Mansfield Town’s unbeaten start to the season was ended after a 2-1 defeat at home to Exeter City.
Dean Moxey gave the promotion-chasing Grecians the lead at the break with a well taken finish, before Nicky Law doubled the advantage just before the hour mark.
Mansfield pulled a goal back five minutes after falling behind through Tyler Walker’s close range finish.
But they failed to bag an equaliser despite late pressure to cap a disappointing afternoon in what was their toughest test of the campaign so far..
Stags had started strongly with Christy Pym doing well to beat away Tyler Walker’s powerful shot on 13 minutes.
But they faded after a good start with the intensity and tempo dropping as the visitors grew into the game.
And they fell behind thanks to Dean Moxey’s beautifully curling effort on 31 minutes after he was given too much time and space on the edge of the box.
The lead was doubled when Nicky Law headed home from close range on 57 minutes after Pierce Sweeney’s cross carved Mansfield open.
Tyler Walker bagged his sixth goal of the campaign on 62 minutes with a toe-poke to give Mansfield hope.
It sparked a brief upturn in tempo as Mansfield began to push Exeter back and play with purpose.
But Matt Taylor’s men did enough to hold on as they moved into the automatic promotion places.
Boss David Flitcroft made one change with midfielder Calum Butcher coming into the side after impressing against Lincoln City at the expense of Danny Rose.
But forward Craig Davies was ruled out following a knock.
Christy Pym saved comfortably from Otis Khan’s fifth minute free-kick as Stags began to take control.
Alex MacDonald failed to get hold of a curling effort from distance on 11 minutes after Jordan Tilson sloppily gave the ball away.
Pym beat away a firm shot from Tyler Walker two minutes later as Stags cranked up the pressure.
Jordan Stockley headed Pierce Sweeney’s looping cross against the post on 23 minutes as the Grecians threatened for the first time.
Hiram Boateng fired over from a good position minutes later after Stockley scuffed his effort.
And the visitors hit the front in the 31st minute after Dean Moxey’s beautifully curling effort from the edge of the box went in off the inside of the post.
Stags had a let off on 41 minutes when Boateng failed to get the ball out from under his feet when in a great position in the box.
Lee Holmes had a shot deflected over for a corner on 50 minutes as Exeter looked for a vital second goal.
Stockley headed against the upright a minute later after Bobby Olejnik failed to claim a cross.
Danny Rose came off the bench on 55 minutes to the delight of the home fans as David Flitcroft looked for a change of fortune.
Krystian Pearce boomed a header over from a corner a minute later.
Nicky Law headed home from close range to double Exeter’s lead on 57 minutes after Sweeney’s cross carved Mansfield open.
Tyler Walker bagged his sixth goal of the campaign on 62 minutes with a toe-poke after Danny Rose’s powerful header had been saved.
Neal Bishop fired over from distance on 64 minutes as Mansfield increased the tempo and intensity.
A diving Stockley glanced a header well wide on 73 minutes after NIcky Law’s brilliant run and cross created an opening.
Pym held well as Pearce again showed his danger from a corner on 74 minutes.
Stags continued to push in the late stages with Danny Rose’s injury-time acrobatic effort the highlight.
But Stags failed to create enough chances to break down a solid Exeter defence as their final ball all too often let them down.
Mansfield Town: Olejnik, Preston, Pearce, Sweeney, White, MacDonald, Bishop, Hamilton, Butcher, Khan, Walker.
Subs: Logan, Gibbens, Benning, Atkinson, Elsnik, Rose, Graham.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Martin, Croll, Moxey, Boateng, Tillson, Taylor, Law, Holmes, Stockley.
Subs: O’Shea, Martin, Hamon, Forte. Oates, Abrahams, Ogbene.
Referee: Andy Haines:
Stags MOM: Otis Khan.