Calum Patton’s late winner consigned Andy Todd’s reserve side to a narrow 2-1 defeat in our final Central League fixture of the season at Gateshead.
Patton curled home a free-kick with just five minutes remaining to seal a hard-fought three points for the Tynesiders, against a youthful Stags second-string.
Talisman Joe Flint had earlier cancelled out Michael Sweet’s opener for Gateshead with a well-placed set-piece strike, before Patton struck in the dying exchanges.
Despite Sweet and team-mate Callum Hope going close for the hosts early on, Mansfield’s first chance arrived when Ross Lamb was denied by Jordan Nixon on the quarter-hour mark.
At the other end, Patton brilliantly spun away from Ben Birch inside the area but fired narrowly wide, whilst Sweet and Hope were both off-target with further attempts.
The Stags almost went ahead midway through the first period when Lamb saw a far-post shot bravely blocked by Curtis Coppen, following some brilliant work by Liam Marsden.
Marsden also caused havoc with a teasing long-throw deep into the six-yard box, which saw custodian Nixon react instinctively to keep out Matt Harris’ powerful low drive.
Jack Hawkins’ goal-line clearance prevented Coppen from nodding the hosts ahead, as despite an entertaining first period; scores were level at the half-time interval.
However, Gateshead broke the deadlock shortly after the re-start.
Hope and Luke Carr combined on the left flank, with the latter delivering a low ball through the six-yard box towards an unmarked Sweet, who calmly tucked away his shot.
Matters almost became worse on 62 minutes when David Luke’s teasing back-post cross nearly found the net, with Keiran Coupe forced to act quickly under pressure.
In what was fast-becoming an end-to-end encounter, Mansfield soon went close as another pinpoint pass from Marsden released Harris, who was denied by an out-rushing Nixon.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t long until the visitors eventually levelled.
Jack Lilley’s untidy lunge on Stags skipper Jack Thomas allowed Flint to slip a low 25-yard free-kick under a five-man defensive wall and beyond a static Nixon.
Harris went close to giving our youngsters the lead when he expertly charged down a routine goal-kick, which forced the Tynesiders ‘keeper to rush back to prevent a disaster.
Gateshead pressed forwards more in the latter exchanges, and lively striker Patton drew a smart low stop from Ryan Hopkins and also forced Birch into a brave last-ditch block.
Only five minutes were left though, when Patton struck what proved to be the winner.
Dean Robinson’s foul on Patton on the cusp of the area, allowed the Tynesiders man to step up and fire a low free-kick beyond a full-stretch Hopkins into the bottom-left corner.
Team: Hopkins, Simpson, Coupe (J.Jones), Birch, Robinson, Marsden, Thomas (c), Hawkins, Flint, Harris, Lamb (M.Jones). Unused Subs: Fell, Ganyiwa, McAllister.