Mansfield Town’s four-game unbeaten run was halted by a disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Salford City tonight.
It wasn’t the worst performance by John Dempster’s men and, had they taken their chances, they could have won it with some comfort.
But all credit to the Ammies who took two of their rare openings to put themselves in charge on 48 and 65 minutes and then defended superbly, Nicky Maynard’s 76th minute reply at least keeping the game alive to the thrilling end.
Mansfield had made three changes for the first ever visit of EFL new boys.
Ryan Sweeney returned from a one game ban into defence, Alex MacDonald shook off a hip injury to take over from Willem Tomlinson in midfield and Andy Cook came into the attack with CJ Hamilton dropping to the bench with the other two replaced players.
The visitors made one change with Mark Howard replacing the injured Kyle Letheren in goal after signing on an emergency loan from Blackpool.
Mansfield might have gone ahead on a fourth minute attack when Cook squared a pass to Maynard who shot straight at the keeper with MacDonald free to his right in a better position.
Two minutes later Maynard was inches wide with a glancing low header from Benning’s cross in.
On 11 minutes Howard was forced to turn a Cook header round the post from Gordon’s cross and, from the corner, Shaughnessy was inches wide as he hooked it back towards goal.
Having survived those early scares, the visitors thought they had gone ahead on 16 minutes when Burgess headed home a Touray free kick from six yards only to see an offside flag raised.
Jervis caused home worries when he sped off down the left at full pelt on a break but his low cross passed through everyone.
The dangerous Maynard was too high at the other end after spinning away on Gordon’s low ball, soon after seeing another shot deflect for a corner.
Shaughnessy was then tamely wide from 30 yards and Bishop sidefooted wide from 20 yards and then sent a low effort straight to Howard as Stags continued to plug away.
However, on 39 minutes Salford rattled the home woodwork.
Rooney won a free kick almost 25 yards out and Conway saw his effort hit the left post with Logan clawing at fresh air.
Lifted by that, the Ammies then won a couple of corners, which were cleared as the half ended goalless.
But Stags were stung by a Salford goal within three minutes of the restart.
Rooney’s flick on the left sent Jervis on his way and he sped to the edge of the box before slotting a low finish across Logan and in off the far post.
Jones was booked for his foul on Bishop on 53 minutes.
Stags resumed the offensive and Bishop was over with a dipping shot to end a move started by a superb pass by Shaughnessy.
On 61 Stags came desperately close. Sweeney brought the ball forward and found Shaughnessy whose inch-perfect pass put Maynard into the box only for the striker to zip a finish across the face of goal and wide.
But it was 2-0 to Salford on 65 minutes as Sweeney failed to clear a Jervis cross from the left and Rooney met it with a sweet volley that dipped home over Logan.
Stags quickly sent on extra firepower with Afolayan on for MacDonald.
Neither Cook nor Benning could make use of a decent far post cross by Gordon as we entered the last 20 minutes.
Maynard finally gave Stags some hope on 76 minutes. Picked out by Shaughnessy’s pass, he turned a defender and was able to stab home from six yards.
Maynard headed a Benning cross wide on 81 minutes and on 86 Touray was booked for chopping down Gordon as the visitors held on to what they had.
A Benning free kick was flicked on by Maynard and Pearce touched it towards goal where the keeper’s save came agonisingly back off him and wide for a goalkick.
Four minutes were added in which Bishop had a vicious finish blocked by Jones then saw his goalwards header fail to reach Cook.
Cook went down under a challenge for a high ball but his penalty shout went unheard.
Bishop’s frustrated lunge on Jervis then earned him a booking as the night ended in defeat.
STAGS: Logan; Gordon, Pearce, Sweeney, Benning; MacDonald (Afolayan 67), Bishop, Shaughnessy, Khan; Cook, N. Maynard. Subs: Olejnik, Preston, Tomlinson, Hamilton, Knowles, Smith.
SALFORD: Howard, Wiseman, Touray, Armstrong (Threlkeld 75), L. Maynard, Rooney (Dieseruvwe 75), Burgess, Pond, Jones, Jervis, Conway (Hughes 81). Subs: Evans, Lloyd, Towell, Doyle.
REFEREE: Neil Hair of Cambridgeshire.
ATTENDANCE: 4,170 (108 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Conor Shaughnessy