Mansfield Town 2 Fleetwood Town 5
Magno Vieira’s first Fleetwood hat-trick helped Town pull off one of the most dramatic victories in their history and jump to fourth in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Town’s four defeats to date in the top flight of non-league football have all been followed by victories and they bounced back from Saturday’s setback at Forest Green by completing a double over the Stags.
Micky Mellon’s men came back from behind at Field Mill to make it eight goals in two games – five of them by Brazilian Vieira – against a side playing in the Football League three seasons ago.
Rob Duffy’s sending off just before half-time was crucial, but how Town exploited it with a magnificent team performance to begin the second half of their league campaign in style.
Jekyll and Hyde Mansfield went into the game full of confidence following Saturday’s 3-1 win at Eastbourne, whereas injury deprived Mellon of Junior Brown, Paul Linwood, Jamie Milligan and Jamie Mullan.
Alan Wright replaced Brown at left-back, while Sean Clancy made his first start since November in place of Ian Craney in midfield.
As Mellon looked for more creativity and better service for record signing George Donnelly, making his second start, Gareth Seddon switched flanks to the right.
Saturday scorer Keigan Parker, the ex-Blackpool striker, started for Mansfield as top scorer Paul Connor was dropped to the bench.
Clancy had the first opportunity in only the second minute and Vieira’s shot cleared keeper Kevin Pilkington’s bar six minutes later.
Mansfield too looked dangerous coming forward but Town remained steadfast and threatening, Seddon racing into the area to tee up the lively Clancy, who fired wide on 24 minutes.
But it was the home side who took the lead when Ryan Williams pressurised the defence and delivered a looping cross which skipper Adam Murray headed in for his third of the season on 37 minutes.
The game exploded into life just before half-time. With seconds on the clock, Town forced a corner on the left and Anthony Barry found Vieira, who beat four defenders to connect with a perfect header.
There was still time before the interval for Donnelly to be denied his first Town goal, when his close-range shot was tipped on to the bar by Pilkington, and for Duffy to receive his marching orders for elbowing Wright.
Fleetwood started the second half with a purple patch of four goals in 14 minutes that turned the game on its head.
It started when Seddon’s well-executed near-post volley put Town in front three minutes in.
Jamie McGuire was booked on 56 minutes for a challenge on Williams but within a minute Vieira pounced fo a left-foot finish.
His third of the night and 16th of the season followed in the 59th minute, when the Brazilian linked well with Seddon to crash home – a fine all-round hat-trick comprising a header and left and right-foot shots.
Town were relentlessly piling forward, with Shaun Beeley constantly dangerous as he attacked from right-back.
Mansfield were stunned and their vocal supporters left them in no doubt as to their feelings.
Town were not finished, however, and McGuire swept home Beeley’s cross in the 62nd minute as Town hit five for the first time this season. It was the combative midfielder’s second strike of the campaign.
Mansfield rallied and scored a consolation second in the 74th minute, when Steve Foster rose to head in direct from a corner.
Town were denied a sixth when McGuire supplied Seddon. The striker finished well only to be called back because of an offside flag.
Vieira left the field acknowledging the Cod Army, giving Danny Rowe a well-earned debut following his two goals for the Reserves in the previous night’s hammering of Formby.
Fleetwood ended the game in total control, indulging in lengthy passing sequences, and the final whistle spared Mansfield further embarrassment.
Delighted manager Mellon said: “I want to make sure the lads receive the proper pat on the back for the performance and the victory. People can be quick to jump all over them when things don’t work out. We approach games properly and learn from defeats.
“Let’s get things into perspective. When Fleetwood Town come to somewhere like Mansfield Town and win, the team deserve an unbelievable about of credit. To come here and win by such a margin against a former League team is unbelievable, make no mistake.
After a ‘Stag night’ that they will never forget, Town have a blank weekend ahead of Tuesday’s visit of table-topping AFC Wimbledon.
Mansfield: Pilkington, Silk, Sandwith, Foster, Naylor, Nix (Istead 85), Williams (Medley 58), Cain, Murray, Duffy, Parker (Connor 58); subs not used: Collett, Stonehouse
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, Wright (Connors 71), McNulty Gregan, Barry, Clancy, McGuire, Vieira (Rowe 81), Seddon, Donnelly; subs not used: Hurst, Pond, Thorpe
Referee: M Amphlett; Attendance: 1,725