Oldham boss Dino Maamria hailed his side’s fighting spirit as they secured their first win of 2020 with an impressive victory over fellow League Two strugglers Mansfield Town.

First half goals from Jonny Smith and Tom Hamer gave the Latics a two-goal cushion before Gevaro Nepomuceno secured the three points with a brilliant effort just before the hour mark.

The win ends a sequence of four consecutive draws for Dino Maamria’s side and puts further distance between them and the League Two drop zone as they secured their first three points since the Boxing Day victory over Morecambe.

“We needed that and credit goes to the players,” Maamria said. “They applied themselves brilliantly tonight.

“We had to go back and do what we do best - footballers enjoy having the ball and that's what we went back to tonight. We were really brave and I thought the first half was outstanding.

“The second half was a bit more difficult but we managed to get the third goal and we really could have scored more but the most important thing was the win and it puts us five games unbeaten and makes the picture look much better.

“I think the group of players showed what we're all about and that has given me a lot of hope going forward because when things are not going well the team shows character.

“They are not going to fade away but are going to fight for the cause and we showed that tonight.”

Oldham began the game well with Nepomunceno and David Wheater both having early sights of goal as the impressive Christopher Missilou gained a foothold in midfield.

On 23 minutes Nepomunceno’s deep cross from the right caused havoc in the Mansfield box with the ball making its way to Smith at the far post who twisted, turned and found space before placing an accurate low shot past Bobby Olejnik.

It was no more than the hosts deserved and they surged forward with new signing Danny Rowe going close with a long-range shot and Wheater seeing a header go over the bar.

Mansfield offered little up front and two minutes before the break Oldham doubled their lead as a Smith corner from the left found the on-rushing Hamer unmarked and with enough time to flick the ball in with his right foot off the inside of the post.

The visitors looked to improve in the second half but it was Oldham who had the first sight of goal when Nepomuceno’s shot was well saved by the tumbling Olejnik.

The narrow escape prompted Stags boss John Dempster to make a double substitution with Will Tomlinson and Andy Cook introduced but the change failed to spark a revival as just seven minutes later Oldham made the game safe when Nepomuceno unleashed a wonderful curling effort from 20 yards out into the far corner.

The Latics’ first win in eight games delighted Maamria but a late consolation goal for the visitors from substitute Otis Khan did leave a slight bad taste in the mouth.

He added: “We have been very close to winning in the last four games and have been drawing games which I don't mind because you want to stay unbeaten and keep picking up points but tonight was almost the complete performance and I'm just disappointed we conceded a goal in the last 30 seconds.

“I'm a perfectionist and I like the perfect performance so that put a bit of a dampener on it but the boys were fantastic as a squad and the togetherness in the dressing room is the best it has been.”

Oldham Athletic (4-4-2):  De La Paz 6; Hamer 7, Wheater 7, Piergianni 7, Borthwick-Jackson 7; Smith 7, Sylla 7, Missilou 8 (N’Guessan 85, N/A), Nepomunceno 9 (Branger-Engore 88, N/A); Rowe 7, Dearnley 6 (Maouch 64, 6).

Subs not used: Allen, Mills, Wilson, Segbe Azankpo

Mansfield Town (4-4-2): Olejnik; Riley, Pearce, Sweeny, Benning; MacDonald, Watts, Charsley (Tomlinson 51), Hamilton; Rose (Khan 71), Maynard (Cook 51).

Subs not used: Stone, Bishop, Knowles, Preston.

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Attendance: 2,961