Mansfield Town were dealt a narrow 1-0 loss by Notts County as Craig Mackail-Smith’s first-half strike proved to be the difference at Meadow Lane.
In Saturday afternoon’s early kick-off, Mackail-Smith fired the hosts in front on 19 minutes with a pinpoint effort from the edge of the Stags’ area.
Mansfield went in search of, at the very least, an equaliser after the break but it never came to fruition to give the Magpies all three points.
David Flitcroft switched Nicky Ajose and Ryan Sweeney – the latter due to suspension – for Gethin Jones and Ben Turner to both make their full debuts.
Alex MacDonald was also named amongst the Stags’ substitutes after recovering from a five-month lay-off due to a serious knee injury suffered against Cambridge United.
Otherwise, it was business as usual for the 51st Nottinghamshire Derby.
The afternoon at Meadow Lane began, as expected, on frenetic terms as both sides battled for possession from the outset.
Tyler Walker was able to lash a dangerous-looking effort inside the first minute over Ryan Schofield’s crossbar before County replied.
A threaded pass sought after Mackail-Smith but Turner was on-hand to eliminate any danger – receiving a yellow card for his troubles.
The subsequent free-kick was smashed into a wall of amber and blue jerseys by Michael Doyle, allowing Mansfield to clear with ease.
Mal Benning then had a half-volley blocked moments later before Neal Bishop’s following header fell off-target.
But the hosts continued their pressure and in the 19th minute it paid dividends.
Mackail-Smith, who had looked lively from the start, latched onto a loose ball on the edge of Jordan Smith’s area, and he needed no second invitation to strike it into the bottom corner.
Following the game’s opener, full-blooded challenges continued to rear their head as Flitcroft’s side eyed-up a response.
Turner rose highest to meet Jorge Grant’s corner but the debutant was only able to direct it wide of Schofield’s upright.
Enzio Boldewijn was then denied by Matt Preston’s brilliant standing challenge as the County winger took aim from close range.
Both sides’ latest outing in Sky Bet League Two showed no signs of easing in pace as the clock ticked over the half-hour mark.
Virgil Gomis flicked a header goalwards but it proved too close to Smith as the Stags’ shot-stopper claimed with ease.
Following the interval, Flitcroft replaced Turner with Nicky Ajose in order to try and turn the tide at Meadow Lane.
And Ajose was involved immediately as he was allowed to direct a header towards goal.
Mansfield were evidently reinvigorated following the half-time break and Hamilton was next in-line to fire an effort clear of Schofield’s bar.
Jacob Mellis was then replaced by MacDonald as the midfielder made his long-awaited return to the pitch.
County came back through Boldewijn but he could only fire over from a relatively tight angle.
The early kick-off had taken a slow turn as the hosts looked to bring the intensity down a few levels.
Krystian Pearce looked to nod Grant’s free-kick goalwards but he was caught amidst a cluster of bodies – rendering him unable to make a clean connection.
In the dying embers, Preston showed his pace to race back and deny substitute Lewis Alessandra a one-on-one with Smith.
Moments later, Mitch Rose’s teasing cross somehow evaded Kane Hemmings who had made a late run into the box.
And this action signalled the end to proceedings as the Magpies exacted revenge on Mansfield from their defeat earlier on in the season.
Flitcroft’s charges have a week to bounce back when they take on Forest Green Rovers at One Call Stadium next Saturday.
STAGS XI: Smith (GK), Benning (Khan 83’), Preston, Pearce ©, Bishop, Mellis (MacDonald 64’), Walker, Jones, Hamilton, Grant, Turner (Ajose 46’).
SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Atkinson, Tomlinson, Smith.
NOTTS COUNTY XI: Schofield (GK), Barclay, Gomis (Alessandra 83’), Boldewijn, Stubbs, O’Brien, Milsom, Rose, Mackail-Smith, Stead © (Hemmings 83’), Doyle.
SUBS NOT USED: Fitzsimons (GK), Tootle, Bird, Hewitt, Vaughan.
REFEREE: Lee Mason.
ASSISTANTS: Matthew Wilkes & Richard West.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Craig Hicks.
ATTENDANCE: 12,660 (4,283 away).