Report: Mansfield 1-1 CheltenhamOn loan striker Vadaine Oliver continued his good recent goalscoring form with a fine strike in a 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town.
After recently extending his loan deal with the club until mid-January, his spectacular strike opened the scoring for the hosts.
However, yet another brilliant finish, this time from substitute Zack Kotwica, levelled the tie in the 88th minute.
Adam Murray was managing his first home game since being appointed as the Stags’ new permanent boss, but in the early stages it was Cheltenham who had the first half-attempts, with their talisman Bryon Harrison seeing his shot go wide of the goal.
Mansfield’s Junior Brown, making his home league debut, was threatening down the left flank with some useful crosses that couldn’t be converted.
Cheltenham won their first corner of the match on the 24th minute, but just like their opponents failed to make a clear opportunity.
As the first half developed, both sides began to create some half-chances – the best for Mansfield was a low driving shot from Chris Clements, which was gathered by Trevor Carson.
The Stags further came close moments later when a Junior Brown cross was on course to be headed in by the arriving Vadaine Oliver, however a good defensive header from full-back Craig Braham-Barrett forced the ball out for a corner.
A spell of sustained pressure from Mansfield saw them win several corners, but they were unable to create any clear-cut chances from them.
The first booking of the game happened on the 42nd minute when an encouraging run from Fergus Bell, resulted in defender Matt Taylor cynically fouling him.
Both sides were limited to set for the most of the half and neither side managed to amount anything that really troubled either goalkeeper.
Nevertheless, it was Cheltenham who ended the half the strongest with some dangerous attempts at the Mansfield goal.
Kane Ferdinand came closest when he was denied twice inside the 18-yard box - firstly a smart save by Dimitar Evtimov, which was followed up by a goal-line clearance from Luke Waterfall.
It was Ferdinand yet again on the stroke of half-time, who managed to get beyond Kieron Freeman and his half-volley attempt was parried away for a corner.
The teams came out for the second half and Lee Beevers replaced Kieron Freeman for the home side.
The hosts appealed for a penalty early moments after the re-start when Fergus Bell burst in to the box and went shoulder to shoulder with a defender, but there was no decision from the referee.
Junior Brown managed to get clear in the box and his shot was deflected over for a corner. From the resulting delivery, Vadaine Oliver managed to peel away from his defensive marker, but his header flew over the crossbar.
The striker was to redeem himself for that miss shortly after, when, in the 55th minute, he produced a spectacular finish from 25 yards out – turning Troy Brown and unleashing a precise floated effort into the net.
The Robins looked to respond instantly and they were presented with the chance of a free-kick 20 yards out when Chris Clements collided with a player in a dangerous position.
From the resulting free-kick, Matt Richards bent a shot over the wall, but it was an easy save to make for Dimitar Evtimov.
In the 63rd minute, Brown chipped it to the far post and it was cleared away for a corner by the Robins full-back.
Cheltenham made a double substitution in an attempt to find an equaliser as Andy Haworth and Omari Sterling-James replaced Raffaele De Vita and Matt Richards respectively.
The Stags still threatened to get a second, most noticeably in the 71st minute Simon Heslop was teed up by Oliver, but his shot fired wide of the post.
Minutes later Cheltenham made their last available substitute as Zack Kotwica replaced Bryon Harrison.
As the Robins pressed in the closing stages of the game, Luke Waterfall was yellow carded for a pull of the shirt to break up a counter-attack in the 77th minute.
Mansfield then made their second substitution when Rob Taylor replaced Reggie Lambe.
With Cheltenham unable to break down the solid defensive unit, Terry Gornell was booked for a mistimed tackle on Fergus Bell.
Eventually, just when a Stags win was looking likely, Cheltenham managed to equalise and it took a remarkable strike from substitute Kotwica, who on the half-volley fired a shot into the top corner.
The Stags immediately made their final substitution with Rakish Bingham coming on for Fergus Bell.
In four minutes of added time, Adam Murray’s team survived a real scare as Ryan Tafazolli brought down his marker, who appeared to be the last man, but the defender escaped with a yellow card and it presented the visitors with a dangerous looking free-kick in the semi-circle on the edge of the area.
However, neither side managed to get a late winner and both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils.