutes when the full back drifted clear of his marker to nod home for the amber and blue.
Manager Nigel Clough made two changes to the side that triumphed over Doncaster Rovers to reach the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Club captain Ollie Clarke was replaced in the midfield by Harry Charsley following a calf injury to the skipper. The armband subsequently swapped to the equally experienced arm of Irishman Stephen Quinn.
The Stags’ second change saw Jordan Bowery replace fellow striker Rhys Oates in the eleven to lead Mansfield’s forward line.
Nigel Clough’s men showed their attacking intent early as George Lapslie exploited pockets of space from the kick-off on the right hand side.
The Stags unlocked the Carlisle defence on six minutes, by again working the ball to the right side.
Journeying up the pitch from right back, Elliott Hewitt crossed the ball first time, showing great control to guide the ball into the path of the waiting Stephen McLaughan at the back post. The opposing full-back settled himself well to nod the ball into the bottom left corner with precision.
Carlisle didn’t sit back and reacted well to going behind. Stags’ stopper Nathan Bishop was called into action on 12 minutes to hold Tristan Abrahams’ tempting curled effort.
The Stags soon regained their authority on the game, working the ball between their amber and blue shirts to nullify Carlisle’s threat of a hit-back equaliser.
Charsley dispossessed an unaware Carlisle defender inside the attacking third on 25 minutes.
The midfielder’s urgency and pressing led to Bowery being played through. Mark Howard in the Carlisle goal was equal to the effort, providing a strong reaction save to keep the confident Stags at bay.
Mansfield were again tested on the 35th minute. Brennan Dickenson’s in-swinging corner was skewed vertically upwards by the head of Charsley, arriving at Bishop’s goal from the awkward angle.
However, the on-loan ‘keeper collected the danger well after the ball had rolled across his crossbar and dropped in front of goal.
The Stags were made to work hard for their lead and they weathered an intense attacking storm from Carlisle before the break.
Centre back Will Forrester was forced off the pitch through injury shortly after half time, being replaced by Farrend Rawson.
Impressive interplay between Quinn and McLaughlin got Mansfield into the box on 64 minutes. McLaughlin’s grounded cross dribbled agonisingly behind Bowery who would surely have fired home the chance from a good position in the centre of the box.
Carlisle came close to an equaliser on 70 minutes.
Another tricky Dickenson corner was glanced goal wards by Fishburn at the front post and dramatically cleared from the line by a Mansfield man.
Mansfield could have doubled their lead five minutes later. McLaughlin again caused trouble from the left. The full-back fizzed a low ball across the box narrowly evading a yellow shirt before seeing his dangerous delivery cleared to safety.
Carlisle never gave up their pursuit of an equaliser and Jordan Gibson rattled the Mansfield crossbar from far out deep into stoppage time. The Stags were able to seal Carlisle out for the remainder of the match and secure yet another home win.
STAGS XI: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Charsley, Bowery, Maris (Sinclair 85’), Quinn, Forrester (Rawson 57’), Stirk, Lapslie, O’Toole
UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Nartey, Burke, Law, Gale
CARLISLE XI: Howard, Armer, McDonald, Guy (Mellor 64’), Dickenson, Mellish, Abrahams (Fishburn 64’), Feeney, Whelan, Gibson, Young (Devine 78’)
UNUSED SUBS: Norman, Dinzeyi, Charters, Mampala
ATTENDANCE: 3,695 (133 away)
REFEREE: Neil Hair