Ten-man Mansfield were made to settle for a point as Crewe came from behind to salvage a draw in an action-packed opening day encounter at Mornflake Stadium.
Stags started the new season like a steam train and Davis Keillor-Dunn hit a quickfire double within the space of four first-half minutes to put Mansfield in the box seat.
And despite a dominant first half from Nigel Clough’s men, Crewe’s Mickey Demetrio pulled one back on 32 minutes to inject belief and confidence into Lee Bell’s side.
Then came a game-turning moment just shy of the hour when Calum Macdonald was shown a straight red for a late tackle, while moments later, Rio Adebisi headed Crewe level.
Three of Stags’ summer signings, defenders Calum Macdonald and Baily Cargill, along with midfielder Aaron Lewis, were handed debuts.
Marquee addition Adam Flint – the vastly experienced centre-half who signed on Thursday – was amongst the substitutes.
Seasoned campaigner Stephen Quinn made his 100th EFL appearance for the club. And it was he who ignited Stags’ first goalscoring opportunity after two minutes.
The Irishman – midway inside the home half - squared to Davis Keillor-Dunn who managed to find Oates, and after driving forward, the frontman lashed high and wide from the edge of the box.
Stags were in again on the seventh minute.
Crewe goalkeeper Harvey Davies made a mess of his clearance and could only find Stags’ midfielder Stephen Quinn 35 yards from goal. And after again picking out Keillor-Dunn, the diminutive attacking midfielder twisted and turned inside the box but his low effort was comfortably claimed by Davies.
Stags were showing real early intent and had Crewe pinned inside their own half.
The Alex carved out their first chance of note on 18 minutes. Midfielder Chris Long was allowed to drive forward before striking well wide from outside the area.
Stags’ midfielder then Louis Reed conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but the effort from Jack Powell was hammered into the defensive wall.
For all their attacking intent, Mansfield deservedly broke the deadlock midway through the first-half.
Oates found Davis Keillor-Dunn inside the box who showed fine vision and composure to pick his spot, slotting low into the bottom left-hand corner.
And only four minutes later, Keillor-Dunn again crushed Crewe hearts by doubling Stags’ advantage.
Quinn this time assisted with a pass into the D, and Keillor-Dunn did the rest with another brilliant low strike - this time from 18 yards.
And Keillor-Dunn should have had a hat-trick on 29 minutes when he struck low into the palms of Davies. And just shy of the half-hour mark, Akins too tested the goalie’s palms, with a similar drive from the right side of the box.
But Crewe pulled one back against the run of play on 32 minutes from a corner.
Mickey Demetriou was first to react from eight yards as he turned to slot into the right-hand corner.
Now playing with a new-found belief, Crewe’s Joel Tabiner curled a 25-yard free-kick over the bar.
At the other end, Oates twisted one way and the other before seeing his powerful effort denied by the palms of Davies from an acute angle.
And in the first of eight minutes of added time at the end of the half, Long went close with a left-footed effort, which Pym turned behind with the aid of a deflection.
The hosts began to grow in confidence and Long came even closer two minutes later when he whipped a left-footed attempt onto Stags’ crossbar.
Davis Keillor-Dunn continued his role as Stags’ tormenter-in-chief when he struck the upright four minutes after half-time. Quinn again provided as the former Burton man smacked against the right-hand post from ten yards.
Stags’ commanding centre-half Alfie Kilgour got in on the shooting act, as he blazed off target from 15 yards following a Mansfield free-kick.
But Stags were reduced to ten men on 58 minutes when Calum Macdonald was shown a debatable straight red card for a late challenge on Rio Adebisi.
Before the restart, Aden Flint took the place of Keillor-Dunn.
And then moments later following a free-kick, Rio Adebisi rose highest to nod home inside the box from a right-flank cross to equalise for Mansfield.
In a bid to regain the lead, Quinn crossed for Oates to nod over from 12 yards after 68 minutes.
Stags survived a scare on 74 minutes when Shilo Tracey broke the offside trap, only to skew his shot well off target from the left of the box.
Manager Nigel Clough made a double change a minute later as midfielders George Maris and Hiram Boateng replaced Aaron Lewis and Stephen Quinn.
And on 79, Boateng whipped a low effort into the grasp of Davies from the edge of the box.
Akins almost put Stags back in front a minute later with a mesmerising twist and turn on the left of the box, but his eventual strike clipped Oates and flew behind.
Oates himself almost found the net on 83, when he weaved his way between two defenders, but goalkeeper Davies acquired the slightest of touches to divert it behind for a corner.
James Gale replaced Rhys Oates in attack in the 93rd minute, before the referee called time on a pulsating opening day contest six minutes later.
CREWE: Davies, Adebisi, Williams (Cooney 81), Demetriou, Offord, Long, Thomas, Tracey, Tabiner, Nevitt (Baker-Richardson 70), Powell (Holicek 81)
UNUSED SUBS: Booth, O’Riordan, Lunt, Billington
STAGS: Pym, Johnson, Kilgour, Cargill, Macdonald, Reed, Lewis (Maris 75), Quinn (Boateng 75), Keillor-Dunn (Flint 60), Oates (Gale 90+3), Akins
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Hartigan, Bowery
REFEREE: Ben Atkinson
ATTENDANCE: 5,574 (1,660 Stags' supporters)