Kelland Watts’ first Mansfield Town goal proved not enough as Mansfield Town suffered a 2-1 defeat against Leyton Orient on Tuesday evening.
Amidst an energetic first period in east London, the hosts were the first to mark the scoresheet courtesy of James Dayton’s near-post effort.
Mansfield then responded with exactly an hour on the clock – Watts turning home from a set-piece – but Orient would wrap up the victory as Lee Angol forced Mal Benning into an unfortunate own goal.
Graham Coughlan opted to make only one change for his side’s second consecutive away trip as CJ Hamilton replaced Harry Charsley.
And under the floodlights in the capital, Mansfield were left to rue the offside flag inside the opening moments.
Ryan Sweeney had made up ground from his defensive line in order to clip one neatly into the path of Nicky Maynard, yet after finding the far corner in clinical fashion, the striker was met with a tight offside call.
The hosts, however, were the side who should have taken the lead minutes later.
From Angol’s free-kick, possession fell kindly towards Dan Happe as he proceeded to smack the base of the post before seeing teammate Conor Wilkinson scoop over with little time to react to the rebound.
Angol himself then blazed over from a tight angle as he sought to catch his former side unaware.
The Sky Bet League Two contest continued to ebb and flow – highlighted when Sweeney met Benning’s cross to nod over, albeit under substantial pressure.
Skipper Josh Coulson then made two risky passes that were snuffed out by the amber and blue but the O’s were in position to recover.
A rapid counter, started by Maynard, soon had Hamilton scampering forward. The latter returned the ball back to the Stags’ No. 11 only to be thwarted by Lawrence Vigouroux to his left-hand side.
And on the stroke half-time Orient found an opener.
Patient build-up play amidst a crowded penalty area eventually saw the ball worked wide to Dayton, who drove forwards and snuck his attempt between Olejnik and the upright.
It proved to be the last notable action of the first half as the Stags entered the changing rooms to regroup.
Into the second period and Mansfield were looking to wipe away the one-goal deficit facing them.
Maynard held up possession expertly but was unable to feed a teammate before finding himself amongst a swarm of red shirts.
Wilkinson then dropped to the deck asking for a penalty that would never arrive before the Stags made their latest set-piece count.
On the hour mark, Coughlan’s side were awarded a far-side corner and Watts duly met Benning’s pinpoint delivery to power beyond Vigouroux and restore parity to the delight of the 181 travelling faithful.
The Stags initially made Orient pay for a lapse in concentration and looked to do so again. Hamilton charged into a pocket of space, yet was unable to divert his effort between two defenders.
However, the leveller lasted all of 14 minutes when the hosts struck for a second time.
Ross Embleton’s men had their opposition penned back under significant pressure, which told as Benning inadvertently turned over the goal line after pressure from Angol.
Substitute James Clarke’s deft touch set himself to strike but his curler fell beyond the target.
The Stags were faced with four minutes additional time to notch another equaliser – and were agonisingly close to finding the target as Hamilton dragged wide from inside the area, in the last of the action in east London.
Mansfield return to action this Saturday when Newport County AFC are the visitors to One Call Stadium.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Benning (Charsley 88’), Pearce ©, Bishop, Maynard, Watts, Tomlinson, Sweeney, Riley (Clarke 46’), Hamilton, Rose.
UNUSED SUBS: Stone (GK), Preston, Davies, Evans, Knowles.
ORIENT XI: Vigouroux (GK), Coulson ©, Clay, Wilkinson, Dayton (Wright 66’), Happe, Brophy, Angol, Marsh, Cisse, Johnson (Maguire-Drew 70’).
UNUSED SUBS: Sargeant (GK), Widdowson, Judd, Kyprianou, Sweeney.
REFEREE: Josh Smith
ASSISTANTS: Gregory Read & Paul Kelly
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Kevin Howick
ATTENDANCE: 3,587 (181 away)