Ten-man Mansfield Town lost for the first time on the road this season as Carlisle United ran out deserved 3-2 victors at Brunton Park this afternoon
The Stags disappointed almost throughout on a miserable day which also saw veteran schemer Neal Bishop sent off after the half-time whistle.
Dave Flitcroft’s side slipped to only their second loss of the season anywhere after a somewhat frantic finish, and as a consequence dropped out of the League Two automatic promotion places.
The managerless Cumbrians roared into the lead after just four minutes at Brunton Park.
Ashley Nadesan turned neatly before playing in Jack Sowerby, and he lashed home precisely into the corner from the edge of the box.
The Stags responded with Timi Elsnik volleying over the top from a decent position, but it was the hosts who remained in control in the early stages.
Krystian Pearce also fluffed a chance for the Stags, one which was punished as Carlisle extended their lead in the 26th minute.
This time Nadesan was again the provider, teeing up Hallam Hope, who buried a shot clinically.
The stunned Stags just couldn’t fashion a clear-cut opening. and almost fell three behind just before half-time when Pearce intervened to brilliantly rob Hope just as he was preparing to shoot with only Conrad Logan to beat.
The Stags’ predicament certainly wasn’t helped by Bishop’s second yellow card, brandished for something that happened after the end of the first half.
Credit to Flitcroft’s depleted side, they continued to battle hard in the early stages of the second period, and Tyler Walker twice went close to halving the deficit.
At the other end, the Cumbrians threatened to increase their lead when Jamie Devitt’s looping header dropped inches over the crossbar.
Stags fans were given hope with 12 minutes left when Matt Preston headed home Mal Benning’s free-kick, but two minutes later it was 3-1 when Hope notched his second of the game, firing in at the near post.
Tyler Walker then nodded in to make it 3-2, but the Stags couldn’t complete what would have been an unbelievable late comeback as their unbeaten League Two run was ended at 17 games.
CARLISLE: Collin, Parkes, Liddle, Gerrard, Grainger, Hope (McCarron, 86), Devitt, Gillesphey, Sowerby, Etuhu, Nadesan. Subs not used: Gray, Miller, Kennedy, Jones, Bennett, Slater.
STAGS: Logan, Preston, Pearce, Sweeney (Atkinson, 46), White, Mellis, Elsnik (Rose, 33), Bishop, Benning, Walker, Hamilton. Subs not used: Kean, Khan, Butcher, Law, Graham.