Preston North End knock plucky Mansfield Town out of Caraboa Cup for second year in a row
The home side created the better first half chances and could count themselves unfortunate to be behind to a top drawer finish by Scott Sinclair just before the break.
But Preston were improved after the break and two goals in 11 minutes by Sinclair and sub Emil Riis ended any remaining home hopes.
Mansfield made four changes with debuts for Ryan Burke, who replaced James Perch at the back and fellow Birmingham loanee Ryan Stirk, replacing Stephen Quinn.
Forward duo Danny Johnson and Oliver Hawkins, who both netted in the win over Bristol Rovers on Saturday, both dropped to the bench to be replaced by fit-again George Lapslie and Jordan Bowery.
Rhys Oates joined Bowery up front and Stephen McLaughlin moved across to centre half with Stirk at left back.
Preston made seven changes from the side beaten at home by Hull City at the weekend, but still named a very strong line-up.
Patrick Bauer was making his first competitive start since December 2020 while forwards Sean Maguire and Sinclair returned after recent Covid isolation periods had ended.
North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd suffered concussion on Saturday and was replaced by Daniel Iversen.
Stags went straight onto the offensive and Stirk curled a dangerous ball across the Preston box in the opening 15 seconds with no one able to connect.
On three minutes Oates cut in from the left and took on two defenders before drilling a low shot at Iversen from a tight angle.
Maris then sent Bowery into space and Bauer did well to block his finish for a corner.
Preston's first threat came on 13 minutes as quick passes from Whiteman and Maguire gave Sinclair sight of goal down the centre, Bishop down to safely grab his low finish.
Oates then went close for the home with a low snapshot wide after superbly controlling a ball in from Stirk.
Potts was well over from distance on the half-hour as Stags continued to have the edge.
On 37 minutes Oates collected a long free kick on the edge of the box and made space before pulling a finish just wide of the far post.
Lapslie guided a Burke cross first time wide, then when Burke had a shot blocked, Stirk was quickly onto the loose ball to force Iversen to save a low finish.
But as the game entered the first added minute, Preston took the lead against the run of play.
Maguire sent Sinclair into the box with a fine pass and as Bishop advanced, the Preston man coolly lifted a finish over him into the empty net.
Stags again pressed after the break and Oates glanced a header wide from a Burke cross on 56 minutes.
Sinclair joined the action in place of Oates on 64 minutes and from his corner soon after Rawson had a shot on the turn blocked.
But Preston were 2-0 up on 71 minutes.
A poor kick out by Bishop gifted the ball to Sinclair.
He redeemed himself by blocking the finish, but the ball ran loose and Riis managed to win it on the by-line in a tussle with Rawson before squeezing home across Bishop from a tight angle.
Two minutes later Potts crashed a volley against a post from Cunningham's left wing cross.
Bauer saw the night's only booking for fouling Lapslie on 78 minutes.
Victory was fully sealed on 81 minutes when a superb pass from ex-Stag Whiteman gave Sinclair time and space in the box to drill home a low finish.
Stags sub Sinclair got a 25 yard free kick on target but Iverson was there to deny a consolation.
But the game gave valuable match time to some key fringe players and Nigel Clough will draw many positives from the cup exit.
STAGS: Bishop, Gordon, Rawson, McLaughlin, Burke, Maris (Law 74), O. Clarke (Johnson 78), Stirk, Lapslie, Bowery, Oates (Sinclair 64). SUBS NOT USED: Shelvey, Hawkins, Perch, J. Clarke.
PRESTON: Iverson, Van den Berg, Cunningham, Whiteman, Bauer, Johnson, Storey, Hughes, Maguire (Riis 66), Sinclair (Rodwell-Grant 82), Potts (Thomas 83). SUBS NOT USED: Ripley, Rafferty, Earl, Harrop.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce.
ATTENDANCE: 2,526 (486 away).