The Stags created numerous chances which they were unable to convert and ultimately paid the price, as the hosts snatched a victory with around a quarter-of-an-hour left to go.
On a muggy evening in North Nottingham, the Badgers got things underway and had a positive start.
Goalkeeper Adam Bishop, in his first appearance of the season, had some work to do in the early exchanges as he saved a couple of shots from Retford’s Adam Lee.
The Stags were then dealt a setback on 11 minutes when one of three trialists, playing in an attacking role, suffered a knock and had to be replaced by youth team scholar Tyler Blake.
Mansfield then mustered up their first opening of the game a couple of minutes later when Anthony Dwyer delivered a right-wing cross towards Corbin Shires, who saw his downwards header saved by the home ‘keeper.
Substitute Blake saw a low attempt saved a couple of minutes later following some good work by another of the Stags’ trialists.
The visitors then created a flurry of openings in quick succession midway through the first half, but were thwarted by their counterparts.
Blake saw a lobbed effort over an on-rushing ‘keeper hooked away to safety in one move, whilst Chris Spencer was unfortunate to miscue an effort as the ball bobbled up just in front of him, when he was in a good position.
The Stags’ lively unnamed trialist had the best opening though. After showing excellent timing and footwork to connect to a fine through ball by Dwyer, he took the ball round the ‘keeper and did everything right, but his shot was knocked off the line by a defender.
Retford’s ‘keeper continued to deal with everything thrown at him as Dwyer then had two shots saved, whilst Dan Fletcher was also denied in a one-on-one situation.
The game remained goalless at the break with Mansfield frustrated at being unable to have made a breakthrough, despite having dominated for large parts.
After the re-start, Retford within a whisker of grabbing a surprise opener as a low shot squirmed past Adam Bishop and had to be knocked off the goal line by Shires, before the ‘keeper was able to clutch the ball into his grasp.
The Badgers then had an escape of their own as Dwyer did all the hard work with a great pull-back towards Fletcher inside the area, who was just about to pull the trigger on a shot when the ball bobbled up and drifted away from him.
Two substitutions were made either side of the hour mark as Drew Gibson and Cameron Healy came on for Joe Fitzpatrick and Shires, respectively.
Despite the fact the game was a pre-season friendly, referee Hristo Karaivanov failed to clamp down on a number of strong challenges from Retford players as the match wore on.
The Badgers’ needless physicality irked the Stags, and, as a result, the hosts seemed to have more of the possession in the closing stages.
Eventually, the hosts made it pay when Adam Lee capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Bishop and Spencer and slammed the ball home from just inside the area with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
In darkening conditions, the Stags threw on two late substitutes, Morgan Radcliffe and Kane Smith, respectively, but another of those players introduced, Tom Marriott, almost grabbed a late equaliser.
The diminutive 16-year-old saw a powerful strike from inside the area warm the hands of the Retford ‘keeper, who did well to keep it out.