Mansfield Town cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Barnet which leaves the Bees firmly rooted to the bottom of the League Two table.

The Stags, pushing hard for automatic promotion, are now unbeaten in nine matches - the Bees, in contrast, are winless in eight.

With the hosts having established a three-goal advantage, substitute Simeon Akinola notched a late consolation goal with just three minutes remaining.

The Bees then put the Mansfield goal under intense pressure in the closing moments but they surged forward more in hope than expectation.

The Barnet starting line-up did not include any of their four transfer windows signings and with converted centre-back Dan Sweeney suspended, Charlie Clough partnered Ricardo Santos at the heart of the defence.

The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges and their failure to take the lead would eventually prove costly.

Alex Nicholls had the first effort after just three minutes when he shot from 25 yards but his strike took a deflection and was easily collected by Mansfield keeper Conrad Logan.

John Akinde then had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Scott Oldham after the striker hit the floor following a challenge by ex-Bee Krystian Pearce.

With 12 minutes on the clock full-back Richard Brindley outwitted the Stags’ offside trap but his low drilled effort was blocked by Rhys Bennett.

Barnet’s Shaq Coulthirst was then set to shoot but Mansfield forward Alex MacDonald had tracked back and intercepted the ball before it could reach the striker.

As the first-half progressed the home side increasingly began to show why they are pushing for a top-three spot, with winger CJ Hamilton causing havoc down the left and giving Brindley an uncomfortable afternoon.

The home side were now creating numerous opportunities and openings but were repeatedly wasteful with their finishing.

The Bees were hoping to make it to half-time without conceding but the home side eventually made a deserved breakthrough in the 42nd minute.

Following a fine flowing move that Barnet were unable to disrupt, MacDonald brushed aside Ruben Bover’s challenge with his shot from the edge of the area looping over stranded keeper Craig Ross.

Mansfield’s opener was a crushing blow to Barnet’s ambitions. The visitors never recovered from this setback, with the Stags always looking eager and able to extend their lead therafter.

Ten minutes into the second half poor marking from a corner allowed Kane Hemmings to flick the ball on for Will Atkinson to stoop low to steer his header past Ross to double the home side’s advantage.

Barnet briefly flickered into life on the hour mark when Clough should have done better from a Bover set-piece but his tame header was easily held by Logan.

The game, as a contest, was concluded in the 70th minute when Hamilton attacked once more down the left, his pass into the middle picked out Danny Rose, who dismissed the flimsy challenge of David Tutonda before firmly placing the ball past Ross.

The home side were now able to toy with Barnet and did not need to exert themselves unduly to keep their opponents at bay.

They were jolted out of their complacency momentarily when Akinola, who had joined the fray in the 57th minute and had looked lively and enterprising, got his reward half-an-hour later.

The Barnet substitute latched onto a weak headed back-pass by Bennet to pass the ball into an empty net. But despite a rousing finish, Mansfield’s superiority was never in doubt.

Barnet: Ross, Brindley, Santos, Clough, Tutonda, Weston (Nicholson 75) Watson, Nicholls (J.Taylor 79), Bover, Coulthirst (Akinola 59), Akinde. Subs not used: Vilhete, Sule, Legg, Nicholson, Plavotic.