Mansfield Town produced a spirited display with plenty of chances but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sky Bet Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
A Matt Preston own goal alongside John Buckley’s strike gave the away side a two-goal cushion that was immediately halved when Krystian Pearce struck in the 53rd minute.
However, despite the Stags creating numerous opportunities to draw level, Adam Armstrong’s finish five minutes from time put the result beyond doubt.
The teamsheet signalled a majority of senior figures for John Dempster’s side, while the likes of James Clarke, Lewis Gibbens and Alistair Smith featured once again from the U21 setup.
There was little to split both sides during the opening stages but it soon sparked into life as the clock reached double figures.
In the tenth minute, Blackburn were awarded a free-kick and took the invitation to work their training ground routine in effective circumstances.
A low, driven cross made its way to the far post where Preston, unable to do any less, inadvertently turned the ball over the goal line.
Rovers were soon at the hosts’ throats yet again when they broke from a counter – Dan Butterworth being thwarted by a fine Conrad Logan save.
The Stags wanted a quick response, though, and Jacob Mellis could have provided just that when his half volley arrowed off target.
Alex MacDonald then found himself on the end of a neat passing move; however, his thunderous strike was well blocked by Joe Rankin-Costello.
Tony Mowbray’s men continually threatened via eye of the needle passes, yet they were also thwarted on several occasions by Logan in the first period.
Heading towards the half-time whistle, Trialist A’s first touch allowed him room for a strike – one that was miscued and spun away from Andy Fisher’s target.
It meant the Sky Bet Championship side took a narrow one-goal cushion heading into the second period.
And they doubled their aforementioned advantage only six minutes after the restart.
Buckley charged down Pearce, who was unaware of his presence, to retrieve possession a dangerous area and slot into the bottom right corner.
The Mansfield skipper, determined to make amends, atoned for his mistake just a minute later.
He swivelled on the spot and lashed a powerful strike beyond the reach of Fisher to halve the deficit in front of the travelling supporters in the North Stand.
And the Stags’ no.5 nodded over the bar from a corner only minutes later, missing the chance to earn his brace and draw level in the same moment.
Chances aplenty started to fall the hosts’ way when first Otis Khan and then Danny Rose were denied by Fisher at full stretch.
Hayden White – making his second appearance in a Stags shirt since January – began to charge down the right flank but was unable to deliver an accurate final ball.
Mansfield were soon awarded a set-piece in dangerous territory and despite beating Fisher this time, the midfielder instead found the upright.
Just as it seemed Mansfield were edging closer to an equaliser, Pearce forcing yet another save from Fisher, the visitors struck a third time.
Substitute Armstrong found space behind the Stags’ defence with a clever run, which was finished off as he tucked the ball beyond Aidan Stone.
Mansfield will face Sky Bet Championship opposition once again this Saturday as they take on Hull City at One Call Stadium.
STAGS FIRST-HALF XI: Logan (GK), Preston, Pearce ©, Sweeney, Trialist A, MacDonald, Bishop, Hamilton, Mellis, Maynard, Cook.
STAGS SECOND-HALF XI: Logan (GK) (Stone 78’), Preston (Smith 78’), Pearce ©, Sweeney (Gibbens 78’), White, Tomlinson (Sterling-James 76’), Benning, Trialist B, Trialist C, Khan, Rose.
BLACKBURN XI: Fisher (GK), Rankin-Costello, Hart, Smallwood © (Downing 64’), Rothwell (Armstrong 64’), Travis, Butterworth, Grayson, Buckley, Brereton, Magloire.
REFEREE: John Brooks.
ASSISTANTS: Alix Pashley & Ian Dudley.
ATTENDANCE: 1,701 (247 away).