REPORT: Mansfield Town 3-0 Tranmere Rovers
Magnificent Mansfield Town remain in the top three automatic promotion places after seeing off 10-men Tranmere Rovers in style with a 3-0 win at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
A virtuoso performance from Jorge Grant saw him net twice and sparkle with top scorer Tyler Walker taking his tally to 19 with the other goal.
Rovers were already behind to a brilliant Grant free-kick when their task was made harder thanks to two reckless Ollie Banks tackles in four minutes.
He was lucky to stay on the field for his first challenge on 32 minutes and left the referee no option for his second as he saw red.
Stags were comfortable after that with keeper Scott Davies largely unemployed and no serious saves to make all game apart from winning a couple of one-on-ones.
Mansfield made just one change with defender Matt Preston returning to the side in place of broken leg victim Hayden White.
Before kick-off, Stags held a minute’s silence prior to kick-off for Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, whose plane went missing this week.
There was also applause in the 79th minute in memory of former Stags winger Jimmy McGowan. Glasgow-born McGowan died in Kings Mill Hospital on 6th January, aged 79.
Both sides showed intent going forward in the early stages without testing the keeper.
Tranmere survived an early home corner and some added pressure after when they failed to clear far enough.
But it took 14 minutes for a real chance to be fashioned when Preston met a Grant free kick with a flicked header just past the post.
A minute later McCullough was booked for halting Grant's run off the ball.
Davies did well to smother a low Hamilton cross while Stags survived a scramble from a Norwood cross that had appeared to go out before he crossed it.
However, McNulty was added to the book on 21 minutes for shoulder-charging walker to the ground on the edge of the box.
And Stags made him pay as Grant stepped up to curl a delicious free kick high into the top left corner for the opening goal on 22 minutes.
Banks cleaned out Grant with a sliding challenge on 32 minutes that saw him lucky to escape with only a yellow card. The free kick was worked to Mellis but his shot from distance carried little threat to Davies' goal.
Just four minutes later Banks was gone for a second yellow card as he took Mellis' standing leg with a ridiculous challenge, given he had just got away with a red.
Smith did well to smother a loose ball as it broken invitingly for Caprice on 40 minutes.
A minute from the break Stags broke well down the left and Grant was only inches wide with the most delicate of touches onto a low ball in from Walker.
Another Stags break was halted by Monthe holding Ajose in the centre circle which earned him an inevitable booking.
McCullough had a low shot deflect wide for Rovers in the four added minutes and Norwood's header ws too high from the corner.
Even deeper into stoppage time Hamilton powered a downward header at Davies from Ajose's left wing cross.
Tranmere's 10 men stood firm as Stags went looking for the killer second goal after the break though only a great tackle by Ridehalgh prevented Hamilton racing away onto Grant's clever pass on 63 minutes.
But it was 2-0 on 65 minutes. Ajose's 25 yard blast was parried by Davies, but Walker was onto the loose ball quickly to guide home his 19th goal of the season.
Three minutes later Grant settled matters with his second goal of the afternoon. Walker made space for a vicious shot that Davies again blocked only to see Grant slot home the rebound.
Atkinson and Khan took over from Bishop and Walker as Stags began to really enjoy their afternoon.
Sweeney turned the ball over the line from close range on 76 minutes but an offside flag was up.
Davies got his body well behind an awkward bouncing shot from Khan and then beat away a near post Hamilton shot as Mansfield kept up the pressure in their search for more goals.
MANSFIELD: J. Smith; Sweeney, Pearce, Preston, Hamilton, Bishop (Atkinson 69), Mellis, Benning; Grant; Walker (Khan 75), Ajose. Subs: Logan, Butcher, Law, A. Smith, Rose.
TRANMERE: Davies, Buxton, Ridehalgh, McNulty (Pringle 65), Monthe, Norwood, Jennings, McCullough, Caprice, Perkins, Banks. Subs: Pilling, Harris, Mullin, Ellis, Smith, Gilmour.REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire.ATTENDANCE: 4,885 (451 away).CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jorge Grant.