Report: Stags 1-3 Blackburn
Mansfield Town bowed out of the EFL Cup after a quick fire double by Blackburn Rovers was enough to book their place in the next round.
Stags levelled the round one tie shortly after half-time as Mitchell Rose’s header cancelled out Anthony Stokes’ first-half deflected strike.
But two goals in as many minutes put Blackburn in the driving seat.
It was a gallant effort by Stags against the former English champions, now members of the English Football League Championship.
Mansfield boss Adam Murray made four changes from the line-up which faced Newport on Saturday in Sky Bet League Two in a 3-2 win.
Kyle Howkins, on loan from West Brom, made his full debut at centre-half while there were also starts for James Baxendale, CJ Hamilton and Ashley Hemmings.
It meant that defender George Taft, midfielder Kevan Hurst and attacking pair Matt Green and Danny Rose were moved to the substitutes’ bench.
And it was one of Stags’ new boys who should have tested the Rovers’ goalkeeper within the opening 90 seconds.
Connecting first to a back pass to the visiting goalkeeper, CJ Hamilton raced towards the box but his shot from the left flew wide.
Scott Shearer, the Stags goalkeeper, was called upon for the first time with six minutes played.
Adam Chapman was dispossessed in midfield, allowing Jack Byrne to lay it to the advancing Ben Marshall, whose low drive inside the Stags’ box was denied one handed by Scott Shearer.
Darragh Lenihan tested Shearer again three minutes later with a curling hit, but it was a more comfortable stop for the Glaswegian shot stopper.
Blackburn tried to build pressure and Stags’ centre half Kyle Howkins had to head behind just in front of his own goal line after a dangerous right wing cross by Blackburn.
Stags looked confident when heading forward and only mis-aimed shooting prevented Jason Steele from making a save.
After good work by Mitchell Rose, fellow midfielder Chris Clements struck wide of goal from 25 yards.
On 14 minutes, CJ Hamilton skipped away from defender Shane Duffy to fire the wrong side of the post from inside the visiting area.
Stags had Blackburn rocking at points in the first half, and Hamilton pounced again on another wayward back pass but his subsequent strike was blocked.
Moments later, Mal Benning was fouled to earn Stags a free kick 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Chris Clements to float it right-footed over the wall, but he couldn’t find the target.
There was a nervy moment midway inside the first half when Rhys Bennett played a loose pass back to Scott Shearer, almost allowing a Blackburn player to intercept. But the shot stopper was quickest to react.
Shearer could do little about Blackburn’s opening goal on 29 minutes.
Anthony Stokes played a one-two to cut into the penalty area and his goalward effort deflected off Lee Collins to deceive Shearer and roll into the far corner of the net.
Despite conceding, Stags were playing some eye-catching football, and were close to converting on 39 minutes. A neat four man move, involving Chris Clements, CJ Hamilton, James Baxendale and Mal Bennng saw the latter’s dipping cross-cum-shot fly inches away from goal.
But it took Stags only two and a half minutes to find the net after half-time.
Benning delivered from the left and amidst a packed penalty area Mitchell Rose climbed highest to plant his header beyond a despairing Steele.
Stags’ lead lasted five minutes as Blackburn restored their advantage on 53 when Shane Duffy powered his header into the net after connecting well from Conway’s corner.
Blackburn made sure of the cup win just two minutes later as Marshall assisted with a right footed assist into the box, allowing Stokes to direct his header beyond Shearer from outside the goal area.
As the game approached the hour, Marshall blasted it towards goal, stinging the palms of Shearer who claimed aerially at the second attempt.
On 64, Baxendale received the ball from Clements, before arrowing over at the North Stand end of the stadium.
At the other side of the pitch, Graham sped beyond the Stags’ defence who recovered well, forcing Graham to pull it back for Marshall, only for him to strike low at Shearer.
Chapman then arrowed an effort off target before Stags’ made a double change with 21 minutes of normal time remaining.
Stags’ boss Adam Murray introduced the striking pair of Matt Green and Danny Rose, who replaced CJ Hamilton and James Baxendale.
With 74 minutes played, Mal Benning, known for scoring spectacular goals, let fly from 25 yards with power and purpose, but his effort flew behind for a goal kick.
Before Rovers' 'keeper Steele could pump the ball downfield, teenager striker Zayn Hakeem took his place amongst the 11, replacing Chris Clements. '
The move saw Stags field three attackers in the last 15 minutes in a bid for a goal.
Late on, Chapman had a crack with a stinging drive, whilst Mal Benning made the keeper work from a 25-yard free kick.
In the 89th minute, Anthony Stokes, Rovers' chief tormentor, struck a shot which rattled the bar with the aid of a deflection.
Scott Shearer did well to get down quickly to a Liam Feeney effort in added on time to keep the deficit in tact.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Collins, Howkins, Benning, Chapman, Clements (Hakeem 75), Baxendale (D. Rose 69), M. Rose, Hemmings, Hamilton (Green 69)
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Taft, McGuire, Hurst
ROVERS: Steele, Greer, Lowe, Byrne, Stokes, Marshall, Graham (Mahoney 80), Hendrie (Henley 73), Duffy, Lenihan, Conway (Feeney 68)
UNUSED SUBS: Raya, Akpan, Guthrie, Wharton
ATTENDANCE: 2,885 (566)
SPONSORS' MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Howkins