Stags’ second-string lose in final game of the campaign.Gateshead scored twice in the final few minutes to consign our second-string to a 2-1 defeat in the last match of the campaign in the Final Third Development League (North/East Division).
Liam Hearn opened the scoring with a 70th minute spot-kick, before late goals by Dillon Morse and Tom Marshall earned the visitors a comeback victory.
There was personal disappointment for young defender Corbin Shires, who sustained a knee injury midway through the first half.
On a cool afternoon in North Nottinghamshire, both sides started the game at a steady pace, but neither looked particularly threatening during the first quarter-of-an-hour or so.
The Stags, attacking towards the North Stand, went close on 19 minutes when Anthony Dwyer and Louis Danquah combined on the left-wing, with the latter delivering a teasing ball towards the near-post, which was turned wide by a defender before the advancing Dan Fletcher could get there.
Gateshead gradually stepped things up as the half progressed and soon won a free-kick right on the edge of the area, but Tom Allan’s strike failed to test ‘keeper Frazer Hampson as the ball hit Danquah in the three-man defensive wall.
Mechack Kanda then headed over following a corner, before Hampson produced a fabulous low save to keep out a 20-yard attempt by Ryan Drane on the half-hour mark.
The 17-year-old commanded his penalty area with good authority during the first half, which restricted the visitors’ threat. Drane let fly with an audacious effort from distance on 35 minutes, but it cleared the upright.
The Stags were again indebted to their young ‘keeper for keeping them on level terms, as he got down well to smother a low shot by Liam Thear, when he latched onto a through pass.
Although the game wasn’t a particularly physical contest, Mansfield were soon dealt a heavy blow as youngster Corbin Shires sustained a nasty cut to his knee following a 50/50 challenge on halfway.
Shires immediately clenched his fist in agony and required lengthy treatment. Eventually, he limped back to the dressing room and Jack Hutchinson took his place.
When play resumed, Kanda squandered a good opportunity – hammering a shot high into the Quarry Lane End from five yards out, having got on the end of a ball forwards.
Mansfield had the last chance of the first half during two minutes of injury-time. Hearn got up well to meet a Rory Thomson corner, but his headed effort cleared the upright.
Gateshead continued to look strong after the re-start, however, and they were unlucky not to take the lead when a low drive by Dean Briggs went wide, via the post.
Some good defending by Chris Spencer then foiled substitute Matty Briggs a few minutes later – with an eventual six-yard shot from the Tynesiders’ player catching a deflection to hit the side-netting.
The Stags carved out an opening of their own close to the hour mark. Trialist Lyle Della Verde played a good ball through towards an advancing Hearn, who fired over from the edge of the area.
Mansfield began to grow in confidence and almost caught their opponents on the break on 65 minutes. This time, Anthony Dwyer broke away following a poorly taken free-kick by Dean Briggs and his pass inside found Della Verde, who looked up and unleashed a swerving strike, which had to be palmed wide.
From the subsequent corner, there was a mass goalmouth scramble. Hearn knocked the ball down from Thomson’s teasing delivery and after Dillon Morse only partially cleared the danger, substitute Luke Thomas had a strike blocked, before the visitors eventually cleared their lines.
Gateshead’s joy was short-lived though, because just five minutes later, Mansfield took the lead.
Winger Louis Danquah drew a poor challenge inside the area, which left the referee with absolutely no option other than to point to the penalty spot, and Hearn stepped up and hammered a powerful effort into the top corner – giving ‘keeper Alex Baird absolutely no chance.
Baird’s day turned from bad to worse, because less than two minutes later he needlessly shouted abuse towards the referee – the result of which saw him receive a straight red card.
Despite an extra-man advantage, the Tynesiders got back on level terms with four minutes remaining. Dean Briggs floated a free-kick towards the back-post and an unmarked Morse ghosted in to head past Hampson.
The visitors almost completed a surprise turnaround in the dying seconds when Matty Briggs found himself with time and space inside the area, but the best he could do was rattle the left-hand post.
However, deep into injury-time, Gateshead snatched the victory. Ryan Wilson picked the pocket of Della Verde and broke away on the counter-attack, before he squared a simple pass to Tom Marshall, who finished with aplomb.