AFC Mansfield got off to a winning start with an excellent 2-0 away win at Bottesford Town in NCEL Division One.
Goals from Phil Buxton and Grant Allott did the damage, both in the second half.
The first half saw both sides tentatively feeling each other out.
The goalscoring opportunities came in the first 15 minutes of the game when on nine minutes a 20 yard Danny Naylor rasping drive was well held by Bottesford keeper Leigh Herrick low and down to his right.
Five minutes later and it was Herrick again to the rescue finger tipping a Jimmy Ghaichem cross off the head of Dean Rick.
The rest of the half turned into a war of attrition as both sides tried to stamp their authority on the game. Not surprisingly the teams went in level at the break.
Bottesford started the second half the better of the two sides and Jason White had to be at his best to turn Scott Wilby’s effort around the post on 50 minutes.
The home side’s dominance lasted just 10 minutes. The Bulls worked their way into the game and Herrick had to save bravely at Dean Rick’s feet. The keeper received a knock for his efforts but after treatment was able to carry on.
AFC Mansfield thought they had took the lead on 65 minutes after a good move involving Buxton, Ryan Williams and Ghaichem set up Rick for a shot on goal.
The ball was heading for the top corner but Herrick threw himself to his right and managed to tip the ball over the bar.
The Bulls finally got the breakthrough on 67 minutes. Naylor threaded a superb ball to Buxton who rode the challenge of a defender before slipping the ball under the advancing Herrick from 14 yards.
The away side then doubled their advantage three minutes later when a Mark Dudley corner was only half cleared.
The ball dropped to Grant Allott on the edge of the box and with some nimble footwork he danced around two defenders before smashing the ball into the top left hand corner, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot.
Rick had the chance to make it three on 77 minutes when he raced clear and into the box.
As he rounded Herrick the keeper clipped his legs. To Rick’s credit he stayed on his feet but the challenge had sent him wide of the goal and he could only hit the side-netting with his shot.
Declan Brewin, on as a late substitute, was terrorising the Bottesford back four with his blistering pace and earned the Bulls a free kick two minutes before the end.
A Ryan Williams 20 yard effort took a deflection off the wall and had Herrick scurrying across his box to see the ball go inches wide of the right hand post.
This was an entertaining game for the neutrals and both teams will be challenging at the top of the table come the end of the season.
BOTTESFORD TOWN: Herrick, Gibbons, Short, Martin, Johnson, Barwick, Wilby (Cross 79), Ridley, Pembleton (Bonsor 82), Helliwell (Boulton 74), Graves. Subs not used: Robinson, Newton.
AFC MANSFIELD: White, Cheeseman (Wilson 74), Allott, TImons, Naylor, Williams, Buxton, Rick (Brewin 84), Lucas, Ghaichem. Subs not used: Smith, Haslam, Hartshorn.
REFEREE:Mr Thomas Cadman of Lincs.
BULLS MAN OF THE MATCH: Phil Buxton.