Mansfield Town scored three second-half goals to emerge victorious from the first Nottinghamshire Derby since 2019.
We'd had the dream start thanks to Dan Crowley's third-minute goal but, after Louis Reed had levelled before half-time, Baily Cargill, Aden Flint and Lucas Akins took the game away from us.
Luke Williams was forced to change the side that played out a 1-1 draw at Barrow in our last league outing, with skipper Kyle Cameron missing out through injury and Connell Rawlinson replacing him.
Jodi Jones was due to be on international duty with Malta but was unable to travel due to an injury he picked up in Cumbria, so Sam Austin came in at left wing back.
In goal, Sam Slocombe got the nod over former Stag Aidan Stone following his Man of the Match performance against Derby in Tuesday’s EFL Trophy tie.
That meant Aden Baldwin, Richard Brindley and Rawlinson were the back three protecting him, with a more familiar look in central areas as John Bostock and Matt Palmer played behind Crowley and David McGoldrick.
Aaron Nemane played on the opposite flank to Austin, with Macaulay Langstaff continuing up front.
On the bench, Williams’ options were Stone, Ollie Tipton, Lewis Macari, Tobi Adebayo, Jim O’Brien, Junior Morias and youngster Charlie Gill, fresh from his substitute appearance against Derby.
We were in dreamland after a bright start to the game when a penetrating move down the right ended with Crowley’s goalbound shot being turned into the net by a defender on the goal line.
But the visitors were unfazed and almost had their equaliser on 17 minutes when David Keillor-Dunn cut in from the left and saw his low shot bounce off the base of the post, into Slocombe’s back and behind.
Mansfield’s Callum Macdonald produced an important clearance to prevent Nemane from heading McGoldrick’s cross home at the back stick before Baldwin and Bostock responded with big blocks of their own after Slocombe’s misplaced pass had left him stranded.
It was proving to be a topsy-turvy affair and Langstaff came close to putting us back ahead when his left-footed, curling effort drifted wide from the edge of the area.
But it was the Stags who would score next as Bostock’s appeals for a foul were waved away and Mansfield seized their opportunity, working the ball to Keillor-Dunn who found the finish inside the area.
The visitors continued to enjoy the better of the play leading into half-time, but we so nearly went into the break ahead after Crowley was denied a second goal when a defender got in the way of another goalbound effort on the line – this time clearing the ball away.
We made a bright start to the second period, Nemane’s low cross being intercepted to Langstaff’s frustration, but the visitors soon regained control with Rawlinson having to make an important block as we played a period with 10 men without the injured Bostock.
O’Brien was the man to replace him but he was unable to change the flow of the game in our favour as the Stags were denied by a save from Slocombe and an important block from Baldwin to atone for his error in the build-up.
Nemane kissed a shot against the side-netting in one of our rare forays forward but, a minute later, the Stags took the lead as Cargill rose highest to score from a corner.
Five minutes later, our task got even tougher when Akins turned another corner on to the post and watched on as Flint powered the ball home on the rebound.
And, after Aaron Lewis had skied a big chance and Slocombe had made a low save from Akins, the game was put well and truly out of reach when Akins swept home the fourth goal inside our area.
STARTING XI: Slocombe; Rawlinson, Baldwin, Brindley; Bostock, Palmer, Crowley, McGoldrick; Langstaff
SUBS: Stone, Macari, Tipton, Adebayo, O'Brien, Gill, Morias
BOOKINGS: McGoldrick 67'
ATTENDANCE: 16,638 (3,880)