Winger Jordan Slew and midfielder David Fox netted for Argyle, while Mansfield’s solitary goal came through winger Ashley Hemmings.
The Stags will consider themselves unlucky to lose the game, especially having called Plymouth’s goalkeeper Luke McCormick in to action several times during the 90 minutes, as well as hitting the post.
The clash at One Call Stadium began on a sombre note with a period of silence and a performance of the Last Post as part of the Remembrance Sunday commemorations, hailing the role played by the country’s servicemen and women.
The Stags made five changes in personnel from the Stevenage game last time out. In goal, Scott Shearer made way for 41-year-old Brian Jensen, while the midfield duo of James Baxendale and Mitchell Rose replaced Kyle Howkins and Kevan Hurst, whilst central midfielder Jamie McGuire took a place in the starting XI in place of striker Pat Hoban. Wideman Hemmings came in for Alex Iacovitti as the fifth new face in the side.
For the Pilgrims, manager Derek Adams fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation with an unchanged side from their 2-1 Sky Bet League Two victory over Colchester United prior to today’s match.
As the chilly November wind came blowing in to One Call Stadium, Argyle had to sit tight while dealing with Mansfield’s sleek passing in the midfield early on.
Adam Murray’s men took the initiative and forced a corner on three minutes, but midfielder Chris Clements’ delivery from the left was cleared away for a throw-in at the other end.
Baxendale then almost carved out the perfect start for the Stags as he played an inch-perfect through ball for striker Matt Green, who was unlucky not to find the net as Plymouth shot-stopper Luke McCormick held cleanly from close range on seven minutes.
But the tide turned unexpectedly as Jordan Slew handed Plymouth the lead via a counter-attack on 14 minutes. The 24-year-old forward ran the full length of the pitch from deep inside his own half to find a way past Jensen at the far post.
The Stags did not let their heads drop after conceding against the run of play, and continued to probe for an equaliser.
Bennett’s cross on 21 minutes was deflected for a corner down the right, and a short flag-kick routine saw Clements’ venomously swinging effort – aided by the wind – miss the far corner by whiskers.
Left-back Malvind Benning then tried his luck from 25-yards with the outside of his favoured left foot near the half-hour mark, but it dropped just wide. The 23-year-old was at it again soon from a dead ball situation outside the box, but he hit it straight at McCormick.
On 32 minutes, some intricate passing from the Stags sliced open the Pilgrims’ rearguard, and Baxendale was denied agonisingly by the fingertips of McCormick from a sumptuous right-footed curler.
With the half-time whistle fast approaching, Hemmings saw the Stags’ best chance of the first half pawed away by McCormick, who dived low to his left inside the six-yard box to keep Plymouth’s slender lead intact.
Moments later, the Mansfield wideman again found space at the edge of the area, but his slicing attempt flew just high of the crossbar.
Despite seeing much of the action in the middle of the park and drawing four saves out of the opposition custodian, Mansfield went into the break trailing 1-0.
The home side continued to display a signal of intent after the change of ends, maintaining an upper hand in possession. Seven minutes into the second half, Hemmings was teed up by right-back Rhys Bennett’s cushioned header from Benning’s free-kick, but the Stags' winger skied the ball on the spin from inside the box.
Adam Murray’s men finally found a deserved way back through none other than Hemmings, whose thumping strike from an acute angle sent the ball into the top corner of the net on 58 minutes, and the player himself wheeled away to celebrate with some immaculate somersaults near the left touchline.
The Stags had the upper hand in the contest and Hemmings came knocking on the door again on 64 minutes – this time rifling a low drive against the far upright via McCormick's fingertips.
At the back for Mansfield, centre-back pairing of Lee Collins and Krystian Pearce admirably kept things compact, which forced the Pilgrims to resort to shooting from distance to find inspiration on the score sheet.
Even though Derek Adams’ men managed to win several corners midway through the second half, the Stags' defence mopped up the danger with ease.
But the Stags were soon left chasing the game once more, when Plymouth’s defensive midfielder Fox scored the side’s second goal on 80 minutes. Having picked a pocket of space on the edge of Mansfield’s 18-yard area, he thumped a shot past Jensen.
Stags were incensed as they believed they should have had a free-kick for a clear handball in the middle of the pitch in the build-up to the goal, but the referee waved away their protestations.
The hosts then staged a final push to salvage some reward for their hard work all afternoon by bringing on forwards Darius Henderson and Danny Rose, but they were unable to overturn the deficit, which ended in a 2-1 disappointment.
Stags XI: Jensen, Bennett, Benning, Collins (D. Rose, 87’), Pearce, Clements, Green, Baxendale (Henderson, 81’), M. Rose (Thomas, 73’), Hemmings, McGuire
Subs not used: Shearer, Hamilton, Hurst, Hoban
Plymouth XI: McCormick, Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington, Songo’o, Fox, Tanner (Donaldson, 61’), Carey, Slew (Ijaha, 82’), Spencer
Subs not used: Goodwillie, Jervis, Osborne, Dorel
Attendance: 2,318 (439 away)