NCEL Division One newcomers AFC Mansfield eased to a 3-1 home win over Hallam on Saturday with goals from Carl Haslam, Phil Buxton and Dean Rick.
Grant Allott did pull the visitors level at the start of the second half, but the home side’s attacking prowess was always going to prevail.
It was very much one way traffic in the first half, but very frustrating for the Bulls as chance after chance went begging.
Carl Haslam had the perfect opportunity to set the home side on their way in just the third minute, but he lifted his eight yard effort high over the bar. Then 10 minutes later Ashley Kitchen saw his effort rise over the bar, although the chance was not as clear cut.
A minute later and probably the best effort of the first half fell to Ben Kistell for the visitors, who rattled the upright from 25 yards with Gavin Saxby beaten.
The chances kept coming and Haslam saw his looping header clear the bar from an excellent cross by Phil Buxton on 20 minutes and keeper Jamie Dean’s legs denied Joe Naylor a minute later.
Man of the match Ashley Kitchen made a surging run forward, taking him past four defenders, and the visitors were pleased to put his cross out for a corner.
Joe Naylor then missed an absolute sitter on 34 minutes, slicing the ball wide in front of an open goal 10 yards out.
Brother Danny Naylor forced Dean into a wonderful save on 39 minutes, his 30-yard low drive turned around the post at full stretch by the visiting keeper.
Just when they thought it would be deadlocked at half-time Phil Buxton was adjudged to have been fouled.
The referee initially indicated a free kick on the edge of the box but after consulting with his assistant signalled a penalty.
Carl Haslam stepped up and drilled the ball past Dean to give the Bulls a deserved lead going into the break.
Hallam looked much brighter at the start of the second half and took the game to AFC.
They were rewarded in the 50th minute when Kistell’s free kick was parried by Saxby and Grant Allott drove the ball home from six yards.
A rare mistake at the back for the home side with Timons, Kitchen and Ludlow normally so frugal with chances.
Two minutes later Joe Naylor hooked a volley just over the bar from the edge of the box as the home side re-established its dominance.
Phil Buxton restored the lead on 58 minutes, finishing off a neat move involving Joe Naylor and Dean Rick by firing past Dean from 10 yards off a Rick low cross.
The points were secured on 65 minutes with Joe Naylor involved again, this time laying the ball off for Rick to fire home a low shot from just outside the box.
Both teams made a raft of chances in the final 20 minutes but none of them produced any worthwhile chances on goal.
AFC MANSFIELD: Saxby, Buxton, Wilson (Bettison 60), Ludlow, Timons, Kitchen, Naylor D., Naylor J., Rick, Haslam (Sargent 83), Kimberley (Brewin 78). Subs not used: Tighe, Plumbe.
HALLAM FC: Dean, Ramsden (Fairweather 77), Whitaker, Flannery, Shires, Rosser, Wade (Hambling 80), Mirfin, Kistell, Allott, Osborne (Greaves 70). Subs not used: Sykes, Bark.
REFEREE: Andrew Price of South Yorkshire.
BULLS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Ashley Kitchen.