Nigel Clough hailed Mansfield’s attitude after a dominant 2-0 victory at managerless Sutton.
The Stags maintained the pace at the top of League Two with a first ever win at Gander Green Lane after goals from veteran duo Stephen Quinn and Lucas Akins.
It compounded a terrible week for the Football League’s bottom club Sutton, who sacked manager Matt Gray after last weekend’s 8-0 mauling at leaders Stockport – the worst defeat in their history.
And Stags boss Clough said: “The attitude from the first minute to the last was absolutely spot on.
“They made it tricky for us in many ways. They lost their manager in the week after the 8-0 and they were formidable opponents.
“We scored two good goals, we should have had another one I thought. We were very relieved when that second one went in.
“It was difficult. The pitch wasn’t as good as it has been in previous seasons and there’s a wind blowing right down the middle of the pitch.
“The conditions were tricky. It wasn’t going to be a great game of football and we handled it well.
“It was a very tight angle for Stephen’s goal. I don’t think people appreciate how tight it was. It was a brilliant finish, an excellent finish and it’s great to have him back.
“It was another great finish from Lucas. Sometimes on your wrong foot you just have to put your head down and hit it as hard as you can and it’s gone in off the bar.”
Injury-stricken Sutton had their chances, with Harry Smith denied by a fine Christy Pym save on the stroke of half-time.
And interim boss Jason Goodliffe, Gray’s former assistant, said: “I thought we were very slow to start the game. I thought we were very nervous.
“It took us a while to get going. We went 1-0 down, the response was good after going behind and we got stronger as the first half went on.
“We created a very good chance with Harry Smith and it’s a very good save from the goalkeeper.
“The atmosphere was pretty flat around the ground and it needed something to spark it into life and that would have certainly done that. It’s the sort of thing that’s not quite going for us at the minute.
“We made a couple of changes at half-time and looked really positive for 10 or 15 minutes in that second half with a couple of good chances in that spell.
“Unfortunately that second goal going in took the wind out of our sails and we never really recovered from that.
“The effort was certainly there and I can’t fault the players, but it wasn’t to be for us.”