AFC were unfortunate not to come away with a result as ten-man promotion chasers Grimsby battled hard for all three points.
A well contested first half could have seen either side go ahead, but a Josh Sunter header ensured the Wilderness Boys would have the half-time advantage.
A red card for the hosts early in the second half then opened up the tie, but the Bulls couldn't find that much-needed goal.
A bright opening period for the hosts saw a chance open early on for midfielder Josh Venney, who was denied expertly by a low diving save from Hugo Warhurst at close range.
The Bulls too were creating chances, and Luke Walker was unlucky not to open the scoring when he skipped past two defenders before Scott Drury made himself big enough to keep the ball out.
Shortly after Warhurst was again called to the rescue with an inspiring scrambling save with his feet, Ross Duggan too was denied one-on-one after being neatly fed through on the left channel.
Grant Ryan had come on for the injured Jack Warner after just six minutes of play, and he almost netted his first Bulls goal from a lofted Buxton corner, but he saw his header cleared off the line.
Moments after Nicky Darker's headed clearance almost rippled his own net, the hosts were ahead when Josh Sunter flicked the subsequent corner into the far corner from the front post.
The Bulls were unlucky to be behind at the interval, and again were harshly denied when Drury did brilliantly to turn Duggan's sweetly hit volley around his back post.
With ten minutes of second-half football played, the game well and truly opened up as Grimsby's Callum Lovett pulled Ryan back on the edge of his own area - as the last man, Lovett was shown a straight red card.
As Duggan curled the consequent free-kick inches over the crossbar, the Bulls were in the ascendancy, but the hosts remained dangerous on the break and Warhurst had to stretch to his limits to superbly palm Winfarrah's looping effort over his crossbar.
The poor luck Matt Chatfield's side were suffering began to show more and more, with Jordan Annable's point-blank header somehow being kept out by Drury.
As the tie was heading into its closing stages, Luke Walker cleared a key chance well over the bar as the striker was set up nicely inside the penalty area by Duggan, who himself came agonisingly close only minutes later after skipping past three defenders before driving the ball just over.
Full-back Harrison, who was making his full Bulls debut, was then sent for a slightly early shower as a late challenge warranted a second yellow card, and the game ended ten-a-side.
The Bulls remain third bottom in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division, with a trip to Goole next up on Tuesday night.
Final score | Grimsby Borough 1-0 AFC Mansfield
Scorers | Sunter (37')
Grimsby Borough XI | Drury, Jameson, Winfarrah, Lovett, Higton, Sunter (Bemrose 66'), Drury, Venney, Trott, Debnam (C), Dean-Atkinson
Unused subs | Petronzio, Briggs, Grant, Bradbury
Yellow cards | Drury (63')
Red cards | Lovett (55')
Bulls XI | Warhurst (GK), Harrison, Slone (Matthews 83'), Darker, Annable, Hough, Walker, Buxton (C), Duggan, Warner (Ryan 7'), Webster
Unused subs | Mears, Stancliffe (GK), Parkin (GK)
Yellow cards | Harrison (41'), Slone (70')
Red cards | Harrison (89')
Man of the Match | Phil Buxton
Attendance | TBC