A first-half blast from Mansfield Town saw Town fall to a 4-1 defeat this evening at The Envirovent Stadium.
An early strike from Lewis Brunt ended Town’s bright start to the game but after finding their footing a quickfire brace from Lucas Akins before the break saw the visitors put themselves in the box seat at the break.
George Maris made it four midway through the second-half before Levi Sutton struck a consolation ten minutes from time but it was to no avail at Town fell to a fourth successive home defeat.
Despite victory on Saturday against Colchester United Simon Weaver opted to make three changes. Back into the starting line-up came Sam Folarin, so impressive in recent weeks, Jack Muldoon and the fit-again Rod McDonald. Josh March, Warren Burrell and James Daly all dropped to the bench.
For the visitors, who had their game at the weekend postponed due to the weather, there was just the one change to the side that defeated Notts County 4-1 in their last outing. Into the side came Lewis Brunt, at the expense of Bailley Cargill.
It was an entertaining start to the game with both sides making early inroads into the opposition defence. The Stags saw an early shot from range from Aaron Lewis flash only narrowly over whilst for Town both Matty Foulds and Matty Daly got in good positions down the left-hand side, but the final delivery on both occasions failing to find a home shirt.
The visitors struck the first blow though on eight minutes. Town failed to clear their lines from a corner and an unmarked Brunt made no mistake from ten yards out.
Only the excellence of Mark Oxley prevented Town from falling further behind on 12 minutes. Louis Reed picked up possession on the edge of the area and wasted no time in getting his shot away, only for Oxley at full stretch to tip the ball over.
Midway through the half Oxley was again alert, this time to quickly get down low to smother a shot from Lucas Akins.
Ollie Clarke then profited from hesitation amongst the Town defence to aim a shot at Oxley’s but the direction was lacking and the effort sailed harmlessly wide.
Town responded on the half-hour mark when a marauding Kayne Ramsay run from his own half to the edge of the Mansfield box ignited the crowd. He was unlucky to see his effort deflected away to safety.
Ten minutes before the break Town fell further behind. They had twice looked as though they had escaped the danger, first when Oxley saved from Davis Keillor-Dunn before Clarke struck the rebound against the post but Akins was on hand to fire home.
Less than a minute later the game was all but over. Keillor-Dunn’s shot on goal was deflected by the Town defence but straight into the path of Akins who steered home.
There were two changes for Town at the break, Abraham Odoh and Josh Falkingham coming on for Muldoon and Dean Cornelius.
The changes almost had an immediate impact when Odoh set up Daly, who beat the first man before seeing his shot deflected behind for a corner.
Odon then ghosted in beyond the backline to meet Ramsay’s cross to the far post but his header was safely dealt with by Christie Pym.
Town were certainly brighter after the break, Odoh in particular involved in several positive passages of play but for all of their effort they couldn’t fashion the clear cut chance to provide them with some semblance of hope.
The visitors meanwhile continued to threaten, breaking quickly out of nowhere to put Town on the back foot with Keillor-Dunn’s chip dropping narrowly wide of Oxley’s post.
Folarin’s pace was always a threat for the Stags defence and having moved into a more advanced position following the half-time changes he carved out an opportunity but fired over the bar.
Ramsay then saw his name go into the book when he was adjudged to have attempted to win a penalty before Callum MacDonald was shown a yellow card for dissent.
Akins was denied the hat-trick with twenty minutes remaining when Oxley turned away his powerful shot at goal from just inside the penalty area.
The Stags were not to be denied though when Maris fired home with fifteen minutes remaining when he slotted home coolly from Keillor-Dunn’s pass.
The goal saw a trio of changes from Nigel Clough with Callum Johnson, James Gale and Hiram Boateng for Lewis, Maris and Callum MacDonald before Luke Armstrong and Josh March were introduced for Daly and Folarin.
Keillor-Dunn was inches away from adding a fifth with only a strong hand from Oxley turning his shot away, with the midfielder withdrawn shortly after following a showing of immense quality.
Town grabbed a goal with ten minutes remaining when Sutton fired home from distance off the undersisde of the bar which was reward for a brighter showing after the break but it was little more than consolation.