Misfiring Mansfield drew a disappointing blank as they suffered a slender defeat away to league leaders Exeter.
Ryan Bowman’s fifth minute goal did the damage as the Stags failed to fire on the road.
And to rub salt into the wound Ryan Sweeney was sent-off with four minutes remaining for elbowing the match-winner.
Defeat means John Dempter’s side have still won just once this season in all competitions.
Bowman’s early strike gave the Grecians the perfect start at St James Park – and in truth they could have won by more if the woodwork had not denied them as well.
Dempster made three changes to his side which lost on penalties to Everton Under-21s in the Football League Trophy on Tuesday night at the One Call Stadium.
Skipper Krystian Pearce replaced James Clarke in the starting line-up, while Kellan Gordon and Nicky Maynard were recalled in place of CJ Hamilton and Otis Khan respectively.
And the changes worked well for the opening passage as the Stags started brightly against their high-flying opponents.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis went close but he saw his powerful left-footed strike fly wide of the right post after just four minutes.
But less than a minute later the Grecians were ahead thanks to a smart finish from Bowman.
A quick throw from Dean Moxey set Bowman free and the striker didn’t waste the chance to bag his second goal of the season.
Nicky Maynard shot wide as the Stags went in search of an equaliser, but at the other end Randell Williams forced a smart save from keeper Conrad Logan as the Grecians came close to doubling their advantage.
Lee Martin had a couple of efforts save by a busy Logan and then Bowman nearly scored his second goal, heading against a post and seeing his effort and cleared off the line.
Mal Benning shot wide for the Stags early in the second half and Alex MacDonald blazed over, but the visitors didn’t do enough to snatch even a point on their travels.
Omari Sterling-James shot wide as well for the visitors, but then Sweeney was given his marching orders for needlessly elbowing goalscorer Bowman and Stags weren't able to force an equaliser.
Exeter: Ward, Sweeney, Martin, Williams, Bowman, Jay (Woodman 88), Moxey, Sparkes, Taylor, Collins.
Subs: Maxted, Tillson, Ajose, Parkes, Fisher, Richardson.
Mansfield: Logan, Preston (Hamilton 78), Pearce, Sweeney, Gordon, Tomlinson (Sterling-James 70), MacDonald, Benning, Mellis, Rose, Maynard.
Subs: Stone, White, Khan, Afolayan, Smith.
Referee: Nick Kinseley