Mansfield went down to another away defeat – number 13 of the season – at bottom of the table Hartlepool, thanks to Brad Walker’s penalty early in the second half.
The Stags played the last half hour with ten men when Junior Brown was red-carded, and while they pressed late on they could not match Pools for effort and commitment.
Hartlepool had the two early chances in the game, but the Stags were not troubled.
Ryan Bird broke away on the right side, a quick burst of speed taking him past Simon Heslop and he tried to feed Jon Franks in the area, but some smart covering from Michael Raynes diverted the ball for a corner.
Then Franks crossed, Bird headed at goal and, while the ball floated high up towards the top corner, keeper Lennny Pidgeley gathered under pressure.
The Stags first chance came on 19 minutes, Raynes heading a corner wide from ten yards.
Pools were forced into a change when Scott Harrison, dominant at centre-half, went off after taking a blow to the head and the Stags then enjoyed their most productive spell, moving the ball around well.
On half-time, Pools midfielder Aaron Tshibola fizzed a volley wide of the post, but three minutes into the second-half the Stags trailed.
Nicky Featherstone made the most of a kind bounce to progress into the area and was bundled over by Martin Riley.
Referee Darren Handley had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Walker sent Pidgeley the wrong way from 12 yards.
And it got worse for the Stags on the hour mark. Junior Brown challenged Walker for a high ball and managed to plant his studs into the scorer’s face. No malice intended, but Mr Handley sent him off.
However the Stags pressed for a leveller and were three times denied in quick succession by Pools’ keeper Scott Flinders.
First he saved a low Billy Kee free-kick that was curled low around the wall, before stopping a shot from substitute Reggie Lambe after a frantic goalmouth scramble.
The inspired keeper saved his best for last however, diving high to his right to paw away a stunning Chris Clements shot from 30 yards out.