AFC Mansfield produced a clinical and professional performance to defeat title hopefuls Harworth Colliery 3-0 on Saturday.
Goals from Danny Tighe, Callum Green and Joe Naylor did the damage against a very good Harworth side that few will beat this season.
The visitors took the lead on seven minutes when Danny Tighe curled a superb free-kick from 25 yards into the top corner after Ryan Paczkowski had fouled Dean Rick.
A minute later Rick’s rasping effort was turned around the post by Steve Wibberley in the Harworth goal.
Captain Chris Timons and Mat Draper were commanding as they kept the lively pairing of Paczkowski and Tom Pick quiet, with full-backs Danny McLane and Tighe snuffing out any advances down the flanks.
The Bulls’ went two up on 23 minutes, Tighe and Joe Naylor worked a throw-in which allowed Tighe to deliver the ball to Callum Green in the box.
Green’s superb turn and shot left the Harworth defence flatfooted and the visitors were looking good value for the lead.
Chris Belshaw had his edge of the box effort easily saved by Sheppard on 35 minutes as the home side looked for a way back into the match.
Rick went close on 40 minutes when his initial effort was saved by Wibberley and the follow up again foiled by the alert keeper.
Green fired an effort wide of the mark and, on the stroke of half time, Lloyd Wilkinson saw his 20 yard effort zip past Sheppard’s right handpost.
Joe Naylor gave ‘The Bulls’ the perfect start to the second half as they went 3-0 up with a near post touch from a Tighe corner. There was a slight hint of a touch off a defender but Naylor claimed the goal.
The game was effectively over, but in the final 10 minutes Sheppard had to be at his best to deny Paczkowski with a superb one-handed save and a few minutes later Tom Pick fired over the bar from the edge of the
The Bulls play their first home game of the season when they entertain Thoresby Colliery at The Forest Town Stadium next Saturday.
Harworth Colliery: Wibberley, Hardman, Brewster, Woodward, Forbes (Edmundson 45 mins), Belshaw, Paczkowski, Wilkinson (Tomlinson 78 mins), Hilton, Sides (Walker 45 mins), Pick. Subs not used: Smith, Latham.
AFC Mansfield: Sheppard, Tighe (Capuano 70 mins), McLane, Draper, Timons
(Black 60 mins), D. Naylor, Buxton, J.Naylor, Rick, Green (Robinson 75 MINS),
Carter. Subs not used: Wilson, rodger.
Referee: Gareth Carlile.
Man of the Match: Danny Tighe.