Mansfield Town suffered their first Sky Bet League Two defeat of the season after losing 2-0 to Plymouth Argyle this afternoon.
A first half Graham Carey brace saw Stags fall to their first loss of the season in their fourth match, despite putting up a strong second half display.
The Stags started the game brightly, but it was Plymouth Argyle who took the lead in the 19th minute with a curling free-kick from midfielder Graham Carey, who then doubled the home side’s lead five minutes later after cutting in from the right-hand side to beat goalkeeper Brian Jensen.
Adam Murray's side had the first shot of the game in the opening minute, but midfielder midfielder Adam Chapman’s ambitious effort from his own half was easily dealt with by Pilgrims’ stopper Luke McCormick.
Mansfield kept up the early pressure and midfielder Mitchell Rose could have given Town the lead after being found in space at the far post by an Ashley Hemmings cross, but Rose was unable to properly control the ball from the winger's cross as it went out for a goal kick.
Argyle could have taken the lead in the sixth minute of the game with their first chance when an effort from winger Jake Jervis was blocked well by Stags’ skipper Lee Collins.
The ball then fell to midfielder Carey on the edge of the box who looked to hit a curling an effort into the bottom corner, but it was well saved by ‘keeper Jensen.
Plymouth were starting to grow into the game and almost got in behind the Stags’ defence when striker Jimmy Spencer played in Jervis on the right wing, but Collins was again there to deny the Plymouth Argyle winger.
Carey was looking a threat for Argyle and found Spencer on the edge of the box, but centre-half Kyle Howkins tackled well to keep out the Pilgrims.
Argyle continued to create the more chances and right-back Oscar Threlkeld found himself in space on the right-hand side, but Jensen was equal to the defender’s effort.
Stags conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 18th minute after Chris Clements brought down Carey just a few yards from the byline. The Argyle man picked himself up to curl the free-kick past both the wall and Jensen to give the Pilgrims the lead amidst a packed penalty box.
Stags looked to hit back and Clements played in striker Matt Green on the right-hand side who crossed in towards the far post, but Threlkeld headed the ball out for a Mansfield corner, which was well dealt with by the Plymouth defence.
The Devon side went straight up the other end and doubled their lead.
Carey, who was playing with great confidence, picked up the ball on the right wing, cut inside and took the ball past Benning before curling it into the roof of the net to give the home side a two-goal advantage.
Argyle came close again moments later when defender Sonny Bradley was picked out at the far post from a corner, but the Plymouth defender saw his header drift wide of Jensen’s left-hand post.
The Stags came close to reducing the lead on the half-hour mark after some good link up play from Rose and Ashley Hemmings, but the latter’s cross was headed away by Plymouth left-back Gary Sawyer at the far post, preventing Rose from finishing off the move he started.
Carey continued to control the game for Plymouth and picked out Spencer, who was unmarked twelve yards out, but a tame header was easily dealt with by Jensen.
Carey found Threlkeld in space on the right who picked out Spencer on the edge of the box and the former Notts County man tried to beat Jensen at his near post, but the Dane made a good save to put the ball behind for a corner.
Sawyer linked up well with winger Ryan Donaldson to win a corner after a good block from Howkins saw the ball go behind, but the Stags cleared and looked to counter, however the Argyle defence got back well to prevent Hemmings from getting in behind.
Stags almost halved the deficit five minutes before half time when Green picked out Rose on the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s effort went just over McCormick’s bar.
Mansfield again came close on the stroke of half time, after Pilgrims' centre-half Sonny Bradley brought down Hemmings on the edge of the box. Mal Benning’s free-kick was hit into a dangerous area and could have led to a goal, but Bradley was there to clear the danger for the Pilgrims.
Stags had the last chance of the first half when Green found himself in space on the edge of the box, but his effort on goal was blocked by Sawyer. Right-back Rhys Bennett tried to keep the move alive, but he was unable to find a Mansfield man with his cross from the right.
The Stags made a positive start to the second half with substitute Darius Henderson, who replaced Ashley Hemmings at the break, winning a throw on the left-hand side after his cross was blocked by Threlkeld.
Hurst then put in a dangerous looking cross from the left, but towering defender Nauris Bulvitis was there to head clear. Hurst then played in a similar cross and Bulvitis again was there to deny the former Southend man.
The Stags had possibly their best chance of the match when Clements’ ball from midfield found Henderson with his back to goal who linked up well with Green, but the frontman was unable to add to his tally for the season as his shot from the edge of box was hit straight at McCormick.
Moments later Argyle could have made it three when defensive midfielder Yann Songo’o found Threlkeld in an attacking area, but the his cross into six-yard box was claimed confidently by Stags’ stopper Jensen.
Mansfield were looking dangerous on the left and almost found themselves with an opening in the 54th minute, but Benning’s cross was put behind by Songo’o.
The Stags were growing into the game and again came close to reducing the deficit when Clements let fly from twenty yards out, but the ball sailed just over the top corner.
Town continued to look for a way back into the game and won a succession of corners around the hour mark, but the Plymouth defence held firm and prevented the Stags from creating any real chances.
Henderson and Green were combining well and causing problems for the Argyle defence. In the 67th minute, Green played in Henderson on the edge of the area, but the experienced striker was unable to net his first goal for Mansfield as his effort was well met by McCormick.
Midfielder Chapman was the next to try and reduce the deficit, but his effort from 30 yards out sailed harmlessly into the stand behind the Plymouth goal. Almost immediately after, the home side had a similar effort with Songo’o the man unable to guide his effort on target.
Stags were doing well to keep Carey quiet in the second half, but a burst forward on the left saw him work his way into a dangerous area, before being brought down by Rose on the edge of the box.
Midfielder Connor Smith played the free-kick into the middle, but was unable to find a team-mate which led to substitute CJ Hamilton breaking forward, but after a long run, his effort was blocked.
Henderson then picked up the loose ball and played in Benning on the edge of the box, but the full back’s effort was straight at team-mate Green and Plymouth were able to clear at the second attempt.
Defender Kyle Howkins then picked up the ball on the edge of his own area, ran the length of the pitch, taking on numerous Plymouth players in the process, and managed to win a corner for his side.
However, McCormick claimed the resulting corner in his six-yard box.
Mansfield were running out of time to get back into the game, but had a chance with ten minutes to play when a Benning free-kick was lofted into the area, but Songo’o was there to clear the ball the length of the field.
The Stags came close to pulling one back after an unorthodox clearance from Jordan Slew saw him fire the ball just over his own crossbar.
This was to prove the last chance of the game, which saw the Stags fall to their first defeat of the season, despite an encouraging second half display.
Stags’ XI: Brian Jensen, Rhys Bennett, Lee Collins ©, Kyle Howkins, Malvind Benning, Adam Chapman, Kevan Hurst (CJ Hamilton 62’), Mitchell Rose (George Taft 77’), Chris Clements, Ashley Hemmings (Darius Henderson 45’), Matt Green
Unused Subs: James Baxendale, Jamie McGuire, Jason Law, Zayn Hakeem.
Plymouth XI: Luke McCormick, Oscar Threlkeld, Nauris Bulvitis, Sonny Bradley, Gary Sawyer, Yann Songo’o, Connor Smith (Ben Purrington 90’), Ryan Donaldson, Jake Jervis (David Goodwillie 70’), Jimmy Spencer (Jordan Slew 86’), Graham Carey.
Unused Subs: Vincent Dorel (GK), David Ijaha, David Fox, Craig Tanner
Attendance: 6,935 (209 away)