Rhys Oates’ thumping wondergoal helped Mansfield Town record a ninth straight league win at home as Stags defeated Colchester United 2-1.
Jordan Bowery came off the bench to net his fifth league goal in seven games by converting a high-pressure penalty in the 90+2 minute.
Alan Judge claimed a consolation goal for the hosts as he converted a neat free-kick on 90+7 minutes.
Manager Nigel Clough made two changes to the side that battled to a draw with Harrogate in midweek. January signing Jamie Murphy made his debut by replacing striker Jordan Bowery in the line-up whilst Ollie Clarke was moved to the bench in place of Lucas Akins.
Mansfield began on the front foot when Murphy energetically worked his way up the left wing to float a tempting ball across goal inside the first minute. The Scotsman’s delivery narrowly evaded George Maris’ run as Stags displayed their early intent.
Three minutes later, Mansfield were in again. Interplay between Murphy and Stephen McLaughlin played the Irishman in, whose squared pass was slashed inches wide by Maris.
Murphy continued Mansfield’s forward charge by cutting inside from the wing to sting the palms of Sam Hornby on 12 minutes.
A Colchester corner presented Mansfield with the breakthrough on 19 minutes.
A floated ball into Mansfield’s box was headed clear by McLaughlin and collected by Rhys Oates inside his own half. The striker controlled the ball, turned and drove through the heart of Colchester’s defence.
With the goal in his sights, having embarked on a 40-yard missile run, Oates hammered the outside of his boot through the ball to spectacularly beat Hornby from well outside the box.
The Stags persisted with their intensity after taking the lead. McLaughlin’s tempting cross into Akins on 34 minutes was poked goal wards and saved before a Colchester defender was deemed to have passed the ball back to his ‘keeper. Oates passed the indirect free-kick to O’Toole, six-yards out from goal, who struck over.
Murphy persisted to be lively for Mansfield as he was again played through on goal inside 38 minutes. However, Colchester ‘keeper Hornby swiftly rushed from his goal-line to make a reaction save and keep the scores level.
Stags again threatened to double their lead on the stroke of half-time. McLaughlin’s cross into Akins was met well by the sliding striker but, agonisingly, Akins’ effort ricocheted over the crossbar and behind.
The second-half restarted with Mansfield again looking most likely to score.
Though Colchester threatened the Mansfield goal for the first time on 58 minutes when Freddie Sears was played into the Stags’ box before rounding the ‘keeper and firing into the side netting.
Mansfield again came close to finding their second goal ten minutes later. Oates’ whipped cross looked destined to be slotted home by Akins at the far post before Colchester defender Tom Eastman intervened to clear the danger away at the last moment.
Following Eastman’s important intervention, the Stags continued to threaten for a second goal as Colchester looked to absorb their pressure.
Two Stags’ subs, Jordan Bowery and Ollie Clarke, combined to win a penalty.
The striker attacked the Colchester defence on the counter-attack to play in Stags’ skipper Clarke, who was hacked down inside the box by Eastman.
Having helped to win the spot kick, Bowery stepped up himself to slot the ball into the bottom right corner.
Alan Judge halted Mansfield’s celebrations momentarily by curling a highly technical free-kick finish into the top right corner of Mansfield’s goal.
Stags left the field to a now customary standing ovation as Nigel Clough’s Mansfield earned a ninth successive home league victory for the first time since 1973.
STAGS XI: Bishop, McLaughlin (Wallace 77’), Hewitt, O’Toole, Hawkins, Maris (Bowery 82’), Quinn, Oates (Rawson 88’), Stirk, Akins, Murphy (Clarke 74’)
UNUSED SUBS: Johnson, Stech, Longstaff
COLCHESTER XI: Hornby, Chambers, Smith, Wiredu, Hannant (Hannant 46’), Judge, Sears, Kenlock, Kennedy, Tchamadeu, Wright (Edwards 65’)
UNUSED SUBS: Welch Hayes, Andrews, Coxe, Cornish, Collins
REFEREE: Darren Handley
ATTENDANCE: 4,815 (106 away)