Stags’ under-18s suffered a 2-1 loss to Bradford City in a tale of two halves at the RH Academy in Saturday’s Youth Alliance League match.
A poor first half display saw Mansfield go in at the break two down, after midfielder Eliot Goldthorp scored from the spot and captain Jeremie Milambo added a second to their lead.
An improved second-half showing saw the Stags clinch one back through defender Noah Stokes, however despite a better performance in the last 45, Mansfield could not find an equaliser.
Bradford started off the better side, and inside the first couple of minutes had their first chance when striker Connor Morris placed a decent ball into the box, however he could not get decent enough contact to trouble Stags' 'keeper Keaton Marrs.
On minute five, the Bantams had another chance, after the ball fell to forward Connor Shanks on the edge of the area, yet he could not keep his shot down and it was safely over the bar for Mansfield.
Bradford had yet another chance a minute later, when Kielen Adams forced a brilliant save out of Marrs with his left-footed effort from just inside the area.
Mansfield had their first effort on the ten minute mark through forward Rio Molyneaux, after he went on a brilliant run down the left side, skipping past the visitors' defence, before forcing Bradford ‘keeper Alfie Darke into a decent save at his near post to keep the scores level.
The Bantams took the lead on minute 17 after they were awarded a penalty following a scramble in the box, resulting in a Bradford player going down, with Goldthorp taking and sending Marrs the wrong way from the spot.
Shanks had another chance for the away side after some great build up play found the forward on the edge of the area, yet his left-footed effort flew over the bar and out for a Stags' goal kick.
On the 40 minute mark, Bradford doubled their lead after a long ball found its way over the Mansfield defence and to Milambo, who did well to place the ball past Marrs and make it 2-0.
The second-half started brighter for Mansfield, and Molyneaux did well to beat his defender again and get his shot off, forcing a decent save out of Darke who parried it out for a Stags' corner.
From the resulting set piece, defender Stokes connected well with captain James Tague’s ball in, with his header hitting the post before being scrambled away for another Mansfield corner.
The Stags grabbed a goal back in the 66th minute through Stokes after the defender won his header once again off a corner, flicking it past Darke and giving the hosts hope.
Mansfield continued to pressurise the Bantams' goal, and came close moments later after a dangerous ball into the area flew across the goalmouth, with no Stags' players able to get the important touch to equalise.
Once again the home side threatened with their set pieces, with another delivery being won by Stokes, however this time the defender could not get a decent contact on the ball and it bounced behind for a Bradford goal kick.
Bradford had a chance to increase their lead from a free-kick on minute 81 after Finn Cousin-Dawson looked to strike from around 25 yards out, yet his effort flew past the post.
Mansfield continued to win corners, and another superb delivery from Tague troubled the Bradford defence, however no player could get significant contact and the ball was cleared to safety.
On minute 88, Molyneaux came close with a brilliant effort from range, seeing his effort dip just over the bar the visitors relief.
In the dying moments of the game, Mansfield had a golden chance to equalise after a cross fell to Tague’s feet, yet the skipper could not convert, hitting his effort just over the woodwork.
STAGS' XI: Marrs, Tomlin, Sketchley, Cornell (Darby 45’), Armsden, Stokes, Lathall (King 33’), Saunders, Molyneaux, Tague, Cashmore
UNUSED SUBS: Boyle, Fisher, Davis
BRADFORD XI: Darke, Smethurst, Milambo, Maltby, Staunton, Cousin-Dawson, Francis (Alli 53’), Goldthorp, Adams, Shanks, Morris (Scales 55’)
UNUSED SUBS: Wood, Roberts