Below-par Cheltenham Town suffered only their second defeat in 15 games at Mansfield Town's One Call Stadium this evening.
All the goals arrived in 14 second half minutes with Sam Smith scoring the first on the night to give them a lead against the run of play.
What followed was a calamitous passage of play, changing the complextion of the game. A goal by Jordan Bowery and two more from Jamie Reid in quick succession condemned the Robins to a rare defeat on their travels.
There were positives. It was Smith's third goal in seven matches since his arrival from Reading in January and there was a first start for Liam Sercombe since the match in Colchester at the end of December.
And despite the loss Michael Duff's side remained top after Morecambe's late equaliser at Forest Green Rovers.
But it's tight at the top and just six points split the leaders and the side in eighth, Exeter City, who just happen to be the next opponents in four days time.
"We weren't quite good enough tonight," said Duff after the game.
"The first half wasn't particularly good. We weren't happy about a few things but then we scored a really good goal in the second half, then made some silly mistakes.
"They didn't have to work hard for those goals. When you take the lead against a struggling side, you don't start trying to play out from the back for 10 or 15 minutes. If we'd have kept them quiet, with how resilient we've been, they would have started to lose belief. It would have killed their spirit.
"We made the mistakes so we weren't quite at it today."
He made one change to his side, restoring Sercombe at the expense of Finn Azaz while striker George Lloyd returned on the bench in place of Tom Chamberlain.
The Stags made a positive start and produced the lion's share of chances in the opening 45 minutes. Josh Griffiths was forced into the first save of the contest as early as the fifth minute to deny former Evesham United man Mal Benning, low to his left. The goalkeeper was then carded for a clumsy challenge on Jamie Reid outside his box five minutes later, earning himself the first evening's first caution.
Next Sean Long was called into a desperate block to deny Reid with a powerful volley from 12 yards as Cheltenham soaked up the early pressure.
Duff's side's best chance of the half arrived midway through the first half when Charlie Raglan met a trademark Ben Tozer thow, but his glancing header dropped inches over the bar. Callum Wright later had the ball in the net but he was in an offside position when he flicked Sam Smith's effort past Marek Stech.
At the other end Bowery hit the post before Griffiths dropped to block the follow-up by Farrend Rawson.
But Duff's side started the second half with more purpose and made the breakthrough six minutes after the restart through a fine team goal.
It started in their own box with some cool play by Conor Thomas, who sent Liam Sercombe on his way. He found Smith and then Chris Hussey, moving past his man on the left before picking out Smith with another brilliant delivery, and the striker applied the perfect finish.
The home side though responded well and drew level only four minutes later when Bowery met Jason Law's ball form the left with a thumping finish from 12 yards.
They were in front through Reid after 63 minutes, bundling home from close range after a scramble caused by some more great play by Law.
And it was only another two minutes later when Bowery swapped passes with Reid before beating Griffiths at his near post.
There were two great chances to extend the lead yet further but Law and then Reid – on his hattrick – missed the target from promising positions, not that it affected the result in the end.
MANSFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Stech; Gordon, Perch, Benning, Benning; Clark (c), McLaughlin, Law, Quinn; Reid, Bowery. Subs not used: Pardington (Gk), O'Keeffe, Charsley, Wright, Ward, Sinclair, Lapslie.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer (c), Long; Blair, Thomas, Wright (Azaz 60), Sercombe, Hussey; Smith, May. Subs not used: Flinders (Gk), Williams, Freestone, Lloyd, Horton, Vassilev.
REFEREE: S Oldham