Battling Mansfield Town bowed out of the Carabao Cup following a 2-1 loss against League One Derby in an action-packed tie at One Call Stadium.
Stags’ starting line-up saw five changes to the 11 fielded against Tranmere at the weekend.
Boss Nigel Clough, staying true to his pre-match comments, opted to go with a strong side to face the Rams.
Lucas Akins was replaced by Jordan Bowery prior to kick off after picking up an injury in the warm-up.
The home side held their own against the Rams for a large portion of the first half. However, a goal from Lewis Dobbin on the half hour mark saw the visitors in front at the break.
A strong second half display from Mansfield was not rewarded, as Derby showed their quality to make the most of the few chances presented to them and a goal from Tom Barkhuizen was enough to ensure his team were in the draw for the second round of the competition.
Stags started positively, piling the pressure on Derby from the kick-off. The away side spent the majority of the first five minutes camped in their own half, but unfortunately Stags couldn’t create any clear-cut chances.
Continuing to probe, Mansfield produced the first attempt of the half.
In the seventh minute, a delightful turn of pace from Kellan Gordon saw him break away from Craig Forsyth and deliver an inviting cross into the Derby penalty area.
Mansfield could have been 1-0 up with both Will Swan and Jordon Bowery queuing to meet the ball, but Joe Wildsmith showed good anticipation to gather.
Stags’ forward Will Swan unleashed a speculative 25-yard effort in the eighth minute which flew over the bar.
The first attack for Derby County resulted in a free kick just outside the Stags’ box with 11 minutes played. After a misjudgement from Oli Hawkins, Elliott Hewitt was booked for a necessary foul on Lewis Dobbin to prevent the Rams’ striker from being one-on-one with Christie Pym in the Mansfield goal.
The League One side began to grow into the game. In the 17th minute Louie Sibley toyed with both Oli Hawkins and Hewitt in the Mansfield penalty area. The Derby playmaker saw his low effort saved by Pym, however, the save wasn’t parried away and resulted in a goalmouth scramble. Hawkins, playing in the heart of Stags’ defence, managed to eventually hook the ball to safety.
Stags showcased their attacking threat when a fierce shot from George Lapslie cannoned off the crossbar. This stunning attempt capped off a dangerous move and an intelligent pull back from Stephan McLaughlin.
As the half went on both sides started to relax into the tie after a frantic first quarter of an hour.
Then Derby found the breakthrough in the 30th minute.
A well-timed ball across the area from Craig Forsyth was met by Lewis Dobbin and the attacker, who had looked dangerous early on, was quick to react, as he poked the ball toward goal. A possible slight deflection off a Elliott Hewitt wrong footed Pym and resulted in the ball rolling tamely over the line.
The last chance of the first half saw Will Swan dance superbly through the Derby defence, but due to the Stags’ man losing his balance as he struck the ball, the effort was a tame one which Derby goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith was able to catch.
Young striker Swan appeared to have got Mansfield off to the perfect start in the second half when he put the ball in the back of the net in the 46th minute. Before the 21-year-old could celebrate his first goal for the Stags the offside flag went up to the dismay of the home supporters.
Mansfield looked to capitalised on a sluggish start from Derby in the second period.
Stags threatened when Oli Hawkins, who had moved from defence to attack, was able to head the ball across goal and onto the bar. The rebound landed at the feet of the McLaughlin, however, the Irishman dragged his effort wide.
Stags managed to keep possession well, stringing a large amount of passes together, as they continued to keep the ball away their League One opponents.
The pressure paid off for Mansfield in the 56th minute as Hawkins found himself unmarked in the penalty box and an instinctive first touch with his chest set him up perfectly to rifle the ball past Wildsmith.
The Stags continued to press relentlessly up the top of the pitch. This, however, was their undoing in the 70th minute when their high pressure had left space for the fresh legs of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to exploit. The wide man’s deep cross from the right was met by Tom Barkhuizen who was able to head the ball over the line as the substitutes combined to fire Derby ahead.
In the 81st minute, Jordan Bowery saw red for a foul on James Collins just outside the penalty area after being deemed as the last man. The resulting free kick was a low driven effort that Christy Pym was equal to as he dived down to his left to push the ball behind.
A lively final five minutes at One Call Stadium saw Mansfield have the ball cleared off the line, before Derby flew away down the right on the counter attack. The back-tracking George Maris slid in to deflect the effort from Collins to keep his side in the game.
The action continued right until the final whistle with a promising Stags’ free kick being the last opportunity of the game though it came to nothing an despite a valiant effort Stags bowed out of the competition.
STAGS’ XI: Pym, Gordon, O’Toole, Hawkins (Oates 73’), Elliott, Mclaughlin © (Gale 87’), Hartigan (Clarke 46’), Lapslie, Quinn (Maris 46’), Bowery (Sent off 81’), Swan
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Harbottle, Boateng
DERBY XI: Wildsmith, Forsyth ©, Cashin, Smith, Thompson, Sibley (Barkhuizen 63’), Dobbin (Collins 73’), Stearman, Oduroh, Rooney (Mendez-Laing 63’), Knight (Hourihane 87’)
UNUSED SUBS: Loach, Bird, Roberts, Robinson, Aghatise
REFEREE: Andrew Kitchen
ATTENDANCE: 6,861 (1,662 away)