David Flitcroft hailed Mansfield’s hard work after their promotion bandwagon rolled on with a 4-0 home hammering of Morecambe to push them up into second with only three games to go.
Boss Flitcroft missed out on the play-offs last season but said a year’s hard work was now starting to pay dividends.
“We are not where we are by luck,” he said. “It’s down to the work that everyone here has put in.
“That gives you days like this. You don’t just fluke a win like that. We looked fit and we looked brave.
“In the first half I thought we were brilliant. We attacked them from every angle possible.
“We were unlucky not to score more in the first half.
“It was an emphatic win and one that the players and supporters thoroughly deserved. It could have been five, six, seven.”
He added: “We took them apart from some clean, precise work.
“The back three were so strong today. They were the bedrock of the win.
“From a goal difference point of view it was important.”
Only a string of fine saves by Barry Roche kept the Stags at bay until Jacob Mellis fired home low from a pulled-back pass by Mal Benning on the half-hour.
Two of the saves he made, both to deny Gethin Jones’ close-range headers at the start and end of the half, were breathtaking.
Mansfield keeper Conrad Logan did have to smother a Steven Old header from a 66th-minute corner.
But home fans’ nerves were finally settled by two goals in three minutes.
Skipper Krystian Pearce was able to turn and steer home a low finish in the 70th minute when the visitors failed to clear Jorge Grant’s free-kick.
Mellis then sent CJ Hamilton into the box to fire under Roche three minutes later and Benning completed the rout in the 85th minute.
“I thought it was a poor performance,” said Morecambe boss Jim Bentley.
“Credit where credit’s due, Mansfield are a good side and you can see why they are where they are.
“But coming away from home we have to put up a better performance than that.
“Today they looked like they had more know-how, more running, more aggression and more desire. That goes hand in hand with where they are in the position they are in.
“But when you play one of the top sides away it’s an opportunity for you to test yourself and keep our little run going.
“In the last 11 games we have taken more points than Mansfield so we are in decent form. But we didn’t show enough today. We rolled over and let them tickle our bellies.”