Five star Mansfield Town appropriately marked Pancake Day with a 5-0 ‘battering’ of bewildered Newport County tonight with Alfie Potter grabbing a hat-trick.
The Stags turned in their best display of the season at a freezing cold One Call Stadium and could and should have won by a far bigger margin.
They were totally dominant and an absolute delight to watch, though sadly the game attracted the lowest gate of a thrilling season.
It was the perfect way to bounce back from a first defeat in 10 League games at Swindon last weekend.
The game was over as a contest by the break as Stags forged a 4-0 lead through an Alfie Potter brace, Alex MacDonald and Danny Rose.
Potter completed his hat-trick on 61 minutes.
In truth it could have been many more as Steve Evans’ side showed exactly what they are capable of as we enter the ‘business end’ of the season.
Mansfield made two changes as Swansea City loanee Adam King made his debut in central midfield in place of Joel Byrom while winger Alfie Potter took over from Will Atkinson with Alex MacDonald moving across into a central role.
Jacob Mellis and Zander Diamond were back among the substitutes.
Stags were looking to get back to form after a first defeat in 10 League Two games at Swindon last weekend.
Newport, now six points outside the play-offs, have failed to win in their last three League games and were without a match last weekend due to a postponement.
Potter was too high with an early cross and an early shot as Mansfield began the game in positive fashion.
On five minutes Day had to save with his legs as Bennett and Pearce helped the ball on with headers to a waiting Hemmings, who drilled a six yard finish on target.
However, a minute later Mansfield were ahead.
Pearce burst into the left of the box and shaped to shoot. Instead he took the ball to the left by-line and then pulled a superb pass back across the six yard area to an unmarked Rose who could hardly miss tucking away his 16th goal of the season.
Stags were clearly right in the mood and on nine minutes were 2-0 ahead.
This time Hamilton showed his pace to burst between two opponents and then race into the box before pulling a pass back across into the centre where Potter beat Day with a superb first time finish.
It was almost 3-0 on 20 minutes as Hemmings sent an inviting ball for Hamilton to race onto and his low cross was turned narrowly wide by Rose when he looked a certain scorer.
Newport thought they had pulled one back from a 22nd minute free kick. Dolan fired it forward from 35 yards and the ball deflected into the path of Labadie, who tucked it away only to see a raised offside flag.
Stags continued to pile on the pressure and on 28 minutes Potter grabbed his second.
Benning won a tackle just outside the box on the left and burst into it before his low cross set up Rose. Again he looked certain to score but failed to make a good contact with his first attempt and then saw his lifted follow-up come back off the bar before Potter showed him how to do it with a vicious rising blast high into the net.
The fourth goal was not long coming. Newport struggled to clear Stags’ fourth corner of the evening, getting the ball as far as MacDonald just outside the box, and he drilled an unstoppable finish through everyone into the net on 34 minutes.
Rose was inches wide with a volley from a Potter cross on 36 minutes as Newport prayed for the interval.
The desperate visitors ended the half with a succession of corners and Logan had to palm away a low, angled cross-cum-shot from Bennett in the four added minutes.
Newport made a double change at the break with O’Brien and Jackson on for Doland and Nouble.
The lively Hemmings pulled a shot wide and MacDonald had a shot blocked as Stags resumed their assault.
On 51 minutes Day made a double save to keep out Rose and King before King blazed the loose ball over.
On 55 minutes Bennett turned the ball against the foot of the post from MacDonald’s ball in, then seconds later a completely unmarked Hemmings somehow lifted over from four yards from Rose’s cross.
The night got no better for the Exiles as Bennett limped off to be replaced by Tozer on 58 minutes.
Just to rub it in Potter completed his hat-trick on 61 minutes. CJ Hamilton teased the defenders on the left before sending a low cross through everyone to Potter, who swept a low finish back across Day.
MacDonald narrowly curled a 20 yard free kick into the sidenetting as the torture continued for Newport.
Potter was rightly given an ovation as he was replaced by Penney on 76 minutes, Miller on for Hemmings three minutes later.
Rose quickly hit the by-line and set up Miller for a close range finish that again Day saved with his legs.
With Day out his goal on 83 minutes, King launched an audacious effort goalwards from 50 yards which saw Day recover to tip it over at the last minute.
Jackson headed just over from a Willmott cross in a rare Newport raid seconds later, the final whistle a merciful release for the Welshmen.
STAGS: Logan; Anderson, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; Potter (Penney 76), King, MacDonald, Hamilton; Rose (Spencer 89), Hemmings (Miller 79). Subs not used: Olejnik, Diamond, Mellis, Atkinson.
NEWPORT: Day, Pipe, White, Demetriou, Butler, Bennett (Tozer 58), Dolan (Jackson HT), Labadie, Willmott, Amond, Nouble (O’Brien HT). Subs not used: Bittner, McCoulsky, Reid, Sheehan.
REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 2,866 (57 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alfie Potter.