Mansfield suffered their first defeat in five games as former Stag Ollie Palmer’s eighth goal of the season saw Leyton Orient squeeze out a narrow victory at Brisbane Road.
After a goalless first half Palmer headed home shortly after the restart, meaning Mansfield will be looking to finish their campaign on a high at home to Cambridge next Saturday.
Though the match was played at the sedate tempo of an end-of-season encounter between two sides with little to play for, both teams fashioned chances in the first half.
Orient’s Blair Turgott pounced on a hashed clearance by Ryan Tafazolli and his low shot brought a smart save from Mansfield goalkeeper Scott Shearer in the eighth minute.
Targetman Palmer then missed a sitter that really ought to have put Orient ahead. The former Mansfield striker rounded Shearer but the ball got caught under his feet, allowing Malvind Benning to recover and clear.
Mansfield were going for a club record 11th league away win of the season and carved out opportunities of their own.
Just before the half-hour mark, Reggie Lambe’s deep cross from found Emmanuel Dieseruvwe whose glancing header beat an onrushing Alex Cisak in the Orient goal, but bounced just wide.
Lee Chapman almost put the Stags in front after 35 minutes with a left-footed free-kick, but Cisak got down sharply to save at his near post.
Three minutes into the second half, Palmer atoned for his earlier miss in emphatic fashion.
Having stuck the post moments earlier, Palmer’s persistence was rewarded as he planted home a header from a Lloyd James free-kick.
Mansfield went close to an equaliser on 56 minutes as Lambe pounced on a loose second ball from a Mansfield corner, but his right-footed shot smacked the bar.
Orient skipper James went close to putting clear daylight between the teams with a curling free-kick that drifted just wide with 14 minutes remaining as Mansfield failed to find a leveller.