Mansfield Town were beaten 5-2 at home to Salford City in a forgettable afternoon for the Stags at One Call Stadium.
The visitors took an early 2-0 lead through strikes from Matty Lund and Callum Hendry in the 18th and 21st minutes, respectively.
Davis Keillor-Dunn halved the deficit for Stags on 36 minutes with a clever, reactionary finish following James Perch’s initial palm-stinger from 18 yards.
Luke Bolton re-established Salford’s two-goal advantage on 50 minutes, before Lund (56’) and Theo Vassell (81’) added further goals for Neil Wood’s men.
Callum Johnson returned from injury and teed up Jordan Bowery for Stags’ second goal on 88 minutes.
Manager Nigel Clough named an unchanged starting XI to the one that defeated Tranmere Rovers 2-0 at Prenton Park a week ago.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors on four minutes.
Ibou Touray’s left-sided cross was nodded over the bar from a good position by midfielder Matty Lund, however, the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
Stags soon crafted an opening of their own at the opposite end on eight minutes. Elliott Hewitt’s right-sided cross narrowly missed the run of striker Lucas Akins in the centre of the box, allowing the ball to run through to Jordan Bowery. And after collecting the ball in space, the ex-Aston Villa man settled himself and fired goalwards only to be denied by a stretching block from Salford defender Jason Lowe 15 yards out.
Less than a minute later, another Hewitt cross picked out midfielder Stephen Quinn at the far post, whose knocked-back header narrowly evaded the Stags’ attackers inside the box.
It didn’t take Salford long to regain possession. The Ammies found a flowing rhythm and worked the ball to forward Louie Barry on the left, who cut inside to whip a right-footed effort into Christy Pym’s side netting on nine minutes.
The game’s fast-paced start was halted on 12 minutes when Stags’ defender James Perch fouled Salford’s Callum Hendry in the middle of the park to receive the game’s first booking.
The visitors opened the scoring on 18 minutes through experienced midfielder Matty Lund. As Salford again worked up their left, Touray whipped in a cross to the near post, where midfielder Lund glanced a header across the face of goal and into the net.
Salford doubled their lead three minutes later when Elliot Watt’s right-sided knock back into the centre of Stags’ box was converted powerfully by striker Callum Hendry.
Mansfield looked to hit back straight away and almost halved the deficit on 26 minutes following some good work by captain Ollie Clarke.
The midfielder danced beyond Barry before whipping in a cross which found its way to Davis Keillor-Dunn inside the box, where the attacker let the ball drop before volleying it narrowly beyond the bottom left corner.
Eager to find a way back into the match, Mansfield pressed forward with urgency. Having won a throw-in high up the pitch, Elliott Hewitt launched the ball into the Salford box which was knocked back to James Perch, waiting on the edge of the area. The defender drilled a shot goalwards which was spilled by ‘keeper Alex Cairns into the path of forward Keillor-Dunn. And the deadline day addition did the rest, tapping home on the rebound on 36 minutes.
Salford came close to striking their third goal of the game on 42 minutes. The lively Barry played a long ball in the direction of Hendry for the forward to collect the pass outside the Stags’ box. And after advancing to go one-on-one with Pym, he stroked it narrowly wide with his instep from ten yards to keep the scoreline at 2-1 heading into the break.
Mansfield’s only change at the interval saw right-back Callum Johnson return from injury to replace Riley Harbottle – who suffered with illness prior to the fixture - in the Stags’ defence.
The game immediately re-established its end-to-end nature following half-time. A fast-paced Salford break up field found its way to Hendry outside the box, who settled his feet and curled a shot onto the post.
A minute later, the visitors broke again and added their third goal of the game.
Elliot Watt’s pass from midfield played in attacker Luke Bolton who went one-on-one with Pym before sliding the ball past him, left-footed, from a central position on 50 minutes.
With the wind in their sails, Salford found a fourth six minutes later as Bolton cut back a pass to Lund who curled a first-time effort into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box – adding his second of the encounter.
Mansfield made a triple substitution on 59 minutes. Hiram Boateng replaced Stephen Quinn in midfield, Jason Law came on for Lucas Akins and Kieran Wallace departed for striker Danny Johnson.
The hosts almost clawed one back instantly as Keillor-Dunn’s well-placed corner was headed narrowly over the bar by James Perch on the hour.
Following their changes, Mansfield found more possession in advanced areas and crafted another opportunity on 64 minutes. A well-worked attack found its way to Kellor-Dunn on the right side of the box whose drilled shot looked set to have reduced the deficit had Touray not thrown himself in the way of it.
Six minutes later, Bowery’s looped cross from the right side beat the Salford defence perfectly, however, Danny Johnson’s glanced header on the dive trickled beyond the far post.
After a period of play within the Salford half, the visitors attacked quickly on 77 minutes and provoked Pym into an impressive close range save to deny Conor McAleny.
But Stags were undone again on 81 minutes as Salford substitute Theo Vassell added a fifth for the visitors, heading Watt’s corner into the bottom left corner.
Academy prospect Taylor Anderson made a cameo appearance on 85 minutes replacing Keillor-Dunn for Mansfield.
Three minutes later, Jordan Bowery reduced Salford’s lead converting Callum Johnson’s cross close range, but by then, the outcome was already beyond doubt.
STAGS: Pym, Hewitt, Harbottle (C. Johnson 46), Kilgour, Perch, Bowery, Clarke, Wallace (Johnson 59), Quinn (Boateng 59’), Keillor-Dunn (Anderson 85), Akins (Law 60)
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Abdullah
SALFORD: Cairns, Touray, Lowe, Watt, Watson (Mallan 76’), Lund (McLoughlin 89’), Hendry (Morton 76’), Barry (McAleny 70’), Bolton, Leak, Vassell
UNUSED SUBS: Bellagambi, Smith, Nartey
REFEREE: Marc Edwards
ATTENDANCE: 6,868 (115 Salford supporters)