Two goals in the last 18 minutes saw Doncaster Rovers home to a 2-0 victory over Mansfield Town in tonight’s opening Checkatrade EFL Trophy group clash at One Call Stadium.
To make matters worse for Stags, they also lost Jamie McGuire and Kyle Howkins to injury.
Stags tried to play out from the back, but it wasn’t been the most exciting of games in the much-maligned competition with few clear cut chances.
However, the visitors made the breakthrough on 72 minutes when debut-making teenager Alfie Beestin found the net.
The 18-year-old, signed from Tadcaster Rovers, buried a low 20 yard finish to rock the home side.
Then, as Stags pushed for an equaliser, they were stung on the counter-attack four minutes from time by a break that ended with Liam Mandeville setting up Riccardo Calder with a close range finish.
Stags now face trips to Port Vale and Derby County Adacemy to try to finish in the top two of the group and progress.
The threatened boycott of the competition by fans angry at the inclusion of Premier League academy sides, certainly had an effect with only 1,124 home fans turning out, though it was also the first of three successive home games for the Stags.
Inevitably, the Mansfield side showed seven changes as out went Jensen, Benning, Mitch Rose, Collins, Hurst, Green and Henderson.
Into a still very strong team came Shearer, Baxendale, Hamilton, McGuire, Hemmings, Taft and Danny Rose.
Danny Rose still has one game of his three-game ban to serve but was allowed to play tonight due to the EFL Trophy disciplinary rules being separate to other competitions.
Rovers made six changes with Beestin making his debut.
The Rovers side also included former Stag Matty Blair.
Both sides wore shirts sponsored by One Call Insurance – a rarity.
It was their first meeting since 2006.
A steady start both both sides saw Stags produce the first goal attempt on four minutes as Chapman warmed Etheridge’s hands from 25 yards.
Rovers then had their first sniff on eight minutes as Houghton evaded a tackle and slipped a disguised pass to Calder to his left, who drilled a low shot across the face of goal and past the far post.
After Stags had weathered some Rovers pressure and two corners, Hamilton drilled a low shot across the face of the Doncaster goal on 20 minutes.
Three minutes later Wright went into the box for a clattering tackle on Danny Rose.
Then Hamilton put in a low cross from the left that saw Hamilton swing a leg at it but kick only air.
Danny Rose livened up proceedings on 25 minutes as he raced away down the right onto Bennett’s pass and smashed a powerful shot into the sidenetting.
Houghton was in late on McGuire on 37 minutes to receive Rovers’ second booking of the evening, Stags continuing with 10 men while McGuire was given treatment off the field.
He tried to continue but went down again and this time was helped off down the tunnel by the physio, replaced by Hurst on 42 minutes.
In the second minute of stoppage time Danny Rose flicked the ball on for Hemmings to control, turn and fire a snapshot straight at the keeper.
Two minutes later Danny Rose flicked a header wide from six yards from an excellent Hurst free kick as the half ended scoreless.
Eight minutes into the second half, Stags threw on Hoban in place of Baxendale, pushing two up front.
But Stags were dealt a blow on 59 minutes as on-loan defender Howkins, who had been enjoying a fine game, went off with injury, replaced by Collins.
On 62 minutes Mandeville did well on the right and sent in a firm low cross that Williams was just unable to force home almost on the line.
Two minutes later Collins was just too high from 20 yards for Stags as both sides stepped up their hunt for the breakthrough goal.
Rovers made a double change on 71 minutes, Pugh and Amos on for Williams and Blair.
And a minute later the visitors grabbed the lead.
Rovers had a shot blocked just outside the box, but the ball rolled invitingly for Beestin who lashed a low well-placed shot just inside the left hand post from 20 yards to break the deadlock.
Mansfield finally won their first corner of the night on 78 minutes, but it was headed away.
Stags pressed hard for an equaliser but instead were caught out on the break four minutes from time.
Mandeville raced down the right, beat Collins and sent in a low cross in front of goal that Calder turned home from close range.
That was game over, despite Taft heading inches over from a stoppage time corner, underlining it wasn’t Mansfield’s night.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce (C), Taft, Howkins (Collins 59), Chapman, McGuire (Hurst 42), Baxendale (Hoban 53), Hamilton, Hemmings, D. Rose. Subs not used: Jensen, Benning, M. Rose, Hakeem.
DONCASTER: Etheridge, Calder, Williams, Middleton, Wright, Houghton, Blair (Pugh 71), Mandeville (Amos 71), Beestin (Longbottom 87), Evina, Fielding. Subs not used: Marosi, Butler, Barker, James.
REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick of Preston.
ATTENDANCE: 1,461 (337 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: George Taft.