A BIGGEST crowd of the season saw Mansfield Town crown a perfect week in the club’s recent history by beating Lincoln City 2-1 at Field Mill to move ever nearer to the play-offs.
Following his purchase of the Field Mill freehold, chairman John Radford had called on the people of Mansfield to come out in record numbers to back the club’s promotion bid.
And that is exactly what they did as 4,838 supporters packed into Field Mill to eclipse the previous best for the season of 3,997 on the opening day of the season against Bath.
The fans were not left disappointed as Stags, despite a lacklustre first 45 minutes which led to just one chance, turned on the second half style to comfortably see off former boss David Holdsworth’s Imps.
Ross Dyer capped a man-of-the-match performance to open the scoring just 64 seconds in the second half when he latched on to a low Luke O’Neill cross to prod home past Joe Anyon.
Mansfield continued to pile the pressure on their relegation-threatened neighbours during an impressive spell and took a firm grip on the game on 58 minutes.
Substitute Lindon Meikle showed his ever-present danger as he cut beautifully inside from the left touchline before laying the ball off to Gary Roberts.
Roberts underlined his class to hammer an inch-perfect strike along the ground from 25 yards to the wild cheers of the Field Mill fans.
It was the first time Mansfield, who have now won five home games on the trot, had beaten Lincoln at Field Mill since winning 2-1 on September 2001.
Stags are now just one point off Southport in the last play-off place with a game in hand and could go into the top five for the first time since 27th September if they can beat Cambridge United on Tuesday night.
Skipper Adam Murray failed to recover from the ankle injury he picked up towards the end of last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Tamworth and was replaced by Anthony Howell.
Stags also made two other changes with flying winger Adam Smith, who sparked the Tamworth fightback, replaced Lindon Meikle, while Martin Riley replaced Paul Edwards in the defence.
Lincoln City, managed by former Stags boss David Holdsworth, named old-boys Tyronne Thompson and Jefferson Louis in their starting line-up.
Ahead of the game the party atmosphere was cranked up moments before kick-off with Steve Hymas and the fans thanking chairman John Radford for purchasing the Field Mill freehold.
It should have been 1-0 to Stags after just six minutes when top-scorer Matt Green failed to get any real contact on Luke O’Neill’s in-swinging free-kick from just two yards out, with any firm contact certain to find the back of the net.
Mansfield continued to pile the pressure on their relegation-threatened neighbours, with Ritchie Sutton the latest to fire a warning shot when he curled an effort from distance high and wide after eight minutes.
At the other end Robbie Williams nearly entertained the visiting fans, before seeing his goal-bound effort superbly blocked for a corner by a diving Martin Riley.
The Imps began to weather the storm and should have done better after 20 minutes when former Stags Jefferson Louis fired a tame effort straight at Alan Marriott after Riley had fluffed his clearance.
After a lively start winger Adam Smith was replaced by Lindon Meikle after he failed to shrug off an injury to his lower back.
Matt Green had his 23rd goal of the season chalked off on 27 minutes after a neat turn and finish was ruled offside.
Joe Anyon was well placed in the Lincoln goal to stop a speculative curling effort from Louis Briscoe, after the winger took full advantage of some indecision in the City defence on 32 minutes.
Substitute Lindon Meikle then did his best to open the scoring on 35 minutes when his bursting run from the centre circle end with a well-hit shot from 25 yards being comfortably claimed by Anyon.
Green was the next to go close on 39 minutes after good work from strike-partner Ross Dyer gave the Stags’ top-scorer a sniff on goal.
But Green failed to shrug off the attentions of his marker and fired straight into the chest of Anyon as Mansfield struggled to get into their attacking stride.
Meikle again got into a good position just a minute before half-time after Briscoe slid the ball across the edge of the box.
The winger then cut inside the box, but his right-foot shot failed to have enough curl to trouble Anyon as City did enough to go into the break all square.
Stags started the second half on fire and took the lead after just 64 seconds of the restart when the lively Ross Dyer got on the end of an O’Neill centre to slot home from inside the six yard box.
Louis embarrassingly scuffed an effort so far wide it went out for a throw in on 50 minutes after a good pass by Pacquette saw him go goalside of the Mansfield defence.
Stags took a firm grip on the game after 58 minutes when Meikle’s jinking run from the left touchline picked out Gary Robers.
The midfielder then drilled an inch-perfect effort from all off 25 yards into the bottom corner of Anyon’s goal as Mansfield continued to pile on the pressure.
The goal was greeted by cheers and choruses of ‘Yellow, Yellow’ around the West Stand as the Field Mill faithful celebrated a memorable week for the club.
It could have been 3-0 after 70 minutes when Meikle was once again allowed far too much time and space to power through the midfield into the Lincoln defensive third.
But Meikle was unable to keep his shot down as he skied his effort into the Quarry Lane end.
Briscoe underlined the confidence running through the Stags side on 81 minutes when he tried his luck without success from 30 yards.
Meikle so nearly found the goal his energetic performance deserved on 83 minutes when he brought a long ball over the top down beautifully before drilling a low shot across the goal which was well saved by Anyon.
Lincoln pulled a goal back three minutes into stoppage time when a Thompson shot wickedly deflected off Mark McCammon after Marriott had already dived the other way.
But it was too little too late as Mansfield held on for a famous win.
MANSFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Marriott 7, Riley 7, Briscoe7, Green 7, Dyer 9, O’Neill 8, Sutton 7, Smith 6 (Meikle 23 mins 8), Howell 7, Geohaghon 7, Roberts 7 (Worthington 85 mins 5). Subs not used: Redmond, Rhead, Hutchinson.
LINCOLN CITY (4-4-2): Anyon 7, Nutter 7, Williams 7, Gowling 7, Power 7, Louis 6, Russell 6 (Almond 61 mins), Pacquete 6(Taylor 61 mins), Robson 7, Bore 6 (McCammon 79 mins 5), Thompson 6. Subs not used: Draper, Watson.
ATTENDANCE: 4,838 (627away)
REFEREE: Richard Clark of Northumberland.
BOOKINGS: Mansfield - Briscoe (40 mins – foul); Lincoln – Thompson (75 mins – foul)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ross Dyer.