MANSFIELD Town lead Gateshead 1-0 in the Blue Square Premier league at half-time after an excellent first half display.
Ross Dyer hammered Stags ahead on 9 minutes from just in side the box following good build-up play between Adam Murray and Aman Verma.
It was nothing more than rampant Stags, who lined up with a new 4-5-1 formation, deserved after Matt Green had blown two excellent one-on-one chances with goalkeeper Jak Alnwick in the second and sixth minutes.
Stags, who have looked dangerous every time they have attacked, came close to making it 2-0 on a number of occasions with Kieron Freeman’s miss-hit cross bringing the best out of Alnwick.
At the other end Gateshead, who are six points clear of Stags, have been reduced to pot-shots from distance by Mansfield’s solid looking rearguard.
Gateshead had the first site at goal in the opening minute when former Stag John Shaw tested Marriott with a weak shot from distance.
But it was Stags who really should have taken the lead a minute later when top-scorer Matt Green latched on to a slack back-pass before rounding the goalkeeper just inside the box.
But with the goal at his mercy, and just one defender trying to protect the exposed goal-line, Green dragged his shot woefully wide.
Four minutes later, in an almost carbon copy attack, Green picked off another short backpass by Clark and rounded Jak Alnwick.
But just as he was about to let fly Alnwick recovered his position well to force Green wide and smother the ball at his feet.
Mansfield, who were using their new 4-5-1 formation to good effect, finally made their pressure count on nine minutes when striker Ross Dyer showed Green how it should be done.
Excellent build up playing between Murray and Verma saw Dyer unmarked just inside the box.
And he made no mistake as he unleashed a rasping right foot effort into the bottom corner to fire Paul Cox’s men ahead.
It was nothing more than lively Mansfield, who were searching for their first win in four games, deserved after their enterprising start to the game.
Former Stags midfielder Kyle Nix fired a warning shot on 14 minutes when he burst into the box only to see his effort well blocked by Verma.
It was a rare foray into the Stags danger zone for the north east side, who were being harried at every opportunity and given little time on the ball by the Mansfield rearguard.
It was nearly two on 15 minutes when a rampaging Kieron Freeman nearly fired in an unlikely second with a miss-hit cross, which had to be acrobatically tipped over the bar by an alert Alnwick.
On the half hour mark the lively Green found space in the box following good play down the right by Stevenson. But his shot was blocked by a diving defender.
A moment later Stevenson, making just his second Mansfield Town start after an injury-ravished season, showed his threat with a bursting run through midfield.
He then dinked the ball over the defence into the empty space, but Dyer was unable to loft the ball over Alnwick and into the goal and only found the roof of the net.
Struggling Gateshead, who were unbeaten in five going into the game, began to show their frustration after Nix was once again reduced to hopeful pot-shots from distance on 37 minutes.
Five minutes before the break more good link up play between Green and Stevenson nearly doubled the home side’s lead.
Tireless Green lead the line beautifully as he picked up a ball in the channel before beating his man to the byline.
He then picked out another well-timed forward run by Stevenson. But the former Eastwood midfielder was unable to hit the target from 18 yards out.
It was further encouragement for the fluid home side who looked dangerous in attack and solid at the back throughout the opening period.
Gateshead reminded Stags they would need that second goal just before the interval when Clark rose well at a Nix corner to power a header straight at Marriott.