Mansfield boss Graham Coughlan was furious with his winless side for abandoning his game plan in the 2-1 home defeat by Exeter.
The Stags have not beaten City at home for 11 games and 22 years and, despite going ahead, twice conceded from corners.
“We haven’t coached them all week Monday to Friday just to hit the ball forward and smash it. That’s not what I want to see,” said Coughlan.
“I don’t know if it was conceding the goals, the windy conditions or if we were a touch nervy. But that was a lacklustre performance and I’m not having that.
“We coach them to get the ball down. We coach them to play. We coach them to get the ball wide and get crosses in the box. I didn’t see any of that from my team today. We were not at the races.
“Having said that, when you go 1-0 up and you’re not having a good day or able to string passes together, you use your head, make better decisions and get up against your man and make sure he doesn’t have a good day either.
“We used to call it spoiling the game. But we didn’t do that either and it was a poor day at the office.”
Mansfield were deservedly ahead after 20 minutes as a corner was pulled back deep to Ollie Clarke, who sent Harry Charsley to the byline to cross for Rollin Menayese to turn the ball home.
But when Marek Stech failed to claim a 40th-minute corner, Rory McArdle was able to head home off Mansfield defender Farrend Rawson.
Stech saved superbly from Randell Williams but was helpless in the 76th minute as Stags failed to clear another corner and Josh Key was able to head high into the net for his first English Football League goal.
Grecians’ boss Matt Taylor said: “I was delighted with our response to going behind.
“They were probably two of the scruffiest goals we’ve scored in a long time in my reign as manager but they were as beautiful as any passing move.
“Some of the players are still searching for their rhythm which may be down to not having a long enough pre-season.
“It was a tough start to the game with the wind against us and the ball bouncing around.
“We had to get a foothold in the game and earn possession and the right to play.
“I was really pleased with the way we built the performance today. We got better as the game went on, though we didn’t create enough clear cut chances in the second half.
“We are still building and working towards where we want to get to. But we moved a step closer to it today.”
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