Jimmy Knowles’ first strike for Mansfield Town helped his side to a point as they eventually fell to a narrow 4-3 defeat on penalties against Crewe Alexandra at One Call Stadium.
Knowles marked his second start this season in amber and blue with a smart finish from the edge of the area, before Oli Finney drew level on the stroke of half time.
A second half of few chances led to penalties in Nottinghamshire – with the visitors leaving Nottinghamshire with an extra point.
John Dempster adopted wholesale changes to his starting line-up as his side looked to pick up their first win in the Leasing.com Trophy.
There were starts for Knowles and James Clarke while Bobby Olejnik made his first appearance in almost a year, returning from an ACL injury sustained in December 2018.
And the returning shot-stopper had work to do inside the first five minutes as he gathered Finney’s effort from the edge of the area.
Down the opposite end, Clarke had the Stags’ first attempt on goal but was unable to find a way past Dave Richards.
However, on 18 minutes, Alexandra’s ‘keeper could do nothing when Knowles found a pocket of space.
The youngster had time to turn and fire a powerful strike that left Richards grasping at thin air.
An expertly-timed sliding challenge from the evening’s skipper, Matt Preston, then denied the visitors a chance at an equaliser as they lurked forward at every opportunity.
Knowles continued to find himself in promising positions, yet this time was unable to divert his next effort beyond his marker.
Dapo Afolayan freed up Clarke down the right channel but the subsequent cross had too much weight applied.
Similarly, Paul Green’s delivery from the opposing side was underwhelming as Olejnik was able to claim with relative ease.
And on the stroke of half time the away side restored parity in confusing fashion.
Finney seemed to have his cross deflected into the side netting but somehow the ball had snuck inside the near post to ensure his side were level at the break.
Into the second period and Mansfield attempted to fashion a chance through Hamilton – and almost did so had it not been for smart defending by Perry Ng.
Soon after, Alistair Smith’s delightful pass made its way to Knowles with the youngster unable to control the ball after rounding Richards with ease.
Substitute Jacob Mellis then fired a free-kick beyond the bar with his side seeking a lead for the second time on Tuesday evening.
Olejnik had to stay alert following a quiet spell in the match – thwarting Owen Dale from close range before seeing the assistant’s flag raised for offside.
Mansfield’s final substitution, in the shape of Otis Khan, had a difficult chance to restore the lead for the Stags as his volley was blocked on its way to goal.
CJ Hamilton had the beating of the last defender in stoppage time, yet was unable to find room for a strike as Johnson recovered in the nick of time.
And with the very last kick of the game, Charlie Kirk sent a bending effort wide of Olejnik’s upright.
This signalled a penalty shootout to decide who would leave One Call Stadium with a bonus point.
Hamilton, Afolayan and Benning were on target for the Stags who unfortunately missed out on an extra point after falling to a 4-3 defeat.
Next up for Mansfield is another home fixture, this time in Sky Bet League Two as they welcome Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Preston ©, Shaughnessy, Tomlinson (Mellis 52’ (Benning 71’)), Sweeney, Afolayan, Cook, Clarke, Hamilton, Knowles (Khan 83’), Smith.
UNUSED SUBS: Stone (GK), Maynard, Gordon, Sketchley.
CREWE XI: Richards (GK), Ng ©, Wintle, Nolan, Ainley, Green (Jones 77’), Finney, Anene, Dale (Kirk 83’), Johnson, Adebisi (Pickering 83’).
UNUSED SUBS: Booth (GK), Porter, Hunt, Lundstram.
REFEREE: James Oldham
ASSISTANTS: George Byrne & Gareth Mellor
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Paul Hobday
ATTENDANCE: 800 (39 away)