Mansfield Town were denied a deserved victory against Northampton Town, who scored an injury-time equaliser in today’s Sky Bet League Two match at One Call Stadium.
The Stags looked set to pick up a win thanks to Vadaine Oliver’s opener just after half-time, but deep into stoppage-time Marc Richards converted from 12 yards after Ivan Toney was judged to have been fouled by Junior Brown.
Northampton played for almost an hour with 10 men as John-Joe O’Toole was shown a straight red card on what the Cobblers fans dubbed ‘John-Joe O’Toole’ day.
Mansfield manager Adam Murray made four changes in total after Tuesday’s loss to Morecambe. Brown and Martin Riley came back into the starting line-up alongside midfielder Jack Thomas, who made his starting debut. Ricky Ravenhill returned from injury to wear the captain’s armband.
The match started evenly. Northampton were able to forge a good opportunity down the right hand side in the fifth minute as Lawson D’Ath played a cross in, only for it to be cleared by Ravenhill.
Mansfield found themselves in on goal shortly after when Oliver played a superb back-heel to Simon Heslop who shot viscously towards goal. Northampton goalkeeper Matt Duke was able to save well to his right. Immediately afterwards, Brown was denied a penalty after he went down in the penalty area.
The Cobblers had the next opportunity of the match as a quick Brendan Moloney throw sent Ricky Holmes running through the middle. Holmes’ shot from distance to force Lenny Pidgeley into a comfortable save and could only find the side-netting from his follow-up shot.
Ravenhill was the first player to be cautioned after his late challenge on Holmes in the 20th minute.
After some promising build up play, Mansfield did well to win the ball back in the final third after some good recovery work from Ritchie Sutton. Heslop received the ball after it rebounded off a Northampton player, but his short was blocked. Heslop had another chance shortly after when the ball eventually fell to him off a Brown cross that was headed down by Oliver, but he could not find the target
Jason Taylor was the first Northampton player to be cautioned after a reckless challenge in the middle of the field.
The Stags had a good opportunity on the half-hour mark when they were awarded a free-kick after Joel Byrom fouled Thomas. Heslop took the set-piece with his right foot and hit the crossbar.
As the Stags continued to build significant momentum, Oliver received the ball after a long-kick downfield by Pidgeley. The striker shot narrowly wide across the face of goal.
Northampton were then reduced to 10-men in the 36th minute when O’Toole was shown a red card after he came together with a Mansfield player in an off-the-ball incident.
In what was a physical battle in the first half, a player from each team was then cautioned in the build up to half-time.
As the first half entered into stoppage-time, an energetic Reggie Lambe found himself with good space on the edge of the penalty area. His shot went comfortably into the waiting arms of Duke.
The first half finished with the scores still locked at 0-0.
Mansfield started the second half very strongly and broke the deadlock in the 48th minute. A well-placed cross from the right side by Lee Beevers found Oliver in the penalty area. He was able to beat his opponent and fire home from close range.
Northampton almost found an equaliser after a Lawson D’Ath corner found Taylor who hit his header firmly across the crossbar.
A fluent Mansfield has another chance when they broke away in the 55th minute after a long-range pass by Thomas found Oliver who was unable to get his shot away.
Northampton’s discipline was faulted again when Byrom was cautioned after a late challenge on Riley in the 60th minute.
Thomas received the next caution of the match in the 71st minute after bringing down a Northampton player in the middle of the field.
After a positive spell of possession, the Cobblers had a good chance after D’Ath did well to get a shot away, only to be denied by a brilliant block by Tafazolli at the last moment.
Stags boss Adam Murray was the first to make a substitution, bringing on the attacking option of Rakish Bingham in place of Jack Thomas.
The Stags had another player cautioned as they looked to hold onto their lead. Heslop broke up a promising attack by fouling Byrom.
Northampton made their first substitution in the 82nd minute when Toney came on to replace defender Lee Collins.
Mansfield had to defend consummately late in the second half after the Cobblers threatened the home side’s goal. After receiving a free kick in a promising position, Marc Richards’ curling free-kick forced a confident save by Pidgeley.
The experienced Adam Murray came on for Reggie Lambe in the 86th minute in an attempt to see of the game for the Stags.
After probing for most of the second half, Northampton earned a life-line when they won a late penalty after Brown brought down Toney. Richards stepped up to the spot and fired his penalty down the middle, leaving Pidgeley with no chance.
Attendance: 4,614 (1,210 away supporters).