ANDY Preece reckoned his team's potential downfall this season might come in scoring goals.

Right now, Preece's problem is how to stop the ball flying into the net at the other end of the pitch.

And the Bury player boss agrees that until the right balance is found, there could be a few more results like this one in the months ahead.

"I've always said I don't think we are as strong as we were last season.

"And until we get that blend then we are going to be up and down.

"Sometimes with the younger players, and the older ones as well, they don't always take on board what you're telling them."

However, right now it's the more experienced players who are struggling to lead by example.

Colin Woodthorpe, a model of consistency last season, has suffered more than most and particularly last night against Liam Lawrence.

Indeed, it was no surprise when Tom Kennedy followed in dad Keith's illustrious footsteps by pulling on a Bury senior shirt for the first time early in the second half.

Captain Lee Duxbury also hasn't been at his best and he made way at the interval as Preece dispensed with a formation that saw him as the lone striker.

Gareth Seddon came on to share the load for the second period and it will be interesting to see if he and Kennedy retain their places at Boston on Saturday.

"Gareth is knocking on the door," Preece intimated. "He looked lively when he came on and took his goal really well.

"Had we gone 4-4-2 from the start he would have played."

Seddon did make a difference and match the Mansfield players for their energy and directness.

Connell was also a threat bursting forward and in addition to his two goals wasted perhaps an easier chance to finish with a first ever hat-trick.

It was Connell's header from a Ben Thornley cross that put Bury in front against the run of play. Glynn Garner had already produced an outstanding save to deny Craig Disley before the 'Colonel' struck.

Bury protected their lead for 10 minutes before they couldn't repel the irresistible home attacks any longer.

Woodthorpe - for giving the ball away - and Lee Unsworth - for not jumping with his marker - were at fault for the equaliser scored by Junior Mendes with a header.

Soon, the lively Wayne Corden swivelled inside the area to make it 2-1 and just before the break he rounded off some slick football for 3-1.

In between, Connell should have equalised but put his shot too close to keeper Kevin Pilkington.

Bury almost went 4-1 down at the start of the second half but after Liam Lawrence skipped round Woodthorpe, Garner came to the rescue with his legs.

Almost immediately Woodthorpe was withdrawn in favour of teenager Kennedy.

By now Seddon was posing a threat to the Stags defence. One shot was deflected for a corner while Greg Strong headed narrowly wide from a Danny Swailes cross.

But after 57 minutes Bury did score. Seddon picked up a loose ball midway in the Mansfield half, moved forward menacingly and unleashed a terrific 20 yard shot that fizzed into the bottom corner.

Mansfield response was to bring on a couple of substitutes and in the 62nd minute Liam Lawrence restored the two goal cushion with a fine solo goal.

Garner prevented it becoming 5-2 before another Bury rally sparked by Paul O'Shaughnessy's fourth booking of the season.

Connell almost picked off a poor back pass but Pilkington intervened, Preece put another chance over the crossbar before Connell flashed in another long distance effort to make it 4-3.

Again Mansfield decided the best form of defence was attack and Lawrence completed the scoring after Garner had kept out one shot and the crossbar came to Bury's rescue with the follow-up.

"That fifth goal summed up our night," said Preece. "We didn't react when Glyn made the save, we didn't react when the ball came off the crossbar and we allowed their player to go past two players and shoot home.

Mansfield chief Keith Curle offered a crumb of comfort to beleaguered Bury. "You can see why they were in the play-offs last season," he suggested.

"They were a decent team and try to play football the right way.

"It must have been a great game to watch."

BURY: Garner 7, Unsworth 5, Swailes 7, Strong 5, Woodthorpe 4 (Kennedy 6, 53mins), Thornley 7, Connell 8, Duxbury 5 (Seddon 7, 46mins) O'Shaughnessy 7, Singh 6, Preece 6 (Porter 5, 73 mins); Subs not used: O'Neil, Gunby.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 4,145