Mansfield Town returned to winning ways with a commanding 2-0 victory over Crawley Town at One Call Stadium.
The result moves the Stags back into the Sky Bet League Two play-off places and just four points from the automatic promotion spots.
Jamie Murphy’s 26th minute volley opened the scoring for Mansfield before Lucas Akins doubled the lead with an excellent header on 72 minutes.
Crawley were reduced to ten men on 69 minutes as James Tilley was shown a second yellow card.
Manager Nigel Clough made three changes to the team that faced Carlisle United on Easter Monday.
Top scorer Rhys Oates returned to the XI in the place of Jordan Bowery, who took up a place on the bench. Oli Hawkins missed the fixture and was replaced by defender John-Joe O’Toole. Midfielder George Maris started, whilst Ryan Stirk moved to the bench.
Following an evenly contested opening, Lucas Akins provided the first attempt on goal of the game after nine minutes.
Stags’ ‘keeper Nathan Bishop dispatched the ball quickly up field to Jamie Murphy, who drove forward before spreading the play to Akins on the right wing. The forward took the ball, arrived inside the box and stroked a left footed effort towards the bottom left corner, only to be denied by Glenn Morris’ diving save.
Four minutes later the ball broke inside the box for Matty Longstaff. The midfielder lined the ball up before striking it on the half-volley as Crawley defender Joel Lynch charged the effort down.
Mansfield saw more of the ball in the following period but it was Crawley who next came close to scoring. Winger Isaac Hutchinson cut inside from the left, switched the ball onto his right and curled an effort narrowly wide of the top right corner from outside the box.
The Stags soon regained their control of the play and took the lead on 26 minutes. After a sustained attack, Longstaff played Elliott Hewitt down the right wing who executed a delicate cross into the centre of the box. Mansfield winger Jamie Murphy met the delivery 10 yards out from goal and guided a superbly controlled volley into the top right corner.
The following period yielded few chances until Jake Hessenthaler linked up with James Tilley inside Stags’ box on 39 minutes. The Crawley man controlled the ball and swept a shot narrowly wide of the bottom left corner of Bishop’s goal.
Two minutes later Maris passed to Oates on the left wing. The forward glided in from the left and curled a right footed effort which was surely bound for the top right corner had Morris’ diving save not denied it.
Moments later Murphy slid a pass in behind the defence to Stephen McLaughlin who collected and forced another strong reaction save from Morris at close range.
Despite Stags’ late flurry of chances, the teams went into half-time separated by just a single goal.
Mansfield restarted the second-half positively and were agonisingly denied on 51 minutes when Oates’ pass from the edge of the box found its way to Murphy on the right wing. The forward dribbled towards goal and curled a shot beyond Morris only to be denied by Will Ferry’s goal-saving header on the line.
Three minutes later Oates was played in behind the Crawley defence. The striker strode with the ball, drawing Morris from his line but the ‘keeper made another reaction save to again deny Stags.
Following a quiet spell in the game, Oates almost doubled Mansfield’s lead on 66 minutes. The ball settled nicely for him just outside the box and the striker whipped a dangerous effort wide of the bottom corner.
Crawley were reduced to ten men on 69 minutes when Tilley clattered McLaughlin inside the Mansfield box to receive a second yellow card.
The Irishman recovered quickly from the coming-together to set up Akins and double Mansfield’s lead on 73 minutes. The full-back’s floated cross into the centre of the box was guided with precision by Akins’ head to nestle in the bottom left corner.
Crawley came close to getting a goal back on 81 minutes when Aramide Oteh nodded Mark Marshall’s corner wide from a dangerous position in front of goal.
Stags almost struck back just a minute later when substitute George Lapslie slid Oates through, however, the striker’s effort on the edge of the box was dealt with by Morris.
Mansfield could have added a third on 90 minutes when Longstaff slid McLaughlin in on goal, however the defender slipped as he was set to shoot.
The Stags used their momentum and experience to control the final stages of the contest and secure maximum points.
STAGS XI: Bishop, Hewitt, O‘Toole, Perch, McLaughlin, Longstaff, Quinn (Lapslie 82’), Maris (Wallace 79’), Murphy, Oates (Bowery 84’), Akins
UNUSED SUBS: Stech, Rawson, Stirk, Johnson
CRAWLEY XI: Morris, Davies (Oteh 56’), Francomb (Marshall 73’), Nichols, Tilley, Francillette, Ferry, Tunnicliffe, Lynch, Hessenthaler, Hutchinson
UNUSED SUBS: Seymour, Gallacher, Craig, Kastrati
REFEREE: David Rock
ATTENDANCE: 5,022 (93 away supporters)