Home goals right at the start and end of the first half saw Mansfield Town bow out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle at League One Tranmere Rovers tonight.
Stags were left reeling when former Swansea and Leeds midfield ace Andy Robinson headed the Wirral club in front after only 62 seconds.
The classy Robinson continued to pull the strings and carved out a second for Chris Atkinson at a vital time in first half stoppage time.
Stags rallied well after the break, but lacked a finish on a couple of good chances created.
Ollie Palmer and Sam Clucas beavered away up front on the scraps they were fed and deserve much credit.
But Mansfield ended a second game without a goal and, after last Saturday’s opening League Two 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe, will now look to this Saturday’s first home game of the season at home to Exeter City to kickstart their campaign after a very difficult first four days, in which they at least held their own away against very tough opposition without any reward.
Rovers suffered a pre-match blow when midfielder Max Power, named in their starting XI, was taken ill and had to be replaced by Chris Atkinson.
However, Mansfield were caught cold by a quick throw on the right after just 62 seconds.
It was flicked on in the box by Foster and Robinson stole in to guide a six-yard header out of Marriott’s reach and just inside the left post.
On seven minutes Clucas did well to rob Rowe and advance to 25 yards from goal before sending a tame finish at Fon Williams.
Jennings also tested the keeper from distance after a fine interception just inside the Rovers half and a good burst forward, but again it was easy for Fon Williams.
On 11 minutes Palmer set up Clucas for a low shot that he pulled wide.
But Stags knew they needed something better with which to test Fon Williams and it was almost Tranmere who found the net as Robinson put over the night’s first corner and Taylor met it with a free six yard header that went wide. The look of anguish on the youngster’s face said it all as it was a golden chance.
The game was being played at a sedate pace with neither keeper troubled again until the 27th minute when Atkinson received a return pass from Thompson and struck a powerful curling shot from 25 yards that Marriott beat away, throwing himself full-length to his right to get there.
A short pass by Meikle set Rovers on the attack again, Lowe’s low ball across the box too firm for anyone to capitalise.
A Clucas shot deflected out for the visitors’ first corner on 36 minutes which Fon Williams was able to fist away.
There was a hold up after Jennings stumbled off the pitch and clashed heads with one of the assistant referees.
Taylor could not get his header on target from Tranmere’s second corner, then Clucas got away from Taylor on the left only to rifle over the bar from the left hand corner of the box as we approached half-time.
But like the shock start to the game, this half also had a sting in its tail as Tranmere increased their advantage a minute into stoppage time.
Robinson’ pass put Atkinson into the left hand side of the box where he beat Beevers and then smashed in a near post finish past a helpless Marriott.
Palmer almost got Howell in on goal even deeper in time added on, the midfielder getting into the position but stumbling at the vital moment.
Then Marriott did well to cut out Thompson’s cross before it could reach Sodje at the far post.
So Stags left the field facing the same two-goal mountain they had at Scunthorpe on Saturday.
McCombe had twice suffered knocks in then first half and it was no surprise to see him replaced by Sutton at the break.
Palmer had a shot charged down with less then 20 seconds of the new half gone as Stags sought a quick foothold into the contest.
On 51 minutes Jennings did superbly well to get between two defenders on the by-line and get into a shooting position where he failed to beat Fon Williams at his near post.
Mansfield were almost back in business on 61 minutes as a brilliant pass from the outside of his boot by Palmer released Clucas.
He drew the keeper and rounded him to his left before pulling a low pass back from the by-line into the path of Briscoe who, under pressure, couldn’t hit the gaping net.
Seconds later Meikle got in behind the last defender to guide a volley straight at the keeper from Beevers’ long hanging cross from the right.
Speight took over from Briscoe for the final 17 minutes.
Jennings and Thompson were warned for a clash on the touchline and, when Jennings brought him down soon after, the game’s first yellow card was shown to the Mansfield defender.
Robinson cut inside from the left to force a save from Marriott at his near post while Dempster got his body in the way of an Akpa Akpro drive and Lowe then blazed wide of the near post from Thompson’s neat pass as Rovers ended the night well on top.
TRANMERE: Fon Williams, Holmes, Horwood, Taylor, Foster, Thompson, Lowe, Robinson, Rowe (Koumas 64), Power, Sodje (Akpa Akpro 71) Subs not used: Goodison, Baggie, Atkinson, Stockton, Mooney.
STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Dempster, McCombe (Sutton 45), Jennings; Briscoe (Speight 73), Howell, Murray, Meikle; Clucas, Palmer (Rhead 79). Subs not used: Stevenson, Daniel, Clements, Dyer.
REFEREE: David Webb of Lancashire.