Mansfield Town were narrowly beaten 2-1 at home to Sky Bet League Two champions Leyton Orient.
The hosts were reduced to ten men on 62 minutes when Shadrach Ogie hacked down Stags’ Davis Keillor-Dunn outside the box who had raced through on goal.
The forward had put his side ahead after ten minutes with a smart close range finish.
The visitors rallied and drew level seven minutes later through forward Charlie Kelman before Ruel Sotiriou notched his ninth league goal of the season to take the lead.
The Stags remain slenderly outside the play-off places on goal difference.
Manager Nigel Clough made one change to the side that battled to victory at home to Stevenage three days ago. Striker Rhys Oates replaced James Gale in attack and club captain Ollie Clarke recovered from a knee injury to make the bench.
Stags set out in a 4-3-3 formation, with Oates occupying the right flank and Davis Keillor-Dunn the left.
Orient started the brighter as Kieran Sadlier let fly from 30 yards inside the first minute, only to be denied by Alfie Kilgour’s sturdy block.
The hosts created their first opportunity on eight minutes when Stephen Quinn was allowed to cross the ball into Lucas Akins from the left. The Stags’ striker controlled, backed into his marker and laid off to Keillor-Dunn, whose strike was agonisingly blocked by Craig Clay.
Mansfield built on their momentum to snatch a go-ahead goal two minutes later. Hiram Boateng’s winding run into the box from the right got Mansfield in behind the champions’ backline before the midfielder picked out Keillor-Dunn five yards out from goal. Stags’ number 40 met the pass first time to confidently turn the ball into the bottom corner and hand Mansfield an early lead.
The visitors reacted and drew level on 17 minutes. Jamie McCart’s volley from outside the box cannoned off the inside of the post and landed fortuitously for forward Charlie Kelman to head home from close range.
Mansfield were not subdued and came close to retaking the lead four minutes later. Boateng’s dipping cross picked out Callum Johnson inside the box, who saw his powered header cleared off the line by Orient’s Jordan Brown.
The game’s end to end nature continued as Alfie Kilgour’s last ditch sliding tackle inside the Stags’ box denied Kelman of his second on 23 minutes.
Left-back Elliott Hewitt had to be substituted in the 28th minute following a heavy challenge minutes earlier. Defender Riley Harbottle replaced him and played at right-back, with Johnson subsequently shifting to left back.
Orient took the lead on 31 minutes when Ruel Sotiriou powerfully converted Sadlier’s cutback pass with a first-time strike into the bottom corner.
Stags continued to seek opportunities to attack and they came close to levelling through Keillor-Dunn on 40 minutes. The forward broke down the left, cut in on his right and whipped a curling effort at goal which was sure to trouble Sam Sargeant had it not been for defender Sadrach Ogie’s important block five yards from goal.
Mansfield made one change at the break as Louis Reed replaced Kieran Wallace in midfield.
The hosts saw plenty of possession after the interval but were made to wait until the 61st minute for their first sight of goal in the half when Boateng’s superb midfield pass sent Keillor-Dunn racing through on goal. Stags’ nippy attacker was chased down by visiting defender Ogie, whose sliding challenge chopped down Keillor-Dunn 20 yards from goal to earn himself a straight red card.
Boateng attempted to delicately curl the subsequent free-kick with his left but was denied by the robust Leyton Orient wall.
Despite their man advantage, it was the east London outfit who crafted the next opportunity. Forward Aaron Drinan controlled a loose ball on the edge of Mansfield’s box before dragging a driven effort narrowly wide of the bottom left corner.
A minute later, the hosts created a golden opportunity to notch an equaliser. Johnson’s accurate cross from the right found Oates in space five yards out, however the forward’s first touch let him down to squander the opening.
Stags continued their rally and came close again on 76 minutes. The ball was worked to Akins from the left, who twisted and turned inside the box but his effort was held by Sargeant.
Clarke was introduced from the bench on 80 minutes and almost made an immediate impact when his right-sided cross narrowly evaded the boot of George Maris in front of goal.
With Orient penned inside the defensive third, Stags came agonisingly close to a late equaliser. First, Keillor-Dunn’s floated cross picked out Johnson at the far post, but the defender directed his header wide. Then a minute later, Oates stung the hands of Sargeant from outside the box who spilled the ball into Clarke but the midfielder’s effort from the centre of the box effort was deflected over the bar.
The hosts remained spirited in the closing stages but were unable to craft a late equaliser. Mansfield remain outside the top seven league positions on goal difference ahead a crucial match at home to Harrogate Town on Saturday.
STAGS XI: Pym, Johnson, Kilgour, Perch, Hewitt (Harbottle, 28’), Wallace (Reed, 45’), Boateng (Clarke, 80’), Quinn (Maris, 71’), Oates, Akins (Swan, 80’), Keillor-Dunn
SUBS: Flinders, Law
LEYTON ORITENT XI: Sargeant, Ogie, Thompson, Smyth (James, 66’), Clay, Sotiriou (Moncur, 69’), Brown, Kelman (Duke-McKenna, 86’), Sweeney, McCart, Sadlier (Drinan, 69’)
SUBS: Byrne, Happe, Pratley
REFEREE: Robert Lewis
ATTENDANCE: 7,072 (527)