Despite opening the scoring through Oli Hawkins' well-guided header, the Stags were narrowly beaten 2-1 away at Exeter City on Saturday afternoon.
Mansfield’s towering forward had headed the Stags in front in the 50th minute before Timothee Dieng equalised for the Grecians 11 minutes later.
Intense late pressure from the hosts lead to Matt Jay’s 83rd minute winner for the side that came into the fixture 13 games unbeaten.
Manager Nigel Clough made two changes to the side that earned a point against Port Vale on Tuesday night.
Right-back Elliott Hewitt was replaced in the line-up by James Clarke having suffered a glute strain in the 1-1 draw at One Call Stadium.
Mansfield's second change came at left-back with youngster Ryan Burke replacing the experienced Stephen McLaughlin, who had carried a knock against Vale.
Having signed earlier in the day, experienced midfielder John-Joe O’Toole took his place on the Stags' bench.
High-scoring Grecian duo Sam Nombe and Matt Jay started for the hosts.
Ollie Clarke threw himself in the way of Kyle Taylor’s long-range attempt to halt the hosts' bright start inside two minutes.
That was before Mansfield found space to counter-attack on ten minutes but James Clarke’s delivery missed the arriving Jordan Bowery by an inch at the back post.
Neither side were able to take control of play in the following 20 minutes, with the majority of possession remaining in midfield and warranting few clear-cut chances.
Centre-back Farrend Rawson’s important block inside his own box allowed a turnover of possession in Mansfield’s favour on 31 minutes. Rhys Oates latched onto the loose ball to advance up the left wing and find Harry Charsley, whose first-time edge-of-the-box effort was scuffed and collected by Cameron Dawson.
Three minutes later Matt Jay curled an effort towards the bottom right corner but Bishop handled the ball well to ensure he didn’t spill it to the lurking Nombe a yard away.
With the game beginning to open up, Mansfield again advanced up field quickly following Jay’s squandered chance. This time Charsley’s cross to Bowery at the far post was connected with, but the striker’s effort was turned narrowly wide inside the 36th minute.
Exeter began the second period in flowing fashion as Matt Jay’s cut inside to shoot was tipped around the post impressively by Bishop in the 47th minute.
Mansfield reacted well to the Grecian threat by opening the scoring on 50 minutes. Charsley’s looped set-piece found Hawkins who towered over his marker to power the ball into the left side of the goal with his head. The striker’s guided header was his fourth Sky Bet League Two goal of the 2021/22 season.
Oates’ interception on the hour allowed Mansfield to break forward. The attacker laid the ball off to Bowery inside the box before Alex Hartridge swept up the danger at the crucial moment for the hosts.
Hartridge’s defensive play proved important moments later as the hosts struck an equaliser in the 61st minute. Substitute Padraig Amond’s cut-back cross was nodded in by Timothee Dieng who was unmarked on the Mansfield goal-line.
Momentum swung Exeter’s way following the goal but Mansfield still found holes to exploit and forge counter-attacking opportunities. Ollie Clarke’s forward ball on 72 minutes was well collected by Oates who arrived inside the box to shoot narrowly wide from a tight angle in a good attacking move.
With the crowd behind them, Exeter took the lead in the 83rd minute. Good play from Archie Collins found Jay at the far post who headed home his eighth goal of the season.
Nigel Clough introduced Danny Johnson with five minutes remaining in the hopes of reigniting Mansfield’s attacking spark.
Nombe beat Mansfield’s offside trap to stride past Bishop before the young stopper recovered well to make a goal-saving sliding tackle in the 93rd minute.
Exeter saw out a slender victory as the Stags were left disappointed following a well-organised display against one of the division’s in-form sides.
Next up for Mansfield is a home game against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday 30 October.
MANSFIELD XI: Bishop, J. Clarke, Rawson, Hawkins, Burke, O. Clarke, Charsley, Quinn, Lapslie (Johnson 85’), Oates (Sinclair 87’), Bowery (Maris 63’)
UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Forrester, Law, O'Toole
EXETER CITY XI: Dawson, Key, Sweeney, Hartridge, Daniel, Taylor (Amond 59’), Dieng, Collins, Edwards-Owura (J. Brown 65’), Jay (Ray 90+1’), Nombe
UNUSED SUBS: S. Brown, Caprice, Atangana, , Coley
REFEREE: Sam Purkiss
ATTENDANCE: 4,329 (191 away).