Our second-string were consigned to a 3-2 defeat, despite a brave second half showing against Doncaster Rovers in the Final Third Development League.
Goals either side of half-time meant that Mansfield trailed 3-0 by 50 minutes, but a penalty from Matt Rhead and a strike by Rakish Bingham set up a grandstand finale, during which the Stags dominated possession but couldn’t force an equaliser.
The Stags got proceedings underway and could have opened the scoring inside the first 25 seconds when Matt Rhead latched onto a floated ball forward, but the burly frontman’s effort went wide of the post.
Mansfield continued to look threatening – with Rhead causing all sorts of problems with his strength and aerial prowess, but Doncaster’s defence, marshalled by Liam Wakefield, limited opportunities to a minimum.
On 12 minutes, the visitors went close again. Fisher played a defence-splitting ball through towards Rhead, who was taken away from goal but still managed to force Slovakian ‘keeper Marco Marosi into a low save.
The Stags were camped for large spells in their opponents’ half, but Doncaster still looked threatening on the break and both Corbin Shires, then Liam Marsden, had to make blocks to stop Sascha Studer from being tested.
Mansfield had a couple of chances in relatively quick succession just shy of the half-hour mark with Rakish Bingham going close, whilst a free header from 15 yards by Fisher forced a back-peddling Marosi into a save.
Somewhat against the run of play, Rovers then opened the scoring. Studer could only parry a curling shot from the edge of the area towards an on-rushing Lewis Ferguson, who poked the ball home from a couple of yards out.
Things then got worse before half-time as Donny doubled their advantage thanks to Pugh, who saw his lob-shot beat a back-peddling Studer and nestle in the bottom corner.
In pouring rain and horrible lashing wind, Mansfield’s misery was increased further shortly after the re-start as Alex Head let fly with an effort from approximately 20 yards, which drifted beyond Studer and into the bottom-right corner.
Despite being three goals down, however, the Stags weren’t about to throw the towel in and they completed dominated possession for a prolonged period in the second half.
Rhead almost reduced arrears on 54 minutes when he got on the end of a dangerous right-sided corner by Joe Fitzpatrick and unleashed a shot, which had to be blocked by Liam Wakefield to prevent it from going in.
The Stags’ pressure didn’t end there as they won a penalty a couple of minutes later when Bingham was fouled inside the box. Rhead coolly dispatched the subsequent spot-kick – sending Marosi the wrong way – and then rushed to collect the ball as he sensed a comeback could be on the cards.
The impressive Wakefield was undoubtedly Doncaster’s best defender, offering a good presence in the air and making sure his team were organised at the back, but after blocking a powerful close-range shot by Bingham with his ankle on 62 minutes, he required lengthy treatment.
He eventually had to limp off injured, but not before Mansfield had bitten further into Doncaster’s lead, with Bingham halving the deficit from eight yards after a long-throw by Liam Marsden was flicked on by Rhead.
The Stags threw caution to the wind and continued to dictate play in the closing stages. Rhead should have been awarded a penalty when he got blatantly pushed over inside the area, whilst Mitchell Rose forced an excellent stop from Marosi.
At the end of three minutes of injury-time, substitute Tyler Blake burst away and had a chance to get a shot away on goal, but his effort went wide of the woodwork and Donny held on to record a 3-2 win.