IN-FORM Mansfield Town destroyed big-spending Newport County with a five star display in front of the live Premier Sports TV cameras tonight.
It was the first time since the end of the promotion-winning 1976/77 season that Stags had won four on the bounce without conceding a goal and it piled further pressure on Exiles boss Anthony Hudson as they crumbled to a humiliating fourth straight defeat.
Matt Green, who launched his career with Newport, began their downfall with his fifth goal in seven games after just 11 minutes.
He then set up Louis Briscoe for the second on 33 minutes as the pair terrorised the County defence.
It was mostly one-way traffic after Ross Dyer slid in the third six minutes into the second half and Briscoe and Luke O’Neill continued the spree to entertain the watching tea time Premier Sports TV audience.
Mansfield are now up to third in the table and have closed the gap on the top two, who both lost, to complete a day to remember.
So often Stags have flopped in front of the TV cameras or big home crowds but boss Paul Cox had spent all week keeping his in-form players’ feet on the ground and it worked a treat as they sounded a warning to the rest of the league.
Stags were unchanged for the third successive match and included again on the bench was defender Tom Naylor, who is just back from a week on trial at Derby County with a week at a Premiership club, reputed to be Fulham, ahead next week.
The Exiles, who have only won once all season, made two changes, bringing in Paul Robson and Ismail Yakubu.
Stags produced an immediate threat as Green chased a through ball down the right. But, unable to get clear, the move eventually petered out.
Briscoe then put a dangerous ball into the box from the right which saw Green have a shot blocked and Meikle put the follow-up wide.
Marriott did well to push the ball to safety as McAllister all of a sudden almost beat him to what had seemed an easy one for the keeper to deal with.
On six minutes Rodgers came inside to curl a delightful cross in for McAllister who was allowed to nod over from six yards and probably should have hit the target.
At the other end Thompson had to leave his box to stretch out a leg and deny Green in full flight.
Then Murray was too high with a firm shot from 25 yards after a Kendrick free kick was partially cleared.
The visitors were furious after a high boot from Howell left Miller needing treatment for a blow to the ribs. But Marriot grabbed the free kick ahead of two chasing white shirts.
Green was close again as Kendrick sent in a left wing free kick which Futcher tried to help on into Green’s path, the ball just reaching the keeper before he could get on the end of it.
But Green was celebrating his fifth goal in seven games on 11 minutes.
Briscoe’s pass slipped him into space in the box and Green clipped the ball past the advancing Thompson and in off the inside of the foot of the right hand post.
Buchanan and Rose both dragged shots from wide from distance.
The Exiles then won the game’s first corner from which Stags broke quickly through Briscoe, the winger eventually just unable to send Green clear with the final pass.
Thompson was fully behind O’Neill’s searing 30 yard attempt as Stags began to produce some sustained pressure.
Rose went down like he had been shot in the box before Howell even made contact and was lucky not to be booked let alone get the penalty kick he was looking for.
Meikle came so close to a second goal for the home side on 25 minutes as he slipped the ball between the legs of Warren on the left but curled a finish across goal and wide of the far post from a tight angle.
The impressive Green got his 12 yard header on target from Kendrick’s left wing cross only to see it sail straight at Thompson.
But Newport again had a sniff of a chance to get back into the game on the half-hour. Marriott spilled Baker’s cross from the left and, with the keeper on the floor, Rodgers blazed the loose ball over from 16 yards.
Three minutes later it was 2-0. Howell began the move, winning the ball in midfield and launching a long ball for Green to chase.
The striker won the chase, held off two defenders as he came inside and then laid a square pass to Briscoe to his right.
A quick burst of pace by Briscoe made him space to the right of Baker and his low finish across Thompson was perfection.
Newport survived two home corners before winning another of their own.
But Stags left the field for the half-time break to huge applause for their all-action first half and a deserved two-goal lead.
Newport desperately needed to find a way back into the contest but, within two minutes of the restart, they had a huge let-off as Green turned well 15 yards from goal but saw his dipping shot come back off the crossbar.
On 50 minutes Newport won a corner which saw Miller head Rose’s kick into the sidenetting at the near post.
Stags responded with Green holding the ball up on the edge of the box and then backheeling for Howell whose shot deflected wide for a corner.
McAllister curled a tame finish into Marriott’s hands from a County breakaway.
The next goal was always going to be crucial and it went to Mansfield on 56 minutes.
Green reached a long ball forward and picked out a great pass to send Briscoe into the right of the box. He drilled a low shot-cum-cross across goal where Dyer slid in at the far post to turn the ball home.
Newport threw Nat Jarvis into the action in place of Buchanan and within less than two minutes he was booked for his foul on Sutton.
Tempers were becoming heated and Briscoe and Doherty squared up after tangling near the halfway line.
Green was clearly enjoying his afternoon as a dragback just outside the box saw him zip in a ferocious low shot at Thompson.
On 71 Meikle came inside from the left and shot towards the far angle, Thompson throwing himself to his left to tip away for a corner.
But from that corner, it was 4-0 as the ball was cleared only to Briscoe 18 yard form goal who shaped up for a textbook volleyed finish that gave Thompson no chance on 72 minutes.
Three minutes later it was five as full back O’Neill got in on the act. Racing into the box, Green fed the ball to him and, despite being hauled back, the defender slipped a striker’s finish between Thompson’s legs.
Jarvis headed narrowly wide at the near post from a corner two minutes from the end as the players were drenched in a freak downpour.
But even that couldn’t spoil the celebrations at the end as Stags deservedly left the field to one of the nosiest ovations in a long time at Field Mill.
STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Futcher, Sutton, Kendrick; Briscoe, Murray, Howell (Worthington 80), Meikle (Smith 76); Dyer (Connor 84), Green. Subs not used: Redmond, Naylor.
NEWPORT: Thompson, Robson, Baker, Miller, Warren, Yakubu, Rose, McAllister, Doherty, Rodgers (Jardim 69), Buchanan (Jarvis 57). Subs not used: Harrison, Hughes, Hatswell.
REFEREE: Jeremy Simpson of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 2324 (121 away).
CAUTION: Newport – Jardin 59mins.