Matt Green’s 13th goal of the season finally eased goal-shy Mansfield Town back to winning ways as they saw off rivals Carlisle United 2-0 at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags had suffered a miserable 438 minutes without a goal before top scorer Green’s breakthrough on 63 minutes today.
Home nerves were finally eased when Shaq Coulthirst then smashed in a second on 76 minutes and the Stags had a first win in five in the bag.
Carlisle have now gone six games without a win or a goal and former Stags boss Keith Curle has work to do to stop their superb season fading into nothing.
Carlisle had hammered Stags 5-2 at Brunton Park, but today they could have no complaints as Stags dominated throughout, as they have done in much of recent games, but this time getting the reward of a couple of goals, having again wasted several good earlier openings.
Despite a cut head, Danny Rose was everywhere and man of the match, but only just ahead of Coulthirst, who scored one and made one.
The win pushed Stags up a place to ninth and cut the five-point gap to the play-offs to three points.
The Stags line-up showed three changes. Kean’s return in goal ahead of schedule after bruised bones was a surprise, Shearer dropping to the bench.
In also came front pair Danny Rose and Shaq Coulthirst, Lee Collins and Ashley Hemmings missing out and Green dropping deeper into a midfield role.
The United line-up included two ex-Stags in defender Michael Raynes and winger Reggie Lambe.
Stags boss Evans served a one game touchline ban today for his dismissal to the stands at Grimsby.
And there was warm applause from the home fans for ex-Stags boss Keith Curle as he walked towards the Carlisle dug-out.
Krystian Pearce kept the captain’s armband after taking it over on Tuesday night.
A brisk start from the Stags won them a corner after only four minutes, but Bennett’s header was off target.
There was then a lengthy hold up after Rose and Tom Miller clashed heads, Rose eventually continuing with a bandage round his head but Tom Miller had to be replaced by McQueen, going off with blood pouring from what looked likely to be a broken nose.
Coulthirst had the first shot of the game on 15 minutes as he tried a swerving 20 yard effort which Gillespie hung onto well.
On 20 minutes, despite several attempts to foul him, White managed to power on forwards before dragging a low shot wide of the Carlisle goal.
A minute later Green laid a ball back towards Benning on the left and his first time cross was headed over by Rose, which finally saw his bandage come off.
Then Rose lofted a forward ball into the box which Coulthirst reached and made space for a low shot from a tight angle on the right that forced Gillespie into a low near post save.
Stags suffered a blow on 28 minutes when skipper Pearce limped off after stretching into a challenge and was eventually replaced by Howkins after two minutes playing with 10 men.
Rose suffered another clash of heads, this time with Raynes, and the referee decided Rose was guilty and booked him.
United finally threatened on 31 minutes as a free kick was helped on into the box and Shaun Miller tried to lob Kean but lifted the ball onto the top of the net.
Then a strange moment saw Stags break well but, with Green and Coulthirst alongside each other, but both stopped assuming offside.
McQueen was booked on 34 minutes for hacking down an increasingly bruised Rose.
Mansfield finally had the ball in the net on 35 minutes as Green sent it across goal where Rose headed in, bit from an offside position.
Rose thought he had scored on 37 minutes when White put the ball in low from the right only to see Gillespie somehow manage to claw away his close range finish.
Proctor wasn’t far wide with a neat half-volley on the turn on 41 minutes after good control 20 yards out.
Seven minutes were added for the earlier injuries and as we entered those Coulthirst might have done better when a corner was headed to him 20 yards out and he disappointingly sliced his half-volley over the bar.
After Benning has sent an early chance wide, Bennett failed to net the first decent opening on 50 minutes as MacDonald did superbly well to reach a ball destined for a goalkick and pulled back a low cross that Bennett sent first time at Gillespie.
The scoreless agony went on for the home side on 57 minutes as Gillespie blocked Coulthirst’s fierce shot and Rose could only find the sidenetting with his follow-up.
But on 63 minutes the home side finally broke through.
Coulthirst had the ball wide left with two defenders in front of him but managed to create space to arrow in a cross between them and Green, eight yards from goal and central, cushioned a perfect header wide of a helpless Gillespie.
The home side then began to take firm control and won three more corners on the trot.
But there was a moment’s worry as McQueen headed an Adams cross wide at the far post.
On 74 minutes Rose sent Coulthirst down the centre. The defenders held him up well, but he looked up and fed Hamilton for a first time shot that was straight at the keeper.
But Mansfield’s second goal came out of the blue on 76 minutes.
Coulthirst had defenders in front of him on the left of the box but made his move and sent a rasping low shot across the keeper and inside the far post.
Rose was given a superb reception by the home fans for his all-action display when he was replaced by Arquin on 80 minutes.
O’Sullivan stung Kean’s hands with a 20 yard shot on 87 minutes as the visitors looked for a lifeline.
STAGS: Kean, White, Pearce (Howkins 29), Bennett, Benning, Green, Whiteman, Byrom, MacDonald (Hamilton 70), Rose (Arquin 80), Coulthirst. Subs not used: Shearer, McGuire, Baxendale, Potter.
CARLISLE: Gillespie, Grainger, Joyce, Raynes, Proctor (Joachim 60), Adams, Brisley, Lambe, S. Miller, T. Miller (McQueen 9, O’Sullivan 72), Liddle. Subs not used: Crocombe, Ward, Hooper, Waring.
REFEREE: Brendan Malone of Wiltshire.
ATTENDANCE: 4,463 (561 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Danny Rose.