Mansfield Town were defeated 1-0 by Leyton Orient this afternoon as they went in search of an eleventh away victory of the season.
On a glorious day in East London it was former Stag Ollie Palmer who headed home the winner from midfielder Lloyd James’ free-kick in the second half.
Stags’ boss Adam Murray made three changes to the side that drew against Barnet last week with defender Krystian Pearce, winger Reggie Lambe and midfielder Mitchell Rose coming into the side in place of the injured Colin Daniel and Jack Thomas, whilst attacking midfielder James Baxendale dropped to the bench.
Forward Jason Law was an unused substitute as he was involved with the first team for the first time since his move from non-league Carlton Town.
Mansfield started the game in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with captain Lee Collins sliding across to right-back with Pearce slotting in alongside Ryan Tafazolli at the heart of the Stags’ defence.
Former Newport County man Adam Chapman anchored a midfield which saw Matty Blair and Rose in the centre with Lambe and Mani Dieseruvwe on the wings, supporting lone striker Matt Green.
The hosts were without captain Mathieu Baudry who missed out through injury, whilst former Stag Nicky Hunt was ruled out through illness.
Defender Aron Pollock started for the O’s to make his professional debut whilst winger Sandro Semedo was also making his first start for the London club.
The Stags had the ball in the net after only four minutes when Dieseruvwe confidently slid the ball home, but assistant referee Lisa Rashid ruled his effort out for offside.
The hosts’ first sight of goal fell to wideman Blair Turgott after eight minutes as he pounced on Tafazolli’s mistake, but his low effort was parried away by Shearer before Pearce cleared the danger.
Palmer had a golden opportunity after ten minutes and his miss shocked everybody inside the Matchroom Stadium. The striker got the better of Tafazolli and rounded Shearer, but with the goal gaping, he wanted too many touches before rolling the ball into the empty net, allowing the Stags’ defence to get back in and snuff out the danger.
In the next attack the Stags had their first real chance of the game when Bermudian Lambe curled a deep cross to the back post where Dieseruvwe beat Cisak to the ball, but he could only glance his header wide with the ‘keeper flapping.
Dieseruvwe created an opening just past the half-hour mark for the Stags when he ran in from the right and bamboozled his defender with some great feet and his low cross found Lambe six yards out, but his effort was blocked by an Orient defender.
In the next Stags’ attack it was another wide delivery which threatened to break the deadlock, this time it was from the left with Benning’s cross just evading Blair at the back post.
Ten minutes before half-time it was the visitors who looked the most likely to open the scoring when Chapman fizzed a low free-kick from a similar position to his wonder strike against Notts County, but Alex Cisak got down well to parry and Tafazolli couldn’t take advantage of the rebound.
But it was Orient who came out stronger in the second period, Palmer chested down a long ball inside the area and his low effort ricocheted off the near post just seconds into the second-half.
And it was the former Mansfield forward who opened the scoring five minutes into the second period. Orient captain Lloyd James floated in a free-kick from the right and it was Palmer who rose highest to head past Shearer from eight yards out.
As the Stags looked to mount a comeback, Reggie Lambe made good progress down the right as he turned a couple of defenders but his left-footed effort wasn’t strong enough to test Cisak.
Ten minutes into the second-half it was Lambe again who threatened to pull the Stags level when he collected a loose ball following a Chapman corner and his left-footed strike on the turn cannoned back off the crossbar.
Goalscorer Palmer had an opportunity to double his tally for the afternoon just past the hour mark when he raced in behind the Stags’ defence, but his powerful effort went wide of Shearer’s left-hand post.
Midway through the second the period, the Stags stepped up their pursuit of an equaliser when substitute Chris Clements clipped a ball towards the six-yard box but Cisak palmed the ball away from danger with Green waiting to pounce.
Orient responded from a dead ball situation when frontman Palmer won a free-kick 25-yards from goal after drawing a foul from Tafazolli and captain James curled the ball just wide from the dead ball with Shearer diving at full-stretch.
The Stags had a chance from a free-kick of their own just moments later. Green was cynically brought down by midfielder James 25-yards out but Benning could only curl the ball over Cisak’s goal.
Stags threw bodies forward as they continued in their pursuit of an equaliser as Pearce and Tafazolli joined Green and substitute Adi Yussuf up front, but the visitors couldn’t create an opening with the O’s defending resolutely.
Mansfield now look forward to hosting Cambridge United next Saturday as their 2015/16 Sky Bet League 2 campaign comes to an end at One Call Stadium.
O’s XI: Cisak (GK), Clohessey, Pollock, Brisley, Ramage (Binnom-Williams 58’), Turgott, Atangana (Moore 46’), James, Semedo (Koroma 71’), Palmer, Simpson.
Unused subs: Sargeant, Payne, Kashket, Gnanduillet.
Stags’ XI: Shearer (GK), Collins, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman, Rose (Baxendale 69’), Blair, Lambe (Yussuf 74’), Green, Dieseruvwe (Clements 60’).
Unused subs: Jensen (GK), McGuire, Law, Shires.
Attendance: 4,257 (358 away fans)