Jordan Bowery's first-half goal earned Mansfield Town an impressive victory against Morecambe on Saturday afternoon.
The deadlock was broken courtesy of an intelligent assist from Stephen Quinn, who found Bowery for a close-range goal.
The Stags battled in the second-half to defend their one goal lead, ultimately securing a well-earned clean sheet.
Nigel Clough made three changes to the starting line-up, with Kellan Gordon, Mal Benning and Stephen Quinn replacing James Perch, Stephen McLaughlin and Harry Charsley respectively.
Perch and Charsley dropped to the bench, meanwhile left-back McLaughlin, who limped off at half-time against Harrogate on Tuesday, was absent from the squad. James Clarke replaced him as a substitute.
The Stags started the brighter of the two sides, with Jordan Bowery curling an effort goal-bound after three minutes. Morecambe keeper Kyle Letheren parried the effort into Jamie Reid’s path, but he could only head the rebound over the bar.
Much of the opening ten minutes were contested in midfield, with Mansfield winning a greater share of 50-50 challenges. George Maris picked up a loose ball and looked to play Bowery in behind the Morecambe defence, albeit for an interception from Harry Davis.
On 11 minutes, Nigel Clough's men again came close to the opener. Mal Benning had a 23-yard free-kick saved by Letheren, who could have been deceived by the wall's deflection.
With a quarter of an hour played, Maris turned provider once more. He floated in a couple of corner kicks into the six-yard box and Ollie Clarke headed the best of those set-pieces wide.
Morecambe gained composure after their shaky start to proceedings. Neat build-up play brought about a chance for Toumani Diagouraga from 12 yards out, but his shot was blocked effectively at the expense of a corner.
Neither side had joy in dominating possession as the half progressed, however the amber and blue put a few dangerous crosses into the box.
On 33 minutes, Gordon and Reid linked up well. The former burst down the right wing and found his teammate in space, only for the striker to head an effort comfortably wide of Letheren’s near post.
Seven minutes later, the Stags had their opening goal of the game. Quinn tricked his way past the Morecambe defence and drilled a low cross into Bowery’s feet. His first-time effort from inside the six-yard box nestled into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, giving the hosts a fully-deserved lead.
As the half-time whistle loomed, Mansfield pushed for a second. Jason Law reached the byline and dragged the ball into Quinn’s feet, yet his shot from 15 yards sailed over.
The Stags maintained their momentum after the interval. Gordon darted down the right flank after 51 minutes, being fouled by Gibson as he looked to unleash a curling cross. The resulting free-kick was looped in by Maris, but no-one was able to get a touch onto it.
Although outplayed for large parts of the game by the hour-mark, Derek Adams’ side searched for an equaliser. Lee Hendrie asked questions of the Mansfield defenders with a searching cross, but Maris cleared the danger without hesitation.
The central midfielder came to the rescue again minutes later, intercepting and clearing a ball that seemed destined to find Cole Stockton in the penalty area.
On 71 minutes, Bowery dribbled past two players before nutmegging Kelvin Mellor on his drive into the penalty area. With the option to shoot or pass, Bowery picked the selfless one, but had his delivery blocked by Morecambe skipper Sam Lavelle.
Aidan Stone, who was relatively untested all game, came into life with three minutes to go. As Hendrie found space in front of goal, Stone launched himself at the opponent’s feet to deny a certain goal scoring opportunity.
Leitch-Smith also had a golden chance in front of the Stags goalmouth, but he could not connect with a half volley and Stone managed to clutch the ball to guarantee the win.
STAGS XI: Stone (GK), Gordon, Rawson, Sweeney, Benning, Maris, O. Clarke (C), Quinn, Law (Charsley 90+2’), Reid, Bowery.
UNUSED SUBS: Stech (GK), O’ Keeffe, Perch, J. Clarke, Wright, Sinclair.
MORECAMBE XI: Letheren (GK), Mellor, Lavelle (C), Davis, Gibson (Hendrie 53‘), Songo’o (McAlinden 80’), O’ Sullivan (Leitch-Smith 80‘), Wildig, Diagouraga (Lyons 66‘j, Mendes Gomes, Stockton.
UNUSED SUBS: Halstead (GK), Slew, Cooney.
REFEREE: A. Backhouse
ASSISTANTS: S. Finch and M. Holmes
FOURTH OFFICIAL: D. Gratton