Mansfield Town slumped to a shock 4-1 defeat to Worksop Town earlier tonight.
The Stags could take few positives from a lacklustre performance in which they were out-thought and sometimes out-fought by the rampant Tigers.
The anticipated script at Sandy Lane failed to go to plan from the outset as kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes due to Worksop’s late pre-match warm up.
In the early exchanges, Ross Dyer, making his first appearance since suffering knee ligament damage almost a year ago, blazed over following an intelligent flick on by Louis Briscoe.
At the other end, Leon Mettam’s snapshot was comfortably caught by Ian Deakin as Worksop wasted their first chance on the quarter-hour mark.
Mettam’s striker partner Tom Denton soon came closer, however, when his powerful near-post header following a left-sided corner, forced Deakin into a full-stretch fingertip stop.
Chances were being created at frequent intervals and Ben Hutchinson was the next to try his luck with a low drive, only to be denied by Ben Hallam.
On 21 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken – and it was by the hosts!
Phil Roe weaved his way inside from the left flank and his low cut-back was swept into the bottom corner by a grateful Mettam, who wheeled away in celebration.
The Stags had been given a wake up call and threatened a quick response with both Briscoe and Lindon Meikle firing wide prior to the half-hour mark.
Meikle and summer signing Keiran Murtagh came no closer as The Stags began to dictate play, whilst Paul Black also had an appeal for a spot-kick waved away.
After the re-start, substitute Jordan Robertson had a low shot turned around the post, before Martin Riley’s header from Murray’s resulting flag kick, drew a comfortable catch.
Mansfield continued to press forward and the lively Godfrey Poku helped set-up Muratgh in a move which ended with Murtagh firing just over the woodwork.
With The Stags pressing men forward there was always a danger that Worksop could add a second on the counter-attack, and that’s what proved to be the case.
On 63 minutes, Denton was put clean through and the big man did well to round a grounded Deakin inside the area and slot into the net from an acute angle.
Jack Muldoon whistled a shot into the side-netting before Mitch Husbands’ 30-yard drive was palmed away by Deakin, as The Tigers threatened to add a third.
But just as it looked the match may peter out without further incident, The Stags halved the deficit with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
Nathan Arnold advanced goalwards having been brilliantly put through by Murtagh, but his powerful low drive was diverted away by Hallam at the expense of a corner.
At this point, Murtagh was again instrumental as his inviting ball across the six-yard box was tucked away by Robertson, with Riley and trialist Evan Garnett also close to the incident.
Nevertheless, any hopes that Mansfield may have harboured about a comeback were shattered on the cusp of added time when The Tigers struck again in bizarre circumstances.
Hallam’s long set-piece was headed backwards by John Dempster, but Deakin, too far advanced off his goal-line, watched in horror as the ball trickled into an empty net.
And Mansfield’s miserable night went from bad to worse deep into stoppage time as Tom Mullen curled a delightful right-footed effort into the top corner.
Mansfield: Deakin, Riley, Black, Murtagh, Dempster, Sutton, Meikle, Murray (c), Hutchinson, Dyer, Briscoe. Subs Used: Arnold, Robertson, Garnett, Poku.