Andy Todd’s second-string fell to a narrow 3-2 defeat in their Central League Cup encounter against Hartlepool United at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Charlie Wyke fired home from Jack Baldwin’s cross as the visitors went ahead on the half-hour mark, before Brad Walker doubled the advantage shortly after the break.
Mansfield then hit two goals in the space of four frantic minutes courtesy of Nick Wright and Jake Speight respectively, though Rhys Harbottle’s strike, sandwiched between the two, gave Hartlepool the win.
The Stags began in determined fashion against their youthful opponents and Jake Speight drew a fine save from Hartlepool shot-stopper Mark Foden with an early low-drive from the edge of the area.
Matt Rhead then headed wide after Liam Marsden caused pandemonium with a looping long-throw into the six-yard box, before George Pilkington saw an effort blocked by Darren Holen.
James Poole fired straight at Alan Marriott as Hartlepool created their first opening on 20 minutes, although Luke James lacked accuracy with a 25-yard attempt moments later.
The visitors began to dominate proceedings as the first period progressed and came within inches of an opener when Wyke’s close-range attempt was superbly blocked on the line by Marsden.
Nevertheless, the hosts failed to heed the earlier warning and fell behind on the half-hour mark, as the dangerous Wyke slotted home after Baldwin crossed from the left.
Luckless Mansfield then created a series of good chances, but were unable to find an equaliser before the break.
Nick Wright tested Foden’s reflexes with a thunderous 20-yard drive, whilst Speight registered two attempts on target, the latter of which was headed off the line by Nathan Buddle.
The Stags almost drew level seven minutes after the re-start when Matt Rhead’s nonchalant back-heel flick towards goal was cleared by Josh Rowbotham at the back-post.
Greg Rutherford’s long-range strike was then tipped over by Marriott, but the veteran shot-stopper was unable to prevent Walker from doubling the lead with a low 18-yard drive on the hour mark.
The Pools could have added a third goal soon afterwards, when Wyke rounded ‘keeper Marriott, but saw his powerful shot bravely blocked on the line by Marsden.
Despite enjoying plenty of possession, Mansfield offered little in the way of a response until Paul Johnson untidily collided with Wright inside the area with 15 minutes remaining.
Wright powerfully fired beyond the desperate Foden from the resulting spot-kick, to reduce arrears to give his side hope ahead of what proved to be a frantic few minutes.
Nevertheless, hopes of a Stags comeback looked to have evaporated for good less than 60 seconds later, as Hartlepool substitute Harbottle capitalised on some static defending to extend the visitors lead once more.
But when Foden bizarrely fumbled Junior Daniel’s right-wing delivery straight into the path of Speight two minutes later, the Mansfield striker tapped home to once again give the hosts hope.
However, despite two attempts from Speight and a powerful drive from substitute Ben Clark in the dying exchanges, the visitors remained resilient in order to claim victory.