MATT Taylor’s first-half strike secured Swindon Town a fourth home win in a row in League Two as they saw off play-off rivals Mansfield Town this afternoon.

Taylor finished off a fine Swindon counter attack six minutes before half-time at the Energy Check County Ground and capped an excellent performance from David Flitcroft’s side.

The result sees Swindon leapfrog the Stags in the table and they are now up to fifth place, just two points outside the automatic promotion places.

Town were the first to threaten and had a sight of the Mansfield goal in the opening minute. Luke Norris fed Taylor on the left and the striker was then the man to meet the low ball back into the box but his effort under pressure sailed well over the top.

It did not take the Stags long to muster up their first effort, although home keeper Reice Charles-Cook was in little danger as he easily gathered Danny Rose’s scuffed strike on the turn after an Alex MacDonald free-kick was only half-cleared.

The home fans and players were appealing for a penalty after nine minutes when Marc Richards went down in the box under pressure from Rhys Bennett but referee Kevin Friend waved away the claims.

Ollie Banks then saw a strike from distance fly well wide before Swindon were given a let off after 14 minutes as the Stags went closest to breaking the deadlock.

Kane Hemmings raced onto a long clearance from the back and although he was able to lift the ball over the advancing Charles-Cook, he could not keep his effort the right side of the crossbar.

Chances continued to come at either end and Timi Elsnik flashed an effort into the side netting after exchanging passes with Taylor before Will Atkinson looped a header narrowly wide of the Swindon goal after flicking his head at a CJ Hamilton cross.

A superb run up the left by Keshi Anderson afforded him the best chance of the opening half-hour as he let fly from the edge of the box, with Mansfield stopper Conrad Logan pulling off a fine save to tip it over the bar.

Richards then pounced on a poor defensive header to lash a fine first-time effort from 30 yards just wide before Charles-Cook stayed big at the other end to thwart Hemmings after the home defence were caught out by a quick throw.

That led to spell of pressure from Mansfield but it only resulted in Swindon breaking the deadlock with a superb goal on the counter attack six minutes before the interval.

A Stags attack broke down midway inside Swindon territory and Anderson drove forward 50 yards before offloading to Elsnik and his perfectly-weighted pass picked out the run of Taylor, who beat Logan with a crisp low strike from the edge of the box.

The home side went close to a second before the break with another spectacular effort, with Banks lashing into the side netting from 25 yards after an attack was only half cleared, but Swindon were content to head back into the changing rooms a goal to the good.

Mansfield’s Logan was the first of the goalkeepers called into action after the restart, first making a wonderful point-blank save from Richards – although the offside flag was up anyway – before then safely gathering a 20-yard strike from Elsnik.

After a frantic first half, quality chances began to dry up – that was until the 72nd minute when only a goalline clearance denied the hosts a second goal.

Kyle Knoyle’s looped ball from the right was met by the head of Anderson but with Logan beaten, Bennett positioned himself perfectly to hook away the danger.

Logan was then called into action again shortly afterwards as Richards rose highest to meet another Knoyle cross but the header was straight at the Stags stopper.

Having offered little attacking threat in the second half, Stags top scorer Danny Rose had a sniff of an equaliser with five minutes to play when he pounced as the ball pinged around the Swindon box but he could not keep his effort down.

That was as close the visitors came to share of the points as although they pumped balls into the box in the dying stages, the Swindon defence stood firm to secure a deserved victory.

SWINDON TOWN: Charles-Cook; Purkiss, Preston, Menayese; Knoyle, Banks, Elsnik, Anderson (Mullin 90+2), Taylor; Norris, Richards (capt). Subs not used: Moore, Romanski, Robertson, Iandolo, Dunne, Woolery.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Logan; Anderson, Pearce (capt), Bennett, Benning; MacDonald, Atkinson, Byrom (Miller 60), Hamilton (Penney 68); Rose, Hemmings (Potter 82). Subs not used: Olejnik, Digby, Spencer, King.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 6,031