STAGS trailed to a 31st minute Michael Coulson goal for Grimsby Town at Field Mill this afternoon.
The Mariners had the edge in a first half short on real goal chances though Luke O’Neill almost levelled with a 37th minute free kick that keeper James McKeown pushed into the bar.
Referee Rob Merchant angered both sets of fans with some strange decisions and Grimsby won few friends with their gamesmanship in a frustrating 45 minutes.
Duffy might have made an instant impact against his old club when a long Eagle cross from the left reached him seven yards out at the far post after just 20 seconds. But the ball struck his shin and rolled to Marriott.
Meikle pulled a tame low shot at McKeown at the other end a minute later.
But it was Grimsby making the early running and, from a short corner, Church was allowed to get in a header at the far post which Marriott smothered.
Mansfield were slow to get going but produced a move on 12 minutes which ended with Murray crossing to the far post where Todd guided the ball into the keeper’s arms.
Soon after a flicked-on cross found Dyer at the back stick but he blazed a hurried effort well off target.
Home fans were unhappy as the referee allowed Grimsby to get away with a foul or three and then lectured Murray when he won a robust, but fair header.
On 24 minutes Coulson was just wide with an off-balance header from another left wing Eagle cross.
The Hearn was too high after controlling on his chest and letting fly with a half-volley on the turn from 20 yards as Grimsby continued to have the edge.
And they went ahead on 31 minutes through Coulson.
Given space just outside the box, Coulson aimed for the top left corner and, although Marriott, at full stretch, got a hand to it, he could only turn and watch as the ball agonisingly dropped in front of goal and trickled over the line.
Stags responded with a corner which, clearerd out to Meikle saw his first shot come back to him off team mate Murray, and his follow-up curl just away from goal at the last minute from 20 yards.
The referee continued to make odd decisions, especially when Disley fairly won the ball against Meikle and a foul was give.
Disley was furious and was booked for his protests, but the former Stag actually barged into the official and should have been red-carded immediately.
Mansfield were almost level on 37 minutes when O’Neill’s central 20 yard free kick was turned onto the bar by McKeown and Futcher’s follow-up was then saved by the busy keeper.
Stags won another corner from which Murray and Green had shots charged down after McKeown had half-punched clear. But the Mariners had the half-time edge.
The Stags side had showed three changes. Ben Futcher and Tom Naylor returned after suspension to play at the expense of Joe Kendrick and Martin Riley with Lindon Meikle coming into midfield in place of the suspended Anthony Howell.
Ex-Stag Craig Disley skippered a Mariners side which also included other former Field Mill stars Gary Silk, Rob Duffy and Scott Garner.
STAGS: Marriott; Naylor, Sutton, Futcher, O’Neill; Todd, Murray, Worthington, Meikle; Green, Dyer. Subs: Redmond, Riley, Stevenson, Connor, Bolland.
GRIMSBY: McKeown, Ridley, Church, Kempson, Garner, Coulson, Disley, Hearn, Duffy, Wood, Eagle. Subs: Silk, Artus, Pearson, Makofu, Elding.
REFEREE: Rob Merchant of Staffordshire.