AFC Mansfield defeated last season’s champions, Westella Hanson, to go top of the league at Forest Town on Saturday.
In a tense and competitive encounter a brace from Dean Rick and a headed goal from top scorer Mark Carter was enough to secure the points despite the visitors drawing level in the first half.
AFC took the lead after just 9 minutes, Danny Naylor threading the ball through to Rick who drew the keeper before firing past him into the bottom left corner of the net.
The visitors came back strongly and Mark Frost got down well to Dodson’s low driven effort on 14 minutes. Frost was again in action after 17 minutes parrying Andy Bagshaw’s powerful header from a Tom Dent corner.
Matt Draper then did well to block Mike Pecora’s volley as Westella were looking likely to equalise.
AFC should have doubled their lead when Rick had his effort saved by Rick Watson and Ricky Chambers follow up was hoisted over the bar.
The inevitable equaliser came on 34 minutes, Tom Dent getting the finishing touch as AFC failed to clear their lines.
Watson did well to deny Carl Haslam, tipping his low drive around the post for a corner. Dent had Frost at full stretch on 40 minutes, his shot however drifted wide of the far post.
AFC restored their lead just before the break, another great run from Haslam with his low driven cross finding Rick who made no mistake from 6 yards.
So, 2-1 at the break and the home side received a roasting from Manager Micky Taylor which seemed to have the desired effect and they came out with much more of a purpose about them.
Joe Clement went down in the box under a challenge from Joe Meehan and from the resulting spot kick Frost went down to his left to pull off a superb save.
Watson was hurt in a 50/50 clash with Rick the referee waved play on and Haslam saw his effort headed off the line by Chris Plummer. From the corner Draper saw his looped header land on the roof of the net on 67 minutes. Watson was called into action on 75 minutes to turn Buxton’s effort around the post for a corner.
Another fine save from Watson, this time turning a Haslam drive around the post for a corner. From the resulting Buxton corner Matt Draper rose at the far post to head the ball back across goal where Mark Carter got his head on the ball to force it past Watson to make it 3-1.
Buxton, McLane and Haslam all had chances to extend AFC’s lead in the final minutes and Man of the Match Mark Frost made another superb save just before the end of the game to keep the two goal advantage.
Next up is a top of the table clash with Ollerton Town on Tuesday 21st at Ollerton.
AFC Mansfield: Frost, Buxton, Meehan (Short 65), Draper, McGurk (c), Naylor (Armstrong 76), Carter, Chambers, Rick, Haslam, McLane. Subs not used: Staniforth, Patel, Witton.
Westella Hanson: Watson (c), Walmsley, Stone, Bagshaw, Plummer, Andrews, Dodson (North 71), Clement D, Pecora, Clement J, Dent. Subs not used: Shortland & Felgate.
Referee: Mr Wayne Gray.
Assistants: Mr Graham Taylor & Mr Phil Holmes.
Man of the Match: Mark Frost.