Crawley Town ended Mansfield’s impressive unbeaten league run in a frenetic encounter at Broadfield Stadium.
The hosts were pegged back after leading 2-0 inside the opening 15 minutes, but Stags let it slip after the break as Ashley Nadesan’s second goal – Crawley’s third – ultimately proved decisive.
Mansfield had previously gone seven games without defeat in Sky Bet League Two and despite Jordan Bowery and George Lapslie getting on the scoresheet, they left West Sussex empty handed.
Midfielder Anthony Hartigan and forward Will Swan were drafted into the lineup for Stephen McLaughlin (sore knee) and Stephen Quinn, with the latter moved to the subs’ bench.
Defender James Perch, meanwhile, was out with illness.
As the game ticked just beyond the first minute, Stags were dealt an early blow when Crawley took the lead.
Frontman Ashley Nadesan latched onto a neat pass on the left-hand side of the Stags’ box and kept his composure to slot it into the bottom right corner.
The home side, buoyed by their bright start, looked to double their advantage in the seventh minute as James Tilley turned his man on the edge of the box but lashed straight at Stags’ goalkeeper Christy Pym.
Mansfield were rocked when Crawley extended their advantage in the 13th minute.
Stags’ defence was statue-esque inside the box as a deep free-kick was whipped in from the right and Tom Nichols was allowed to power his header beyond Christy Pym from close range to give the Red Devils an electrifying start.
The drama continued - this time at the other end - as Stags were handed a lifeline by the awarding of a spot kick in the 15th minute.
Following a long Mansfield throw, the referee spotted a blatant handball by Crawley frontman Nichols and Jordan Bowery coolly stepped up to direct his penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, sending home ‘keeper David Robson the wrong way.
And as Stags grew into the game, they levelled the contest in the 27th minute.
Elliott Hewitt delivered a delicious cross from the right flank and George Lapslie expertly nodded down into the net from six yards.
Nigel Clough’s men should have then taken the lead.
From 25 yards, George Maris smashed a free-kick against the wall and Bowery reacted quickest to divert it towards Swan, whose first time shot flew wide of the near post.
Swan missed a double chance to score as Stags upped the gears.
The Forest loanee slipped inside the box as he was poised to shoot and moments later, the same man dragged his effort wide after being played in by Maris.
Pym was then needed as he pushed away James Tilley’s swerving drive, though it looked like Mansfield should have had a free-kick for a foul in the build up.
Just like the start to the first-half, Crawley started the second period at break-neck speed and restored their lead just two minutes after the break.
Nadesan got the better of Harbottle inside the Stags’ box and one-on-one with the goalkeeper - slotted beyond Pym.
Harbottle was then replaced by John-Joe O’Toole in Stags’ first change.
Pym came to Stags’ rescue in the 51st minute.
Nichols turned well on the edge of the D before unleashing powerfully towards the top left corner, but the shot-stopper was equal to it with a superb one-handed save.
At the other end, goalkeeper Robson was well behind Swan’s 25 yard attempt as Stags sought an equaliser.
Anthony Hartigan missed the target with an effort from outside the box as the visitors endeavoured to force Crawley’s backline deeper to their own goal.
On 69 minutes, John-Joe O’Toole was well placed inside the box to block Nadesan’s low shot, which would have surely otherwise tested Pym.
With 17 minutes remaining, Mansfield made a treble change as Ollie Clarke, Anthony Hartigan and Jordan Bowery were replaced by Stephen Quinn, Kieran Wallace and Hiram Boateng.
As Stags looked to pile on the pressure, Hawkins – thrown up top since the three changes – saw his shot blocked inside the area.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Hewitt hurled a throw into the box and O’Toole swivelled before striking narrowly wide from 12 yards.
And that was Stags’ last chance of the encounter as hopes of a second-half revival ended.
CRAWLEY: Robson, Johnson (Jenks 58), Francillette (Francomb 46), Conroy, Tsaroulla, Fellows (Davis 70), Powell, Hessenthaler, Tilley, Nadesan (Oteh 82), Nichols
UNUSED SUBS: Balcombe, Telford, Khaleel
STAGS: Pym, Akins, Hawkins, Harbottle (O’Toole 47), Hewitt, Bowery (Boateng 73), Hartigan (Wallace 73), Clarke (Quinn 73), Maris, Lapslie, Swan
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Law, Gale
REFEREE: Sunny Gill
ATTENDANCE: 2,802 (458 Stags’ fans)
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