MANSFIELD Town faced a huge task to avoid an embarrassing home defeat by struggling neighbours Alfreton Town after letting the Reds race into a 2-0 half-time lead at Field Mill today.
The Reds had lost five successive away games, but Stags had only won three of their eight home games and, despite starting favourites, derby day once again saw the form book thrown out of the window.
Anton Brown headed Alfreton in front on 13 minutes with Paul Clayton making it 2-0 on 21 minutes.
At the other end Matt Green failed to put away any of five openings that presented themselves to him while Ritchie Sutton saw his header cleared off the line.
A poor early loose pass from Kendrick and then poor control from Riley almost allowed Wilson a sniff in the first minute, Sutton across quickly to cover.
But Green might have put Stags ahead on four minutes when he outmuscled Franks to reach Meikle’s forward ball.
But, having done the hard work, from eight yards he got under his finish and ballooned it over the crossbar.
Two minutes later Dyer won a crunching tackle on the left and then sent Green on his way, the striker cutting inside, delaying and then curling a low effort round the far post.
On seven minutes Wilson should have netted for Alfreton with a free header from seven yards from Moult’s lofted free kick, instead sending the ball straight at Marriott.
Day had his first save to make when Green flicked a header goalwards from an O’Neill free kick.
However, the Reds grabbed a shock lead as the 13th minute proved unlucky for Mansfield.
Wilson flicked on a long throw from the left and Brown popped up with a diving header that just beat the flailing fingertips of Marriott as he dived to his left.
Kendrick was too high on 17 minutes after loose Alfreton defending.
But Stags were still playing poorly and Clayton doubled Alfreton’s advantage on 21 minutes with a moment of pure farce at the back by the home side.
Moult’s left wing cross was allowed to bounce through a crowded box and almost creep in, Marriott forced to throw himself to his left to keep the ball out, only to see Mullan do well to keep the ball in play and flick it back in front of goal where Clayton headed home from point black range.
Green had another opportunity soon after from O’Neill’s through ball only to shoot low and wide of the far post.
A minute later Green turned well seven yards from goal to thread a low shot on target which Day turned aside for a corner.
The derby battle took its toll as Riley needed to change his blooded shirt after treatment for a cut head, then on 29 minutes Jarman came on for the injured Law for Alfreton.
Moult saw the game’s first booking for delaying a Stags free kick.
Connor thought he had won a penalty after he felt he was hauled down from behind by Franks, the referee deciding Connor was backing in and giving the decision the other way.
On 31 minutes O’Neill curled in a corner which Sutton headed firmly towards the angle only to see Hall block on the line.
Wilson’s foul on 33 minutes saw him join Moult in the book.
Stags’ frustrations continued and, after Kendrick needed lengthy treatment on his shoulder when landing awkwardly from a header, Meikle blazed a wild cross-cum-shot over from the right of the box.
The inevitable boos rang round the ground as Stags left the pitch knowing a mountain lay ahead in the second half.