A mixed Mansfield Town lineup secured a point following a 1-1 draw against Everton U21s, yet fell to a penalty shootout defeat in their opening Leasing.com Trophy fixture.
Under the floodlights in Nottinghamshire, Omari Sterling-James cancelled out Anthony Gordon’s fine effort to leave a penalty shootout to decipher who would gain an extra point following a 1-1 draw.
However, the Stags were undone by a set of fine spot-kicks from the Merseyside outfit, which ensured they travelled home with two points.
John Dempster opted for a mix of youth and experience for his side first Leasing.com Trophy outing of the 2019/20 season.
The likes of Mal Benning, who captained the side, and Matt Preston at the back were coupled with Jimmy Knowles and Jason Law further up the pitch.
It was the visitors who boasted the first meaningful opportunity of the evening when Gordon, slipped in down the right side, was thwarted by the feet of Aidan Stone.
However, the Stags had soon gained some momentum and were looking to break the deadlock through Sterling-James.
The winger had rippled the side netting with a long-distance effort before striking the upright from a set-piece.
The Toffees’ youngsters still posed a threat and it proved as such in the 28th minute.
With superb solo work from the centre of the field, Gordon made space to fire a curling effort into the far corner.
Mansfield had their sights set on an equaliser and twice came close before the half-time interval.
Jacob Mellis assumed responsibility of the Stags’ latest dead ball situation, only to watch his shot rise over the bar.
This preceded an almost sublime piece of skill from Sterling-James, who was unlucky not to have turned home CJ Hamilton’s cross after a deft flick at the near post was saved by Harry Tyrer.
It meant Dempster’s side trailed narrowly as they entered the tunnel at the interval.
And just two minutes after the restart, the hosts came agonisingly close to restoring parity once more.
Sterling-James, amidst the action yet again, was unable to fumble the ball across the line from close-range.
Matt Preston was then left in disbelief as his powerful volley from Benning’s corner whistled the wrong side of Tyrer’s upright.
After a quiet spell in the second period, the visiting side were dealt a blow as Baningime’s lunging challenge meant referee Ben Toner had little choice in brandishing a second yellow card to the Everton youngster.
Alistair Smith also though he had wiped away the arrears with a drive from the edge of the Toffees’ box – however, the attempt was palmed away to safety.
And Mansfield’s continual pressure finally told in the 87th minute.
Sterling-James, causing problems once more, wriggled away from several bodies before drilling a low shot beyond the reach of the Everton’s shot-stopper to level the scores.
There were seven additional minutes at One Call Stadium but the home side were not able to capitalise on their dominance.
This left a penalty shootout to decide who would emerge with an additional point from their night’s work.
And after Otis Khan and Sterling-James were unable to find the back of the net, it meant Dempster’s men would have to settle for just a single point.
Sky Bet League Two action is on the horizon for Mansfield as they travel to St James Park to face Exeter City on Saturday afternoon.
STAGS' XI: Stone (GK), Benning ©, Preston, Mellis, Clarke, Hamilton, Sterling-James, Law (Khan 46’), Gibbens, Knowles (MacDonald 46’), Smith (Sinclair 90’).
UNUSED SUBS: Logan (GK), Sweeney, Fielding, Chisholm
EVERTON U21 XI: Tyrer (GK), Charsley, Baningime, Adeniran (Simms 68’, Mampala 88’), Feeney ©, Foulds, Evans, Gordon, Denny (Astley 86’), Markelo, John.
UNUSED SUBS: McIntyre (GK), Anderson, Iversen, Carroll.
REFEREE: Ben Toner
ASSISTANTS: Lisa Rashid & Stephen Wade
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Steven Rushton
ATTENDANCE: 824 (55 away)