Mansfield Town made it a very happy New Year with an exciting 3-1 home victory over Carlisle United that saw them leap back into the top seven play-off spots.
That also made it only one defeat in 18 games for the in-form Stags.
But it was far from a comfortable victory for Steve Evans’ men against a never-say-die Carlisle who had their chances to take something back to Cumbria.
In the end it was a brace from Kane Hemmings plus one for Rhys Bennett that sealed the points.
But United missed a great chance just before the opening goal and, at 2-1 down after netting a penalty, rattled the home woodwork twice in quick succession before Hemmings sealed it soon afterwards.
Mansfield had skipper Zander Diamond and top scorer Danny Rose ruled out through injury.
The Stags, who won 2-1 at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday, despite a virus in the camp, saw Rose and Diamond go off in the first 20 minutes at Adams Park.
Rose had a hip injury but should be fine for the weekend FA Cup trip to Cardiff City, as should Diamond, who was flattened by a ball to the face from a fierce free kick.
Lee Angol, who had scored twice in the last two games, came in up front for Rose while Mal Benning replaced Diamond in a defence that reverted back to a four after boss Steve Evans played three at the back on Saturday.
The other change came in goal where Conrad Logan, fit again after the virus, returned in place of an unlucky Bobby Olejnik, who had a fine game at Wycombe.
Hayden White was still not 100 per cent from the illness but was named on the bench, but Johnny Hunt and Jimmy Spencer were still too ill to be considered.
Stags were up against a Carlisle side managed by former Mansfield boss Keith Curle and including ex-Stags winger Reggie Lambe.
The home side began well, Hamilton forcing a corner within the first 20 seconds and Angol heading Potter’s flag kick goalwards, though it was an easy take for the keeper.
A second corner on four minutes saw MacDonald head wide. Then MacDonald bent a tame shot at goal from distance soon after.
However, the visitors should have been ahead on seven minutes.
Danny Grainger crossed long from the left and poor marking left Tom Miller all alone on the far side, seven yards from goal, only to sidefoot wide.
But Mansfield were gifted a ninth minute opener from a suicidal backpass by Grainger.
Hemmings was onto it like lightning and went wide of keeper Bonham to his right before coolly steering in from a tight angle.
Miller had a shot blocked for the visitors on 15 minutes when a long throw fell for him in the box.
A fantastic burst of pace down the left by Hamilton on 20 minutes saw him get to the left by-line and cross low, Bonham just there to smother before Hemmings could appy the finishing touch.
Benning sent a rising shot over soon afterwards.
Another spell of Carlisle pressure ended with Jones lashing wide from outside the box.
But Mansfield stormed 2-0 ahead on 30 minutes after Miller missed his clearance at the far post.
Hamilton took control and crossed to the near post where Angol’s goalbound touch was superbly clawed out from under the bar by Bonham only to see Bennett turn it over the line from point blank range.
Angol was only just wide with a header from a MacDonald cross on the restart as Mansfield looked to press home their advantage.
Then Hemmings was only just over with his close range header from Potter’s cross after a great flick from Angol.
There was a flare-up between Lambe and Mellis on 44 minutes after the Carlisle man went in strongly, but the cards stayed in the referee’s pocket and Stags went in 2-0 to the good.
Angol was booked on 51 minutes for leaving a foot in as Liddle went to clear the ball.
Logan was tested for the first time on 55 minutes as Lambe shot low from 20 yards, but the keeper was safely there.
Stags began to pile on the pressure, but a Devitt corner for Carlisle on 62 minutes saw Miller head over at the far post in a brief respite for the Cumbrians.
On 65 minutes a fast break by Mansfield saw Mellis feed Angol to set up Hamilton for a firm, low shot that Bonham was able to parry.
But United were handed a lifeline on 67 minutes as sub Bennett won a penalty as he fractionally beat Logan to a through ball and was clattered.
Up stepped Devitt to tuck the ball inside the left post.
Within seconds Carlisle won a corner from which Hill headed narrowly wide.
A great move on 72 minutes saw Benning race at goal, play a one-two with Angol and fire just over.
The game swung on two crucial incidents.
United twice hit the woodwork on 73 minutes as Hope crossed from the left, Cosgrove saw his glancing header come back off the angle and somehow Bennett sent a follow-up against the woodwork when it looked easier to score.
Within two minutes Stags were 3-1 ahead as Potter crossed low from the right and Hemmings turned it home with his heel from close range.
Immediately Jones forced Logan to save his low shot and Benning made an important clearance after a scramble as plucky United refused to give in.
O’Sullivan was booked on 85 minutes for bringing down Hamilton in full flight.
From the free kick, Hemmings forced Bonham down for a save as he tried for his hat-trick.
In added time White and Bennett were booked for a clash as United pressed to the end of a superb game of football.
STAGS: Logan; Anderson, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; Potter (White 79), MacDonald, Mellis (Atkinson 83), Hamilton; Angol (Thomas 88), Hemmings. Subs: Olejnik, Digby, Sterling-James, Butcher.
CARLISLE: Bonham, Tom Miller, Grainger (Hope HT), Liddle, Parkes, Jones, Devitt, Cosgrove, Lambe (O’Sullivan 79), Shaun Miller (Bennett HT), Hill. Subs: Nabbi, Ellis, Brown, Bacon.
REFEREE: Darren Drysdale of Lincolnshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,632 (320 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Kane Hemmings.