Port Vale fell to their first defeat in five games as Mansfield ran out comfortable victors at Vale Park on Tuesday evening.
Despite a positive first-half display from Neil Aspin’s men, a brace from Zander Diamond, plus goals from Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings, ensured it was the Stags who left Burslem with all three points.
It was a David Worrall free-kick from a wide position that created Vale’s first opening of the evening on two minutes, but after the ball found its way to Tom Pope, the striker’s low shot was blocked and Mansfield managed to clear.
Seven minutes later, the Valiants almost found the opener as Anton Forrester latched onto a through ball before firing a powerful effort just beyond the far post. Up the other end on 19 minutes, the visitors squandered a chance of their own as Rose headed just off target from a Joel Byrom corner.
Vale continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides going forward and a swift counter-attack led to a golden opportunity with 27 minutes played. Danny Pugh’s initial challenge saw the ball fall to Pope, he then slid a pass through to Forrester, but Rhys Bennett came to the Stags’ rescue with a last-ditch sliding tackle.
Pugh went inches away from finding the net himself with a deflected free-kick on 34 minutes that forced Conrad Logan to tip the ball around the post. Worrall’s resulting corner was then met by the head of Gavin Gunning, but his downwards effort was hooked off the line.
Against the run of play on 43 minutes, Mansfield broke the deadlock following a quickly taken free-kick. Hayden White’s cross was flicked on by Paul Anderson and Diamond got in front of his marker to divert the ball beyond the reach of Ryan Boot.
Following the restart Vale came out positively as they searched for a route back into the game, but with 51 minutes on the clock, Pope could only direct a Tyler Denton cross into the hands of Logan.
One minute later, the Stags doubled their advantage as Diamond turned home an Alex MacDonald corner. Just two minutes after scoring their second of the evening, Mansfield then added a third as Danny Rose chested down a lofted ball from White before arrowing a half-volley into the top corner from range.
Vale went agonisingly close to pulling a goal back in the 61st minute as Worrall floated a corner into the Mansfield area. Pope then rose the highest to send a powerful header on target, but Logan somehow managed to get across and tip the ball over the bar.
Up the other end, the Stags broke away with speed three minutes later to find the net again. It was MacDonald who provided the assist again with a perfectly weighted pass that found Hemmings, the striker making no mistakes with subsequent finish.
Marcus Harness called Logan into a low save from 20 yards on 71 minutes as Vale continued to mount attacks, with Worrall then sending a distant effort just off target two minutes later. With ten minutes left to play, James Gibbons tried his luck from 25 yards and it flew narrowly over the bar as Logan back-pedalled.
Port Vale: Boot, Gibbons, Anderson, Smith, Gunning, Denton (Montano 56), Pugh © (Tonge 72), Harness, Worrall, Forrester (Pyke 69), Pope.
Unused Substitutes: Hornby, Yates, Reeves, Turner.
Mansfield Town: Logan, Hunt, Bennett, Diamond ©, White, Hamilton, Byrom (Atkinson 70), MacDonald, Anderson, Hemmings (Butcher 86), Rose (Spencer 77).
Unused Substitutes: Olejnik, Pearce, Mellis, Sterling-James.
Attendance: 3,878 (537 away).