MAGNIFICENT Mansfield Town moved up into third in the table after an amazing seven-goal demolition job on hapless Barrow at Field Mill today.
Stags were brilliant from the first whistle to the last as they had this game won by half-time with Louis Briscoe celebrating his second Stags hat-trick.
Mansfield were 2-0 up in 17 minutes and 4-0 up at the break, having also had a penalty saved, while Barrow had their keeper stretchered off at 3-0 with a knee injury.
Matt Rhead and Anthony Howell opened their Mansfield goal accounts, Matt Green hit number 24 of the season, and Lindon Meikle crowned his best display since joining the club with the other.
It was the first time Stags had scored seven since 1994 and the first time they had won 7-0 since 1975.
That is now six wins and a draw with Fleetwood in the last seven games for Paul Cox’s men who now look a great bet for the play-offs.
Barrow arrived with a faint chance of the play-off themselves and a tough reputation but were literally torn to shreds at will in one of the most one-sided games ever seen at Field Mill in their fourth defeat on the bounce.
Hero Briscoe replaced Worthington as Stags reverted to a 4-4-2 formation against a Barrow side who included recent Stags loan defender Paul Edwards.
However, Edwards had a nightmare afternoon as he conceded a penalty and looked generally off the pace as Stags raced into a 3-0 lead and was one of two players subbed after just 31 minutes.
Marriott took charge of a dangerous bouncing ball between him and Riley on the edge of the box in the opening minute to launch a huge clearance over the roof of the main Ian Greaves Stand!
Geohaghon then had two early chances to launch in his long throws from the right, the first headed on by Dyer and clipping a defender before hitting the outside of the Barrow post.
Meikle almost got Green clean away with a low ball down the centre, but Pearson was quickly out his box to win the chase.
Stags continued their powerful start with two more Geohaghon throws and, from the second, Meikle had a shot deflect wide for the first corner.
But the goal arrived on nine minutes. Murray sprayed a volleyed pass out to O’Neill on the right who launched the ball in early. Dyer helped it on to Green who was forced wide, drilled the ball in low at goal where Briscoe was able to smash it high into the net at the second time of asking after his initial effort was blocked on the line.
Barrow took 13 minutes to launch a real threat as Rutherford began a series of neat passes that ended with Smith firing well wide.
Green wasted a great chance of doubling that lead from the penalty spot on 15 minutes.
Meikle had tried to put him clear but saw his pass blocked. Meikle raced onto the loose ball and into the box where Edwards was late with his tackle and took both Meikle’s legs.
It was a clear cut a penalty as you will see. But Green did not hit the best penalty as he tried to place it to Pearson’s left, the keeper guessing correctly and the kick at a nice height for him to grab.
But two minutes later he made up for it with some good approach play on the left as he came inside two defenders before picking out an unmarked Briscoe to the right.
Briscoe made the Barrow defence pay for their lack of concentration as he simply controlled and then curled a brilliant finish high inside the far angle, giving Pearson no chance.
Good work from Meikle set up Dyer, but he wanted a touch instead of shooting first time and that gave Barrow a chance to block.
Barrow cleared another Geohaghon throw as far as Meikle who blazed a rising shot well over.
Then on 25 minutes Howell’s brave low header sent the ball in front of Briscoe to his right who slammed a powerful half-volley on target which the keeper managed to parry.
Barrow’s defence continued to creak under the intense pressure and Pearson again had to race from his goal to deny Green after Geohaghon had slotted him through again.
But a third goal seemed inevitable – and it came on 28 minutes.
Geohaghon launched a long throw missile from the right and Howell rose at the near post to flick a header that found the net off the inside of the far post for his first Mansfield goal.
The pressure continued with O’Neill’s near post cross being met by both Howell and Dyer and, in each other’s way, unable to direct it on target.
Desperate Barrow made a double change on 31 minutes with Edwards and Boyes replaced by Harvey and Mackreth.
But still Stags pressured as Green terrified them with a thrilling run inside two defenders. However, his finish didn’t match the approach as he sliced the ball well wide.
Keeper Pearson did well to hold the ball under pressure from Dyer and Geohaghon in the next attack, but when he went down heavily and needed treatment, eventually a stretcher was called for and he was carried off in obvious agony.
On came sub keeper Dixon and all the Barrow subs had been used six minutes before the break.
Howell won an excellent tackle on the edge of the box to gain Stags possession on 41 minutes. And that led to goal number four as Green squared the ball to Meikle to his left who looked up and perfectly picked out the bottom right hand corner past the helpless new keeper.
After five added minutes, Barrow were relieved to hear the half-time whistle after being torn apart by rampant Mansfield.
After, no doubt, a few choice words from their manager, the Bluebirds were sent back out early for the second half.
But straight away they were under the cosh again, defending two more long ‘Exodus Exocets’ and relieved to see Briscoe’s hard, low cross skid across goal without anyone there to tuck it home.
Mansfield then won a 55th minute corner which saw O’Neill pick out Geohaghon for a header back across goal that Green just failed to get the vital touch on in front of goal.
But that led to the fifth goal as this time it was Riley who headed O’Neill’s corner back across goal and this time Green stopped to accurately plant his header straight into the centre of the goal.
O’Neill’s next corner was met by Geohaghon in a similar position to his last equaliser on Tuesday night, but this time he was too high.
On 64 minutes Green was given a rest and Rhead sent on for a run.
And three minutes later it was 6-0. Another Geohaghon throw was cleared as far as Briscoe just outside the box who controlled and then zipped a dipping volley high under the right angle to complete an excellent hat-trick.
Andrew came on for his Mansfield debut on 69 minutes in place of Sutton and, three minutes later, the excellent Dyer made way for Hutchinson.
Stags were in seventh heaven on 77 minutes as Rhead opened his Mansfield account. Meikle attacked the defence from the left and took the ball along the box before teeing up Rhead, who drew the defenders towards him and then let fly with a low shot that took a slight deflection en route.
The torment went on for poor Barrow as Dixon dived to the right to turn away a Geohaghon header from another O’Neill corner. Two more corners followed with Howell having another low prodded effort blocked almost on the line as the home fans chanted ‘we want eight’.
Dixon had to save again as Howell threw himself into a header from O’Neill’s long free kick.
Then O’Neill received a clever return backheeled pass from Briscoe and raced on before sending his finish into the sidenetting.
New boy Andrews got one on target with a curling free kick over the wall from 20 yards but Dixon was alert.
Bolland brought down Meikle a minute into time added on to receive a yellow card before the whistle finally sounded to put Barrow out of their misery.
STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Geohaghon, Riley, Sutton (Andrew 69); Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Meikle, Green (Rhead 64), Dyer (Hutchinson 72). Subs not used: Redmond, Worthington.
BARROW: Pearson (Dixon 39); Lomax, Bolland, Hone, Edwards (Harvey 31); Rutherford, Smith, Owen, Skelton; Cook, Boyes (Mackreth 31). Subs not used: Baker, Jackson.
REFEREE: Karl Evans of Wigan.
CAUTION: Barrow – Hone 74mins (repeated foul play).
ATTENDANCE: 2,510 (70 away).
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Lindon Meikle.