Rhys Oates claimed his tenth goal in all competitions with a composed first-half finish as Mansfield Town lost 3-1 to Port Vale in Staffordshire.
James Wilson’s 33rd minute equaliser cancelled out the Stags striker’s opener before Vale forward Kian Harratt came off the bench to score a brace.
Manager Nigel Clough made four changes to the team that faced Tranmere Rovers on Friday night.
Midfielders George Lapslie and Ollie Clarke returned to the XI in place of Matty Longstaff and Stephen Quinn. Defenders James Perch and Kieran Wallace replaced outgoing pair Elliott Hewitt and Lucas Akins, with Hewitt taking a place on the Stags’ bench.
Mansfield began with attacking intent by winning a corner thanks to Kieran Wallace’s clever play after 30 seconds.
With chances for both sides at a premium in the opening stages, Stags broke the deadlock with the game’s first real opening on 22 minutes.
Wallace’s pinpoint ball over the top of Vale’s defence from midfield saw Rhys Oates latch on superbly, before muscling his way into the box. The in-form frontman still had work to do, as he knocked it around the ‘keeper to coolly roll the ball over the line.
The hosts came close to striking back on 23 minutes as Vale captain Tom Pett directed an edge of the box shot wide of the post.
Port Vale equalised ten minutes later through striker James Wilson, who latched onto a through-ball pass to shoot under Nathan Bishop and level the score.
The hosts attacked Mansfield soon after half-time when Chris Hussey’s delivery to the back post was nodded across goal by Wilson and volleyed goalward by Harry Charsley. However, Wallace threw himself in the way of the effort from eight yards out to deny the former Stag on 48 minutes.
The midfielder again provided a key contribution to Mansfield’s defensive cause by mopping up David Worrall’s low cross after he had been played in behind by Aaron Martin on 55 minutes.
Mansfield reacted well to Vale’s pressure by forging chances of their own.
On the hour, Oates linked up with Lapslie, whose first-time shot was blocked by Nathan Smith from inside the box.
A minute later, the midfielder was in again. The ball settled nicely for Jamie Murphy inside the box who struck it with his instep, stinging the gloves of Aiden Stone, before the Vale ‘keeper provided a second save to deny Lapslie from poking home the rebound.
Vale took the lead on 76 minutes after the ball skewed off the head of Rawson on the edge of the box, falling to the feet of substitute striker Kian Harratt. The youngster’s initial shot was saved by Bishop but an unfortunate rebound fell back to him, and was slotted over the line by the Huddersfield loanee.
The Stags pushed for a late equaliser and were agonisingly denied by the crossbar on 85 minutes when Lapslie’s whipped ball across the face of goal cannoned onto the woodwork via the boot of defender Nathan Smith.
Soon after, the hosts extended their lead with two minutes to go. Jamie Proctor’s volley at the back post picked out Harratt who converted the chance from the centre of the box to claim his second of the game.
Mansfield are next in action at One Call Stadium this Saturday as the Stags look to prolong their home winning streak against Stevenage.
PORT VALE XI: Stone, Hall, Smith, Worrall, Garrity, Wilson (Harratt 73’), Proctor, Hussey (Benning 67’), Martin, Charsley (Walker 70’), Pett
UNUSED SUBS: Holy, Cooper, Amoo, Edmondson
STAGS XI: Bishop, Perch, Rawson, Wallace, McLaughlin (Bowery 86’), Stirk, Clarke (O’Toole 57’), Lapslie, Murphy, Hawkins, Oates (Johnson 79’)
UNUSED SUBS: Stech, Hewitt, Maris, Law
REFEREE: Peter Wright
ATTENDANCE: 5,233 (947 away)