IT was a very happy New Year’s Day for Mansfield Town as they avenged their Boxing Day home defeat by neighbours Alfreton Town with a comprehensive 3-0 win at the Impact Arena this afternoon.
The Reds were looking to complete a double after their 2-1 success at Mansfield.
But, after both sides had made hard work of it on a difficult surface in the first half, the Stags grabbed the lead through Exodus Geohaghon two minutes from the break.
Things might have been different had the referee given Paul Clayton a penalty instead of booking him for diving on 56 minutes.
Instead the Stags bagged a second through Junior Daniel a minute later.
From then on it was one-way traffic and the only surprise was that the visitors didn’t add any more than the third goal from John Dempster on 72 minutes.
It was the perfect way for action-starved Stags to start 2013 and warm up for Sunday’s big FA Cup clash with Liverpool.
Boss Paul Cox made three changes and went for a new formation.
Cox opted to revert to 4-3-3 with Adam Murray, John Thompson and Junior Daniel coming in.
Ritchie Sutton missed out through suspension while Ben Hutchinson and Louis Briscoe were the other two to make way.
Howell was penalised for a late tackle on Quinn in the first 30 seconds but no card was shown.
After a scrappy opening seven minutes, ex-Stag Arnold was the first to try his luck, running at the Stags defence before pulling a low shot wide.
Clayton then tried to put Arnold clear only to see Marriott quickly leave his line to get there first.
A loose pass from Bradley set Stags on a counter-attack which ended with Clements firing a disappointing shot wide of the near post from the left.
Law then sent Arnold racing into the box on the right where he neatly sidestepped Geohaghon before trying to beat Marriott at his near post, the keeper turning the blast aside for a corner.
Meikle then controlled a ball into the box from Dempster and rolled it back for Clements, whose finish was always flying over.
Clements sights were also well off as he curled a 28 yard free kick well over the bar to the jeers of the home fans behind the goal.
Murray was next to fire wide with a first time effort from a half-clearance on 19 minutes as the game struggled to catch alight.
Daniel just failed to get his head on a Meikle cross, then Howell was too high with a hopeful attempt from outside the box as home keeper Barnes awaited his first save.
Stags won their first corner on 25 minutes which saw Clements curl it harmlessly low into the near sidenetting as his afternoon showed no sign of improving.
Marriott left his box to concede a throw as Arnold chased a Bradley through ball in a rare home threat.
On the half-hour Green pulled a low ball back from the right by-line and Daniel ran in to meet it with a low finish that clipped Law’s heel to pass just wide for a corner.
On 32 minutes Stags finally had a shot on target as Daniel fired straight at Barnes from 20 yards.
Clayton set up Arnold for a shot that was blocked and Bradley’s long range follow-up was always wide as the game screamed out for a goal.
Mansfield forced two more corner kicks with nothing to show for them.
Alfreton finally carved out the chance of the game so far on 39 minutes.
Law clipped a great ball in from the right which was controlled by Clayton who then poked his finish narrowly wide of the far post with only the keeper to beat.
Instead it was Mansfield who broke the deadlock two minutes from the interval.
Clements floated the ball to the far post where Dempster nodded it back across and Geohaghon applied the finishing touch with a close range header.
It was almost 2-0 soon after from another corner as Kempson got in a vital block on Dempster’s finish and seconds later Murray sent a 30 yard shot skidding through everyone and narrowly wide as the visitors ended the first 45 minutes with a flourish.
The first threat of the second half saw Meikle work his way through a succession of challenges to pass the ball square to Daniel to his left, but the finish was wildly over from 20 yards.
Law then got in an important header as Daniel tried to meet a Thompson cross.
Alfreton wanted a penalty as Killock slipped Clayton in on goal on 56 minutes, the striker going down as he tried to round the diving Marriott.
But the referee saw it as a dive and instead produced a yellow card for Clayton.
Alfreton’s misery was then increased as Stags made it 2-0 a minute later.
Green had a near post blast well saved by Barnes and the ball came back out to Meikle.
His cross the the far post took a deflection which saw the ball roll out of the reach of Barnes towards the incoming Daniel who swept it home from close range.
Thompson was added to the book for his foul on Bradley on the hour mark.
Stags began to take an iron grip with two more corners, the second cleared back out to Clements whose subsequent cross saw Dempster force a great save out of Barnes, turning his diving header over the bar.
Alfreton clearly needed a lift and on 63 minutes they withdrew Clayton and Russell and sent on Taylor and Meadows.
Immediately Arnold got to the right by-line and sent in an a low cross in front of goal but too firm for anyone to be able to reach it.
On 67 minutes Quinn had produce a goalline clearance to keep out Howell’s free close range header from a Daniel cross, set up by Green’s backheel near the corner flag.
That goal would have settled the game without a doubt.
A hopeful Daniel shot from distance dropped wide of the far post soon afterwards.
Beevers was booked for flattening Law with 20 minutes to go.
On 72 minutes the points were sealed. Clements clipped in a low free kick towards goal from 25 yards where Dempster got the vital touch to beat Barnes.
A minute later Law sent Arnold away, the winger seeing Marriott block his finish and the ball then hit Arnold and roll out for a goalkick.
Quinn failed to get his header on target from a long Law free kick, then Tomlinson lifted a 20 yard effort well over as the Reds floundered for a reply.
From a throw on the left Howell cleverly flicked the ball over the head of Killock before volleying wide with only the keeper to beat.
Barnes then got his legs in the way of a low Green finish as Mansfield enjoyed their afternoon with Alfreton barely able to wait for the sound of the final whistle
Meikle sent Green down the right and he cut inside at the near post before seeing his goalbound finish clip Kempson and sail just wide for a corner.
Kempson stayed down hurt and eventually left the field to leave the Reds down to 10 men, having used all three substitutes already.
Barnes had to dive to his right to grab the ball after it came off the head of team mate Killock, who was then booked on 86 minutes for pulling back Green.
Alfreton forced two corners, but the visitors hung onto their clean sheet.
Geohaghon blocked a Meadows shot in the next raid and Arnold crashed the follow-up out of the ground.
Emerton then forced a good save out of Marriott, the keeper then bravely down at the feet of Tomlinson to deny him with the follow-up.
ALFRETON: Barnes, Law, Quinn, Kempson, Brown, Clayton (Taylor 63), Bradley (Emerton 80), Arnold, Russell (Meadows 63), Tomlinson, Killock. Subs not used: Streete, Wilson.
STAGS: Marriott; Thompson, Dempster, Geohaghon, Beevers; Clements (Hutchinson 77), Murray, Howell; Meikle, Green, Daniel. Subs not used: Jones, Speight, Rhead, Stevenson.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce.
ATTENDANCE: 1,537 (756 away).