A new look Mansfield Town suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat against title contenders Burton, despite a much improved second half performance.
Mansfield made seven changes to the side following their defeat at Bury after a busy start to the transfer window, and all of the new signings were included.
Meanwhile the hosts named an unchanged team from their victory over Shrewsbury Town, with Darragh Lenihan their only new signing who is on loan from Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Two first half goals for the home side gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break, a free kick from Matty Palmer alongside a Kelvin Maynard header the difference.
Stags however came out strongly after the re-start and Reggie Lambe drew a goal back from a throw in and set up an exciting second half.
Mansfield pushed hard for an equaliser in the second half, but couldn’t find the goal against title contenders Burton.
Mansfield created the first 30 seconds of the afternoon, when Lambe burst in to the box after a return pass from Chris Clements, but his shot hit the side netting.
The hosts responded immediately though when Darragh Lenihan drove a shot from far which ricocheted off the edge of the post.
In the eighth minute Ritchie Sutton conceded a foul on the edge of the box and from the resulting set-piece, the Stags were made to pay.
Palmer’s shot managed to find its way through the crowd and thanks to a deflection it went in to the bottom corner, for his first ever league goal.
In the 14th minute Mansfield conceded another free-kick in another dangerous position, this time central to goal, and Palmer almost doubled his goal tally but his shot went just wide of the target.
Stags remained limited to corner kicks as their best attempt to carve out an equaliser, but didn’t look like threatening early on.
Burton’s Lenihan tried a shot from outside of the box and skipper Martin Riley headed over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Palmer turned provider and his corner was headed in by Maynard in to the bottom corner.
Stags tried to cut the deficit straight away and Junior Brown forced a corner down the left hand side, but no Mansfield players could meet the ball.
Debutant Billy Kee who previously played at Burton, had a great chance for Stags’ when a mix up in the defence presented him with an opportunity one on one with the keeper, but his shot was saved well.
Vadaine Oliver chased a ball over the top on a counter attack, but the home side’s skipper, John Mousinho, defended calmly.
After the two goals the fans were restricted to very few chances in the rest of the half, as title-chasing Burton seemed content with their lead.
The second half initially saw Burton come out the quicker and it was Palmer again with the effort, this time an audacious volley that went over the bar.
Oliver flicked on from a thrown in moments later to try bring Mansfield back in to the match, but goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin gathered comfortably.
Once again Oliver tried to reduce the deficit with a shot from 25 yards out which went just wide of the goalkeeper’s goal.
And the hard pressure paid off in the 51st minute when Lambe celebrated signing a loan extension by poking home the ball from a Michael Raynes header and send new hopes in to the travelling fans.
The score was nearly levelled straight away when Lambe broke through the heart of the defence, but his touch let him down and the goalkeeper smothered the ball.
Kee picked up his first booking for the club when he challenged Lenihan in the middle of the park and received a yellow card.
Striker Jacob Blyth soon after picked up the hosts’ first yellow card for a dubious push on two Stags defenders.
The home side did however mount their own response with a series of several corners to try find a decisive goal for them.
A man who seemed at the heart of most things in the game Lenihan went in to the referee’s book for a sliding tackle in his own half.
Stags pressured for an equaliser and Clements played in Sutton on the right hand side of the penalty box, but he couldn’t find the correct cross for the striker queuing up.
Soon after, Lambe nearly scored again after rounding the goalkeeper however Damien McCrory made the decisive defensive clearance.
The chances began to tally up for Stags, a Kee flick on fell to the feet of Lambe whose left footed shot tested the goalkeeper.
In the closing moments both sides made changes with Matt Rhead replacing the impressive Lambe, and the hosts replaced one of their goal scorers Maynard with Adam McGurk. Shortly after Burton made their second change with Stuart Beavon being replaced by Lucas Akins.
Stags continued to pile the pressure on later on and substitute Rhead crossed for Oliver, but his header floated in to the ‘keeper’s arms.
Burton still looked for a goal which would have killed the game late on, striker Blyth drilled a shot at goal, but it was caught well by Adam Smith, however an equaliser seemed the most likely.
In additional time, Burton made their final change as they looked to shut up shop when their hero Palmer was replaced by Ian Sharps, also Mansfield replaced Callum Elder with Dan Fletcher.
Stags pushed for that late equaliser with several crosses however couldn’t find the important goal.