MORECAMBE made sure of Football League safety for another season but suffered a heavy defeat on a bitter sweet afternoon.
The Shrimps suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to a very good Mansfield side but defeats for Yeovil and Notts County ensured they cannot be caught with just three games of the season to go.
Boss Jim Bentley made four changes to the side that drew with Grimsby last week with Aaron Wildig ruled out through illness and Kevin Ellison, Luke Conlan and Piero Mingoia dropping to the bench to make way for Alex Kenyon, Ritchie Sutton, Jordan Cranston and Aaron Collins.
The Shrimps though looked second best for long periods of time against a good home side and it was left to Barry Roche, who made a string of superb saves in the first half, to keep the score down.
After just five minutes Roche was called into action with a superb save from Gethin Jones’s point-blank header.
Roche then had to save smartly from Jacob Mellis shot with his legs and then tip away a Neal Bishop drive at full stretch to his right hand side as the home side piled on the pressure.
Morecambe had a brief period on top with Andy Fleming seeing a goal-bound effort blocked by Kristian Pearce and Richie Bennett heading a Liam Mandeville corner over at the far post.
Mansfield soon found their feet again and took the lead on the half hour. Ritchie Sutton lost possession and Mal Benning was able to cross from the left for Mellis to finally beat Roche with a shot from the edge of the box.
The Stags continued to dominate the first half and were denied again by Roche in injury time when the keeper somehow got down low to his left to tip away Tyler Walker’s close range header.
The Shrimps changed things at the break with Luke Conlan and Piero Mingoia brought on and a change of formation saw the Shrimps look more threatening.
Unfortunately as they pushed forward Mansfield took advantage of the gaps that were created and scored the all important second goal when defender Kristian Pearce was perfectly placed to fire home the loose ball into the bottom right hand corner with a neat shot on the turn.
Two minutes later the home side sealed the three points with a third. Mellis played in C J Hamilton down the right and he cut inside Steven Old before finding the target from eight yards out.
To make matters worse Mansfield scored a fourth five minutes from time when Mal Benning beat Roche low to his left with a well struck shot from 25 yards out.
At the end of the game though the results came through to confirm the Shrimps’ safety to make it a Good Friday after all.
Mansfield: Logan, Preston, Pearce, Sweeney, Jones, Bishop (rep Rose 83), Mellis, Benning, Grant (rep MacDonald 71), Walker (rep Rose 77), Hamilton. Subs not used: Smith, Atkinson, Turner, Hakeem.
Morecambe: Roche, Old, Sutton (rep Mingoia 45), Lavelle, Mills, Kenyon (rep Conlan 45), Fleming, Cranston, Mandeville, Bennett, Collins (rep Oliver 72). Subs not used: Halstead, Ellison, Hedley, McKay.
Ref: T Kettle.