Mansfield Town slipped to a 2-0 defeat away to Colchester United this afternoon as they missed the chance to move into the Sky Bet League Two top seven.
Stags were the better of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, but found themselves 2-0 down following two goals in the space of five minutes for the hosts.
Midfielder Sean Murray fired Colchester ahead after a cleverly worked first half set-piece when winger Kyel Reid teed up Murray 20 yards from goal allowing him to fire low past Stags' 'keeper Conrad Logan into the bottom left corner.
Murray turned provider five minutes later as he floated a cross to the far post where striker Mikael Mandron rose highest to nod home, doubling the hosts' advantage.
Mansfield had the better of the first half chances, the best of them falling to Atkinson whose powerful header went narrowly wide.
Stags' boss Steve Evans made one change from the side that enjoyed Derby Day success last weekend with Omari Sterling-James replacing the injured Alfie Potter. Colchester were unchanged from their last league outing, a 1-0 win against Yeovil Town.
Colchester started the livelier as wideman Kane Vincent-Young's dangerous low cross was blocked and cleared before Mikael Mandron found himself with time and space in the Mansfield penalty area but he couldn't keep his effort down.
The Stags were limited to counter attacks in the early stages with striker Kane Hemmings able to race forward but unable to pick out a pass to the in-form Danny Rose – the chance ultimately wasted.
Minutes later, Hemmings was able to find Omari Sterling-James with the perfect pass but his effort from 18 yards was deflected and never troubled United goalkeeper Sam Walker.
Colchester almost found the opener through forward Brandon Hanlan who controlled a long ball before shooting wide of the left post.
Midfielder Will Atkinson and left-back Johnny Hunt almost combined to give Mansfield an early lead as Hunt whipped in a dangerous cross and Walker could only watch as Atkinson headed narrowly wide.
Winger Alex MacDonald then found himself unchallenged in space on the edge of the area but his low effort was comfortably saved.
After 17 minutes, Kane Vincent-Young's sloppy pass was easily intercepted by MacDonald who, after a one-two with Rose, was able to set-up Atkinson but the midfielder blasted his shot well over the bar.
Rose, keen to add to his impressive six goal haul this season, brought a good save from Walker after making a great connection with a half-volley on the edge of the box.
Sterling-James, who was trying his best to make things happen on the left, was able to run into the box as the Stags dominated possession but his cross was too powerful and floated out for a goal kick.
The impressive Brandon Hanlon almost broke the deadlock for Colchester when Ryan Jackson's cross landed at the striker's feet, but Logan did well to deflect the ball wide as the hosts forced a corner.
It was a free-kick which handed the U's the lead just before the half hour mark. Sterling-James brought down Sean Murray with a clip of the ankles and with everyone expecting a shot, Kyel Reid played a short pass to Murray who struck the ball low through a packed penalty area into the bottom left corner.
Mansfield tried to find an instant response but Rose saw his weak header saved before MacDonald's long rage strike never worried the Colchester defence.
Stags were then hit with a suckerpunch after 34 minutes when the hosts doubled their advantage. Murray was this time the provider as his cross to the far post saw Mikael Mandron rise highest to head home.
The Stags had to settle for limited chances towards the end of the first half with Sterling-James wrestled off the ball as it rolled out for a goal-kick.
The Stags' gaffer made one change at half-time with defender Rhys Bennett replacing Sterling-James, with Paul Anderson moving to a right wing position from right-back.
The second period started similar to the first with Colchester limiting Mansfield's time on the ball. Reid was able to play through Hanlan, who found space as United looked to move even further ahead, but Bennett was able to block his effort and clear.
Seven minutes after the restart, Stags should have had the chance to level. Winger Alex MacDonald went on a superb run and drove into the box before being brought down eight yards from goal. Referee John Busby waved away MacDonald's claim, much to the frustration of the Stags.
The Stags continued to press and just minutes later, MacDonald was unchallenged and able to cross towards Rose who saw his glancing header narrowly miss the top corner.
MacDonald was the visitors' most dangerous player and continued to create chances; however his heavy cross was too powerful to pick out any Mansfield forwards.
He then forced a strong save from Walker, and won a corner, after cutting inside on the edge of the area after Stags had come forward on the counter-attack.
Striker Lee Angol and midfielder Jacob Mellis were then introduced after 64 minutes, with Kane Hemmings and Paul Anderson making way.
Atkinson was then shown a yellow card for his late challenge on Brandon Comley. The resulting free-kick was floated towards Mandron who was unable to make clean contact with the ball.
Mandron was clearly Colchester's target man as Murray looked to pick out the Frenchman but his cross was just too high.
With 14 minutes left, Logan had to be alert to deny Murray, whose low drilled effort was well stopped by the legs of the Stags' 'keeper.
Mansfield looked to find a way back into the game but Angol – six yards in front of goal - couldn't make any connection with Hunt's whipped cross from the left.
With five minutes of the match remaining, Mansfield were awarded a free-kick following a push on Rose. It was easily cleared and Colchester rushed forward on the counter-attack, but as they looked to put the game out of reach, Murray couldn't get clean contact on his shot and fired well wide.
As the game came to a close, Angol was gifted a glorious chance and broke through on goal, but after slowing the play down, had a low shot easily saved by Angol.
COLCHESTER XI: Walker, Jackson, Kent, Wright, Loft, Murray, Reid (Comley 55), Mandron, Hanlan (Kabamba 81), Vincent-Young (Eastman 20), Inniss
SUBS NOT USED: Gilmartin, Kabamba, Eastman, Slater, Odelusi, Guthrie
STAGS' XI: Logan, Anderson (Mellis 64), Pearce ©, Mirfin, Hunt, Butcher, Atkinson, Sterling-James (Bennett 46), MacDonald, Hemmings (Angol 64), Rose
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Digby, Hamilton, Spencer
ATTENDANCE: 3,262 (339 away)
REFEREE: John Busby