Report: Stags 2-2 Pompey
Lindon Meikle’s equaliser earned Mansfield Town a deserved point from a rip-roaring clash with Portsmouth at One Call Stadium.
Ben Hutchinson’s stunning volley put The Stags ahead, before Andy Barcham levelled for the visitors with a crisp finish on 39 minutes.
Pompey led 2-1 at the break thanks to a poachers strike by David Connolly, but Meikle’s late leveller earned the spirited hosts a deserved point.
Both teams drop a place in the League Two table as a result of the draw.
Mansfield were forced to defend from the outset as Portsmouth made a bright start and enjoyed a series of early set-pieces.
In just the second minute, Jed Wallace volleyed wide following a right-sided corner, before Patrick Agyemang was off-target with a scuffed low shot.
The Stags had their first flag-kick on eight minutes when Calvin Andrew’s 20-yard was deflected over, but Chris Clements’ subsequent delivery was cleared.
Sam Clucas almost capitalised on Joe Devera’s poor backwards header moments later, but Pompey custodian Phil Smith managed to claim the ball.
Backed by a vociferous and optimistic home crowd, The Stags began to up the ante and came close again on the quarter hour-mark.
Andrew held up play brilliantly inside the area and fed a simple pass to an unmarked James Jennings, who screwed his shot straight at Smith.
Mansfield looked threatening at set-plays, but Portsmouth also showed plenty of attacking impetus and went close again midway through the first half.
Connolly was denied an opener by a last-ditch intervention from Ritchie Sutton, but struck the post seconds later with an effort from a tight angle.
The momentum of a rip-roaring first period constantly swung to-and-forth, and it was Mansfield, who eventually broke the deadlock in stunning circumstances.
A loose ball dropped to Hutchinson around 25-yards out, and in simply exquisite style, the frontman unleashed a venomous volley, which flew into the net.
Having finally made a breakthrough against their more illustrious opponents, The Stags had plenty of possession as they quickly sought to add a second.
But The Stags’ lead lasted just six minutes, as Portsmouth levelled on 39 minutes.
In a fast-paced, attacking move, Agyemang linked up with Wallace on the left flank, whose simple cut-back at the by-line was emphatically fired home by Barcham.
And Pompey, who last won away in March, quickly completed a turnaround, to lead at the interval.
Barcham carved his way through the middle and although his angled effort was kept out by Marriott, Connolly pounced on the re-bound to put Pompey ahead.
The Stags nearly levelled immediately after the re-start as Hutchinson fired over under pressure from Pompey shot-stopper Smith.
On 49 minutes, Pompey could have doubled their lead could have scored again, but Connolly wasted a centrally-positioned 20-yard free-kick.
Ollie Palmer replaced Clucas soon afterwards in an attacking substitution, which saw the hosts change to a three-pronged frontline.
The Stags continued to pressurise Pompey and only a smart low save by Smith denied Jamie McGuire an equaliser, after his shot evaded everyone inside a packed area.
Prior to being replaced by Matt Rhead on 63 minutes, Andrew also had a case for a penalty dismissed, after he was pulled to the floor by Sonny Bradley.
The Stags received a set-back midway through the second half, as Lee Beevers left the pitch in evident pain following an innocuous collision.
His replacement, Meikle, made a near-immediate impact, however, as he drew The Stags level within five minutes of his introduced.
The Stags’ three substitutes combined as Palmer did brilliantly to firstly keep the ball in play, and then pick out Rhead with a right-sided cross into the area.
And although Rhead’s attempt was drifting wide of Smith’s left-hand post, Meikle was in the perfect place to stab the ball into the net.
The equaliser was nothing short of what Mansfield deserved as their endeavour and spirit, completely out-weighed that of Portsmouth.
In the closing stages, The Stags pressed forward for a winner at regular intervals.
Clements curled an ambitious 20-yard wide on 80 minutes, before the lively Meikle cut-inside and was denied by Smith.
Attendance: 4,577 (1,005 away supporters).