Mansfield Town’s six game unbeaten run came to an end this afternoon as two second-half goals saw Forest Green Rovers secure a 2-0 victory at The New Lawn.
Stags looked the more threatening in the first-half but were unable to up the ante in a second period which also saw captain Krystian Pearce sent off for a second yellow card.
The opening goal arrived in the 55th minute when a low ball from the left found Reuben Reid who finished calmly past Mansfield ‘keeper Conrad Logan.
The Stags huffed and puffed in a revival bid but after Rovers doubled their advantage on 78 minutes through Dayle Grubb there was no way back.
Stags' boss David Flitcroft made three changes to the eleven that started the dramatic 1-1 draw with Notts County last time out with the Stags switching to a 4-3-3 formation.
Paul Anderson was moved to the bench, making way for Hayden White to return to right back. In midfield, Will Atkinson replaced Adam King whilst Lee Angol joined Danny Rose and Kane Hemmings in attack with CJ Hamilton named as a substitute.
Hamilton’s time on the bench did not last long however as in the opening minute of the game, top ‘scorer Danny Rose picked up an injury which brought an early end to his afternoon. Despite trying to continue, Rose was replaced by winger Hamilton in the fourth minute.
In the early stages of the game, the Stags approach play looked promising and in the opening ten minutes both full backs, Hayden White and Mal Benning, overlapped before delivering crosses into the box.
After Stags enjoyed more of the ball in the early exchanges, CJ Hamilton raced clear on the left flank in the 17th minute but his cross was deflected safely into the hands of Collins.
Two minutes later, Forest Green almost took the lead. A ball in from the right eventually made its way to Dayle Grubb on the edge of the Mansfield area and after shifting the ball onto his right foot, his curling effort flew onto the frame of the goal.
At the other end, midfielders Alex MacDonald and Will Atkinson both tried their luck for the Stags but MacDonald saw his shot from 35 yards go wide of the target whilst Atkinson’s effort from just inside the area was well blocked.
The two teams continued to go in search of that precious opening goal and Mansfield almost got it in the 42nd minute but Mal Benning, found by a terrific ball in from the right by MacDonald, saw his header loop onto the roof of the net.
The Stags continued to flex their muscles and in the 44th minute, midfielder Joel Byrom picked up a loose ball 30 yards from goal before fizzing a shot from distance just wide of the target.
With the deadlock intact at half time, both teams will have been hoping to start the second half on the front foot to try and claim the initiative.
Up to this point Logan in the Mansfield goal had been untested but in the 52nd minute he had to be at this best. Striker Reuben Reid was slipped through inside the area but the former Hibernian ‘keeper was off his line quick to get down to Reid’s shot and parry the ball away.
Three minutes later however, Forest Green did take the lead. Grubb sent a low ball in from the left wing and it eventually found its way to Reid who this time made no mistake, firing past Logan.
The Stags now needed a big performance to acquire something from the game and they almost scored with an immediate response.
MacDonald sent a ball in from the right and with Benning running in to head home, the ball was taken off his head by CJ Hamilton who rose highest but couldn’t keep his header down.
On the hour mark, Mansfield made their second change of the game as forward Lee Angol was replaced by on-loan Peterborough man Ricky Miller in a like-for-like substitution.
In the 63rd minute, the Stags almost created a clear, scoring opportunity as they broke two-on-one. Hamilton used his pace to race clear and he looked to pick out Kane Hemmings in the middle but his pass was intercepted by a Forest Green defender.
Mansfield continued to try and find a way back into the game and Ricky Miller almost proved to be an impact sub but his low, drilled shot from a tight angle went just past the far post.
It was then the turn of Forest Green to go close and Logan had to produce a stunning save to keep the Stags in the contest.
Reuben Reid, receiving the ball just inside the area, spun to bend an effort towards the top corner. The shot appeared to be heading for the back of the net but Logan flew to his left to get a big hand to the ball to palm it away.
Then the hosts doubled their advantage on 78. Dayle Grubb pounced on a misplaced Mansfield pass to create some space on the right of the area and from a tight angle, he was able to place the ball past Logan.
That goal forced Mansfield into their final change as they brought on striker Jimmy Spencer in place of midfielder Joel Byrom.
Despite this, it was Forest Green who should have scored again. Tahvon Campbell was found free just outside the six yard box but he failed to keep his header down as the Stags breathed a sigh of relief.
Mansfield then suffered a blow as they were reduced to ten men. Captain Krystian Pearce, who was booked by referee Antony Coggins in the first half, picked up a second yellow card and was duly shown his marching orders.
That topped off what was a disappointing day at the office for the Stags as they suffered their first loss under new boss David Flitcroft.
STAGS’ XI: Logan, White, Bennett, Pearce ©, Benning, Atkinson, Byrom (Spencer 78), MacDonald, Rose (Hamilton 4'), Angol (Miller 60), Hemmings
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Digby, Anderson, King
FOREST GREEN XI: B.Collins, Bennett, L.Collins © (Clements 90’), Grubb, Gunning, Wishart, Campbell, Reid, Bray (Laird 86’), Hollis, Osbourne
SUBS NOT USED: Belford, Brown, Simpson, Cooper
ATTENDANCE: 2,827 (430 away)
REFEREE: Antony Coggins