Mansfield Town were defeated for only the second time this season when they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Rotherham United on Friday afternoon.
The Millers arrived at Clipstone on a six-game unbeaten run and proved to be a stiff test for the young Stags who were looking to bounce back from last weekend's 1-0 reversal at Hartlepool United, which they lost by virtue of a stoppage time goal.
Several of John Dempster's side were struggling with a sickness bug in the camp and their game plan was disrupted further when striker Zayn Hakeem picked up an injury after just four minutes, when he landed awkwardly after challenging Rotherham forward Josh Kayode.
Having limped his way through a couple of minutes it was obvious that he wouldn't be able to play on and, sadly, he limped off just 48 hours before he is meant to be flying out to make his international debut with Antigua and Barbuda under 20s.
The game got back underway and Rotherham’s Matt Wilson battled his way past defender Kane Baldwin but Morgan Ratcliffe, back in action for the first time since missing several games through injury, and right-back Teddy Bloor combined to clear up the threat he posed.
The same duo were involved at the other end a few minutes later when midfielder Cameron Healey flicked on Bloor's right wing cross to Ratcliffe, whose first time shot on the run was blocked in the six-yard box.
Right winger Revarnelle James made inroads deep into Mansfield territory down the right wing, but as he delivered the ball for Kayode, defender Kieran Harrison, relishing the captain's role, won the aerial battle and headed the ball away to safety.
Winger Tom Marriott was back on board after living the dream of being chosen as the Man-of-the-Match in the first team Checkatrade Trophy game away at Port Vale, and he put a decent corner into the Millers’ area from out on the left, which was only cleared as far as Bloor who skipped past two challenges but saw his shot charged down by J.Cee Abraham.
With half-time fast approaching, clear cut chances had been at a premium at both ends thus far, with much of the game developing into a real battle for the midfield.
But Mansfield finally broke the deadlock just four minutes before the break, when Harrison timed his run well to meet another well executed fag kick from Marriott and powered a header past Harry Fiddler to give Stags the lead.
The Stags almost doubled their lead in first half stoppage time when yet another good delivery by Marriott was headed down by Healey to forward Devante Reittie, whose shot was cleared off the line and when the rebound fell to winger Nyle Blake, he crashed a shot against the upright.
Half-time: Stags 1-0 Rotherham United
Rotherham came out after the break like an express train and James tore forward down the flank, but his route to goal was blocked by Blake, back helping his defence, who headed the ball away.
But the visitors were soon back on the attack as Kayode turned a header onto the bar from Tom Maquire's right wing cross.
However, that one was just the dress rehearsal - less than a minute later, James found Kayode with an identical ball and he made no mistake with a free header from eight yards out to level the score.
The Stags almost replicated their opening goal, but this time Harrison nodded Marriott's probing cross just wide of the right-hand upright.
Blake was battling to find a way through to Fiddler's goal, but Rotherham were defending well and it was becoming apparent why they haven't been losing games this season.
James unleashed an angled shot at the Stags’ goal from the left-hand edge of the area which Sam Wilson did well to keep out and he was alert enough to deal with Maquire's attempt at reaching Kayode from the resulting corner.
There were appeals for a Stags’ penalty when Reittie went down under a challenge from Abraham, but the referee Minesh Gupta decreed that the two players had merely tangled while challenging for the ball and waved play on.
Kayode hit a shot on the turn which Wilson could've only have seen for a split second, before he still managed to make a save.
Rotherham were becoming rampant, but when Kayode pushed the ball into the path of James, Wilson saved Mansfield once again as he smothered the ball.
Reittie, Blake and Marriott were still trying to unlock the visitors’ defence, but Abraham had thrown away the key.
Everybody makes mistakes, even match officials of the calibre of Mr Gupta and he missed a blatant push in Marriott's back by James as he nicked the ball and sprinted forward down the right flank, before teeing the ball up for Kayode to place just inside the left post from a free header to turn the game on its head.
Stags looked to get back on level terms and Marriott pushed forward down the left, cut inside and drilled the ball just wide of the right-hand post.
Wilson was tested once again, but got down to his right to deny Kayode his hat-trick.
With the clock ticking down, both sides were guilty of putting in a few overly heavy challenges, which had more to do with battling for space in a heavily congested middle third of the pitch. However, Rotherham had the resolve to hold on to all three points in a very competitive, no holds barred encounter.
The young Stags are still at the top of the table, but Rotherham have well and truly announced their arrival on the scene and are obviously capable of putting together a very serious challenge for the championship themselves.
Full-time: Stags 1-2 Rotherham United
Mansfield Town XI: Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor (Surafel Behailu 80), Morgan Ratcliffe, Cain Smith (Alistair Smith 80), Kane Baldwin, Kieran Harrison (C), Henri Wilder, Cameron Healey, Zayn Hakeem (Devante Reittie 8), Tom Marriott, Nyle Blake
Unused subs: Xavier Sundry (GK), Aiden Walker
Rotherham United XI: Harry Fiddler, Deegan Atherton, Akeem Hinds, Lewis Murr, Adam Saxton, J.Cee Abraham, Revarnelle James, Tom Maguire(Sam Martin 71), Josh Kayode, Reece McGinley, Matt Wilson (Akeel Francis 55)
Unused subs: George McMahon, Carlton Mitchell, Matt Coleman