Mansfield Town under-18s booked their place in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup after a dramatic comeback against Queens Park Rangers.
It looked like the Championship outfit had stolen victory against the run of play, with a late sucker-punch one minute from time.
But the Stags refused to be beaten as Kyle Tomlin equalised with a sensational 40-yard-strike in fourth minute of added time.
The young guns completed the turn-around inside the opening five minutes of extra-time. An own goal from Kayden Harrack put Mansfield ahead before Jimmy Knowles sealed the victory just two minutes later.
In a quiet opening five minutes it was the Stags who forced the first opportunity of the game. After some good team pressing, Shamar Lawson took a strike at goal, but he saw his effort blocked on the edge of the area.
On seven minutes, Knowles was fouled 35 yards from goal and Ethan Hill stepped up, but his free kick was hit straight down Max Little’s throat.
Rangers’ first real opportunity came on 18 minutes. Lemar Griffiths danced his wide down the right flank but couldn’t find the head of Hamzad Kargbo.
Down the other end, the Stags went close through Knowles. The forward showed some spectacular footwork to weave clear of two defenders before cutting-inside and curling his effort agonisingly over the bar.
QPR thought they’d opened the scoring moments later, when Kargbo headed the ball across for Griffiths who tapped into an empty net. Thankfully for the Stags, the assistant had spotted the striker was offside.
On 28 minutes, the duo combined again. This time Griffiths turned provider but Kargbo glanced wide of Campbell’s goal from close range.
Two minutes later, it was the amber and blue’s turn to threaten. Again, Knowles did well to carve out an opportunity, but his thunderous drive was met with a timely block from a QPR defender.
With just over ten minutes to the break, Rangers should have been ahead. A good move eventually saw Arkell Jude-Boyd pick out Stathis Kalathias in a pocket of space, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his volley down.
Mansfield countered and were a whisker away from taking the lead themselves. Rio Molyneaux knocked the ball past the defender and saw his shot whistle past the post.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with both teams cancelling each other out in a scrappy affair. The first opportunity of the period fell to the visitors when Armelindo Mema was fouled outside the box, but Jude-Boyd saw his effort cannon off the wall.
Ethan Hill went close for the Stags just before the hour-mark. The midfielder combined with Knowles before trying his luck from distance, but his effort was too high to test Little.
With 18 minutes ago, Knowles again went close, powering past his marker before firing low at Little, but the R’s ‘keeper was equal to]o it.
Seconds later and the amber and blue were inches away from the opening goal. Lawson spun in the area and rocketed a powerful effort which struck the crossbar before bouncing on the line and away to safety. The young guns had the ball in the net shortly after, but the referee had spotted a handball and ruled the goal out.
With the Stags on top, only some frantic last-ditch defending from QPR kept parity. Cooper, Scott and Knowles all saw strikes blocked before the visitors scrambled the ball to safety.
Mansfield were relentless in their pursuit of the opening goal. Tomlin found himself with time and space after a well-worked throw-in but couldn’t find the target from distance.
With five minutes to go, Rangers made a rare venture into the hosts’ half and almost took the lead against the run of play. Mema broke clear of Ben Bayliss down the left and picked out Kargbo but he was denied by a heroic block from Kian Sketchley.
With just a minute of normal time remaining, it looked like QPR had stolen it in dramatic fashion. Kargbo won the ball from Nathan Saunders on the edge of the box and fired empathically into the roof of the goal.
But the young guns refused to be beaten and showed incredible spirit to battle their way back to deservedly take the game to extra time.
With virtually the last kick, Tomlin tried an audacious 40-yard effort which looped over Little to spark wild scenes of celebration.
The momentum had clearly swung the way of the Stags and three minutes into extra-time they found themselves in front. Molyneaux powered his way down the line and put in a wicked cross which Harrack diverted into his own goal.
Moments later, Mansfield struck again. Once more, Molyneaux was the provider as he picked out Knowles and despite getting something on it, Little couldn’t keep his effort out.
The amber and blue weren’t finished. Scott latched onto a sublime pass from Hill but could only volley over from distance.
There was more drama to follow as Ingram and Jude-Boyd were both shown red cards following an off-the-ball altercation on 99 minutes.
QPR were throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to get themselves back into the contest and this left them vulnerable to the counter-attack.
Hill picked up the ball from the visitor’s corner and drove the full length of the pitch before cutting the ball back to Knowles but Little managed to parry his low strike away to safety.
The Stags looked to extend their lead further and almost did so in the 109th minute. Knowles created an opening for himself but could only find the side netting from a narrow angle.
Sketchley made a timely intervention two minutes later to maintain his side’s two-goal-cushion, deflecting Kargbo’s drive away for a corner. The resulting set-piece was cleared out of harm’s way.
The visitors pushed for a way back into the game, but the Stags defended resolutely to secure their place in the next round.
STAGS XI: Campbell (GK), Bayliss, Sketchley, Tomlin, Cooper, Saunders, Molyneaux (Caine 106’), Hill, Scott (King 120’), Knowles, Lawson (Ingram 90’).
UNUSED SUBS: Boyle (GK), Fisher, Adams, Jones.
QPR XI: Little (GK), McLean, Paiva, Kalathias (Cotter 53’), Mahron, Harrack, Griffiths (Eze 84’), Jude-Boyd, Kargbo, Aoraha (Gordon 109’), Mema.
UNUSED SUBS: Middlehurst (GK).
REFEREE: Luke Watson.
ASSISTANTS: Daniel Tracey, Sam Wright.