Joshua Scott's late penalty earned a point for Stags' under-18s in a highly-entertaining Youth Alliance Cup clash against Carlisle United on Friday evening.
After falling behind inside ten minutes at The RH Academy, the young guns fought back to lead thanks to goals from Arun Jones and Ryan Ingram.
The Cumbrians hit back though and took a second-half lead. It looked like Mansfield would be condemned to defeat, until Scott stepped up to rescue a point from the penalty spot with three minutes remaining.
The hosts had the first opportunity after two minutes. From a Carlisle corner, the Stags broke as Rio Molyneaux powered down the right flank.
The winger cut the ball back to Ingram, but the striker couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball as it was scrambled away by Elliot Day.
Down the other end, Jamie Boyle was forced into a save after Jack Ellis slipped the ball through to Kyle Soper. With the forward bearing down on goal, the Stags’ stopper did well to keep out his deflected effort.
The amber and blue went close on nine minutes, when Scott diverted Jones’ set piece over the bar.
In an open first period, it was the Cumbrians who opened the scoring with nine minutes played, when Keelan Leslie found DJ Taylor, who drilled a low shot past Boyle from 25 yards.
The home side went searching for an equaliser and very nearly had it when Ingram saw his effort saved by Gabrial Breeze.
Mansfield had responded well to the early setback and equalised on 15 minutes. After sustained pressure, Jones headed home a cross from the left side.
Stags were given the chance to turn the game on its head two minutes later, when the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Ingram. Scott saw his spot-kick saved, but Ingram arrived to fire in the rebound.
Moments later, he almost extended the lead further, but the forward could only head wide from Jones’ pinpoint freekick delivery.
Visiting goal-scorer Taylor then tried his luck from a similar range on 25 minutes, this time though, Boyle was equal to it as he palmed his drive away for a corner.
On the half-hour mark, Mansfield went close again. Jones and Molyneaux combined to great effect down the right, with the latter picking out Scott with a cross, but he could only direct his powerful effort over the bar.
The striker went close again shortly after, when Saunders picked him out with another excellent cross. Scott did well to brush off the challenge of the defender but unfortunately, he couldn’t find the target with his header.
The visitors equalised six minutes from the break, as Taylor scored his second goal of the contest. The winger cut inside from the left and again found the bottom corner with a fine long-range strike.
The Cumbrians squandered a glorious chance to go into the break ahead when Jack Ellis arrived at the back post to meet Lewis Rocks’ corner. He couldn’t keep his effort down though, as it cleared the crossbar.
Carlisle began the second half as they’d ended the first and were rewarded for their pressure when substitute Jamie Armstrong drilled home to put them back in front after 57 minutes.
The Stags responded through Molyneaux, who tested Breeze with a cross-cum-shot on the hour-mark after a good team move.
Jones had been a threat from set-pieces all evening and he found a team mate once again on 68 minutes. This time, George Cooper beat his man and was unlucky to see his header fly over.
With a quarter of the game remaining, the home side forced a corner and after some pinball in the opposition box the ball broke to Molyneaux, who couldn’t keep his shot down as it sailed over the bar.
The hosts were pushing for a leveller but were struggling to test the opposition goalkeeper, however with three minutes left, they were handed the opportunity to salvage a draw.
Molyneaux was too quick for Roan Steele who hacked him down in the box to concede another penalty.
Having had his initial spot-kick saved, Scott made no mistake this time as he fired home emphatically to level the contest.
Both sides had opportunities in the dying embers of the match to take three points. Kyle Soper went close for the visitors as his rasping 25-yard effort cleared the post.
Stags nearly won it deep into injury time when Molyneaux sent in a low cross which evaded everyone before trickling out of play.
The referee ended the affair shortly after, with the sides sharing the points in an entertaining clash at the RH Academy.
STAGS XI: Boyle, Sadler (Fisher 64’), Sketchley, Tomlin, Armsden, Cooper, Ingram (Dean 81’), Saunders, Scott, Jones, Molyneaux.
UNUSED: Phillips, Adams, Caine.
Carlisle United XI: Breeze, Steele, Leslie, Walton, Ligutfoot, Day, Rooks, Ellis, Soper, Swailes, Taylor.
SUBS: Birch, Cuartors, Bell, Armstrong, Robinson.