Lincoln United convincingly returned to winning ways, as they defeated AFC Mansfield 6-0 at the Sun-hat Villas and Resorts Stadium.
The Whites came into the game off the back of two defeats following their incredible 21 match winning run that stretched back to September. Those defeats had dropped them to second and four points off title rivals Sherwood Colliery.
Manager Chris Funnell made a number of changes including dropping second top-scorer Jack McMenemy to the bench, the striker is without a league goal in 2024.
AFC Mansfield came to Lincoln in high spirits after back-to-back wins since their defeat at home to The Whites on January 10.
An uncharacteristically mild February day set the scene, but The Whites were red hot from the off.
Immediately putting The Bulls’ defence under pressure and dictating the game at their own tempo. Brad Wells had the biggest chance of the opening exchanges as his shot on the spin rolled narrowly wide.
It took just eight minutes for deadlock to be broken. Jake Park, who has been trusted up-front since the departure of Matt Cotton, struck a half-volley from 20-yards into the bottom left corner of the Mansfield net to give his side reward for their early dominance.
Lincoln quickly doubled their lead after just 18 minutes, but it came from an unlikely assister. Goalkeeper Jack Steggles sent a long kick down the pitch and Ify Ofoegbu latched onto a defensive error and calmly finished into the corner.
As the half-hour mark rolled round the difference in quality between the sides became clear. A well worked set-piece routine allowed a Priestley free-kick to be nodded down by Wells to Evan Payne who couldn’t miss from two yards out.
A three-goal margin gave the Whites some real breathing space and they were now already managing the game very well.
Ofoegbu, who was making just his fifth start in a Lincoln United shirt, continued to be a thorn in The Bull’s side threatened to put the game out of sight as he struck the post from a tight near post angle.
Steggles had to be alert late on the half to tip a long-range effort round the post but a commanding display from The Whites that had them three to the good at the break.
AFC Mansfield came flying out the blocks in the second period, some nice one touch passing gave Devon Smith a chance from just a few yards out, but he was just kept from tapping it in by Lincoln captain Foster.
But ten minutes into the half it was normal service resumed, a delightful Priestley pass put Ofoegbu though once again and this time he doubled his tally with a powerful finish into the top corner to make it 4-0.
Another piece of Priestley set-piece brilliance set up the fifth on the hour mark, an inswinging free-kick caused all sorts of problems for the Bulls’ defence and Wells was there again to nod down for McGovern to bundle into the net for his 10th of the season.
AFC Mansfield wanted to put up a fight to the end with Keelan grist looking a bright spark with some clever touches but creating nothing of note.
Ify Ofoegbu would have thought he’d sealed his hat-trick on 83 minutes, his drilled effort cannoning back off the post before substitute Liversidge struck a fierce volley that stung the palms of Turton.
On 86 minutes there was a huge cheer around Ashby Avenue as young debutant Harvey Graves lobbed the ball into the net when through on goal. A sixth goal that capped off a brilliant day for the Whites.
Kallum Smith did have a chance late on, but Mansfield held on to keep it at 6-0 and put an end to a very one-sided affair.
Lincoln United 6–0 AFC Mansfield:
It was a dominant performance from start to finish by Lincoln United, who responded well to their first back-to-back defeats of the season.
Chris Funnell’s side remain 2nd in the United Counties Football League Premier Division North, but just one point behind Sherwood Colliery with a game in hand after they fell to defeat away at Kimberly.
However, league football will have to wait as the Whites shift their focus to a mammoth Round of 16 Isuzu FA Vase tie away at Hallam next weekend, as they hope to keep their Wembley dreams alive.