REPORT: Mansfield Town 3-1 Barnet

Stags win again.
Stags win again.

Magnificent Mansfield Town kept the pressure on the top three automatic promotion places with a convincing 3-1 win over bottom side Barnet at a cold and wet One Call Stadium this afternoon.

It was a ninth game unbeaten for Steve Evans' men, who sit fourth, and could have been even more convincing with Kane Hemmings and Alex MacDonald missing second half sitters.

MacDonald had Stags 1-0 up at the break with his 42nd minute finish and Will Atkinson made it 2-0 on 55 minutes before Rose added a third on 70 minutes.

Barnet did notch a late consolation as sub Simeon Akinola punished a short header back to his keeper from Rhys Bennett. But it was more than they deserved after a poor second half showing.

The Bees are now eight games without a win.

Mansfield's three transfer window signings all had to make do with a place on the bench.

With Mansfield having only lost once in their last 16 League Two outings, boss Evans stayed loyal to his players.

So striker Ricky Miller and midfielders Matt Penney and Adam King, who were all signed on loan this week, were among the substitutes.

However, Evans did make two changes with Atkinson and Paul Anderson brought in for Alfie Potter, dropped to the bench, and Zander Diamond, whose wife is due to give birth.

Striker Lee Angol missed out on a place in the squad with a groin strain.

Barnet arrived bottom of the table but having drawn their last two games under new head coach Graham Westley, who also chose to start with his three new signings on the bench today.

A scrappy start by both sides on the wet surface saw Akinde furious not to get a penalty under Pearce's challenge on six minutes, though it would have been a harsh one.

On 12 minutes Akinde slipped a good pass into Brindley on the right and Bennett was in quickly to block his attempted finish. But still neither keeper had been tested.

On 13 minutes Mansfield had a penalty appeal of their own turned down as Santos leaned an arm on Rose in the box and the striker crumpled to the ground, play waved on.

Coulthirst was then well over from distance from the game's first real goal attempts a minute later.

Nicholls then warmed Logan's hands with a stinging shot from 25 yards on 16 minutes.

Stags went straight upfield and, via a series of passes, worked the ball to MacDonald, who tried to place a curling finish inside the far post only to see it clip the post and go wide.

There was then a hold-up as referee Scott Oldham pulled up injured and had to be replaced by fourth official Thomas Bramall on 22 minutes.

On 29 minutes Rose made a great tackle that helped set up Hemmings for a good run forward and a low finish that skidded across the face of goal and narrowly wide.

A minute later Hemmings held off two defenders on the box only to shoot straight at Ross, the keeper saving with his leg.

MacDonald then sent a 30 yard snapshot at the keeper as Mansfield began to up the ante.

Another MacDonald blast took a deflection for a corner as the home fans began to turn up the volume.

Mansfield finally had the breakthough on 42 minutes. Another lengthy series of passes between Benning, Byrom and MacDonald on the edge of the Barnet box ended with MacDonald looking up and whipping a superb curling finish in off the far post from the left hand side of the penalty area.

A minute from the break Rose flashed a first time shot wide of the near post after Hamilton had pulled a cross back from the by-line.

In added time Logan had home hearts in mouths when he saved a Coulthirst free kick, then spilled the ball. He grabbed it again but a corner had been given, which Stags survived.

MacDonald should have made it 2-0 six minutes after the break from a Hemmings nod-down, but he somehow sent a low finish wide from five yards with the goal at his mercy.

Nevertheless Stags did go 2-0 up from a 55th minute corner. Byron curled it to the near post where Hemmings' on target header was turned over the line by Atkinson.

Barnet had an immediate chance to pull one back but Weston screwed a first time shot wide.

After Akinola had replaced Coulthirst, at the other end Benning was wide with a first time 20 yard blast.

Clough sent a header straight at Logan from a 64th minute Watson free kick.

But Stags missed another absolute sitter on 67 minutes. Benning curled the ball over from the left and Hemmings incredibly sent his header wide from four yards.

Rose finally settled the game on 70 minutes. Hamilton crossed low from the left and Rose picked his spot with a first time finish inside the left post. He left the field to huge applause seven minutes from time as Spencer replaced him.

Hemmings then shot just wide before new boy Miller replaced him on 85 minutes.

Akinola pulled one back with three minutes to go after reaching a short backheader from Bennett and stabbing it past Logan.

To their credit the visitors piled on some late pressure to make sure Stags did not end the day cruising.

But the day very much belonged to Mansfield in the end.

STAGS: Logan; Anderson, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; MacDonald, Byrom, Atkinson (Potter 90+2), Hamilton; Rose (Spencer 83), Hemmings (Miller 85), Subs not used: Olejnik, King, Penney, Digby.

BARNET: Ross, Brindley, Santos, Clough, Tutonda, Watson, Weston (Nicholson 74), Nicholls (J. Taylor 79), Bover, Akinde, Coulthirst (Akinola 59). Subs not used: Legg, Vilhete, Sule, Plavotic.

REFEREE: Scott Oldham of Blackpool.

ATTENDANCE: 3,795 (79 away).