LINDON Meikle’s 14th minute header from a pinpoint Gary Roberts cross had Stags comfortably in charge at 1-0 at half-time in a game which looks set to relegate Kettering Town at Nene Park this afternoon.
Matt Green, Ross Dyer and Meikle all wasted other chances to kill off the battling home side for whom keeper Kelvin Jack has an excellent 45 minutes.
Play-off chasing Mansfield comfortably cleared the first two Kettering balls into their box in the opening two minutes from a York long throw and Mills centre.
On six minutes a long throw from Geohaghon was cleared back to him. He slipped a pass inside for Briscoe who cued up for Roberts, but his ballooned finish left the ground.
Home keeper Jack did well to smother a firm, low cross from the left after Meikle had got himself to the by-line.
Sutton did well to win the ball and then overlap Meikle for the return to get to the same by-line before disappointingly sending his cross for a goalkick.
Green should have opened the scoring on 12 minutes as Briscoe’s early forward ball put Green one-on-one with the keeper to the right of the box. But Jack managed to get something on the finish and the ball bounced across goal and wide of the post for a corner.
However, Stags were ahead two minutes later. Ralph gave the ball away to Roberts who teased down the right touchline before finally hoisting in a fantastic cross that Meikle had only to stoop and head in almost on the goalline.
Green headed wide at the near post under pressure from Bridges soon after.
Stags were enjoy themselves now and only an offside flag denied Green going clear onto Meikle’s through ball.
Mansfield then broke well from Kettering’s first corner with Briscoe leading the charge before setting up Dyer to his left who would be disappointed to only find the sidenetting.
Kelly then did supremely well to get back and tackle Howell as Stags again broke quickly to go four on three in the home half.
Home player-caretaker manager Westwood forced a great one-handed save out his own keeper after a long Geohaghon throw skimmed off the top of his head towards his own goal.
Green saw his six yard shot hit the bar on 27 minutes, from a Geohaghon nod-down, only to see an offside flag raised anyway.
O 35 minutes Meikle cut in from the left and tried a low sidefooted finish which Jack parried to Dyer. But, from six yards and the keeper off-balance, the striker failed to find the net as Jack somehow got a touch which took the ball onto the bar and out for a corner.
Five minutes from the break Kelly worked an opening for Joyce on the right whose fierce shot only found the sidenetting, Marriot furious when the keeper gave Kettering a corner for his supposed ‘save’ which they then wasted.
There was more danger for Mansfield as O’Neill lost possession, Wyke broke well, fed the overlapping Kelly who, as he prepared to test Marriott was stopped by O’Neill’s challenge as he got back to make amends.
In stoppage time the excellent Jack beat away a powerful Briscoe blast at his near post as Kettering clung on at just 1-0 down at the break.