Christmas came early for Mansfield Town this afternoon as striker Danny Rose's 88th minute header sealed a 2-1 win against Morecambe at One Call Stadium.
Mansfield went into the break 1-0 to the good after Kane Hemmings broke the deadlock in the eighth minute. On his return to the team, the striker hit a terrific finish into the corner of the net after meeting Danny Rose's flick on and advancing into space on the edge of the box.
That Stags' advantage lasted only six minutes of the second half, as Morecambe frontman Callum Lang beat goalkeeper Conrad Logan with an effort across goal after he had worked his way into the area.
It remained 1-1 until the 88th minute when top scorer Danny Rose thumped a header into the roof of the net to put the Stags back in front and score what turned out to be the winner.
Manager Steve Evans made four changes to the eleven which played against Yeovil Town last week. Midfield pairing Paul Digby and Calum Butcher returned to the starting line-up, as did flying winger CJ Hamilton. Up front, there was a welcome return for hit man Kane Hemmings who had been missing recently due to a calf injury.
Mansfield started brightly but it was the visitors who had the opening chance inside the third minute. Striker Adam Campbell saw his initial effort blocked by Stags' left-back Mal Benning, before he picked up the rebound and dragged a shot wide of the upright.
A minute later, Mansfield almost opened the scoring. Right-back Hayden White saw his attempted cross flicked to the back post off a Morecambe head but winger CJ Hamilton couldn't direct his volley on target and it found the side-netting.
Morecambe weren't looking like a side that were 20th in League Two and Mansfield 'keeper Conrad Logan made two crucial saves in quick succession to deny the Shrimps. He first made himself big to deny Luke Conlan after the Morecambe man was found in space and from the following corner, the former Hibernian shotstopper got down well to meet a thumping header.
The visitors were punished for missing those chances when Mansfield took the lead in the eighth minute. Oxford United loanee Kane Hemmings ran into space after latching onto striker Danny Rose's header and he kept his composure to mark his return with a goal, firing into the corner from the edge of the area.
Morecambe had only won one of their last six going into the game but going behind didn't dampen their spirits as they kept trying for a way back into the game. Striker Vadaine Oliver had an optimistic shot from range which was blocked by Stags' skipper Zander Diamond.
The game had quietened down somewhat since the Stags took the lead but they had a great chance to double their advantage in the 26th minute.
Capitalising on a misplaced pass, Danny Rose charged at the Morecambe defence before slipping the ball to his strike partner Hemmings. He teed up Hamilton inside the area but the former Sheffield United man sliced his chance wide of the near post.
In the 33rd minute, Vadaine Oliver caused a moment of panic inside the Mansfield area after acrobatically playing the ball across goal but with no Morecambe player attacking it, Logan was able to claim the ball at the far post.
Mansfield should have gone into the break 2-0 ahead after a brilliant opportunity late in the half. After CJ Hamilton was fouled on the left wing, former Scotland under 21 international Alex MacDonald delivered a brilliant free-kick which found Diamond unmarked in the area but his diving header went wide of the post.
Morecambe captain Michael Rose had the first chance of the second period. He found space 25 yards out but his curled effort was comfortably watched wide of the post by Conrad Logan.
Morecambe managed to capitalise and draw level in the 51st minute. Callum Lang, on loan from Wigan Athletic, darted into the Mansfield area before drilling a shot across goal and past Logan.
Looking for a way to retake the lead, Mansfield manager Steve Evans made a double substitution in the 54th minute, bringing attacker Paul Anderson and midfielder Jacob Mellis on in place of Kane Hemmings and Calum Butcher.
The Shrimps were continuing to ask questions of Mansfield and just past the hour, Michael Rose thundered an effort from range which just flew wide of the right-hand post.
Impressive striker Adam Campbell was given time on the edge of the Mansfield area to get a shot away and it had Logan beaten but it fortunately clipped off the post and went out for a goal kick.
Stags' top scorer Danny Rose almost put his side back in front in the 68th minute but after meeting MacDonald's whipped cross, the former Barnsley man couldn't direct his header goal bound.
With twenty minutes to go, Mansfield made their final change, Paul Digby being substituted for midfielder Will Atkinson.
Morecambe's Rose was continuing to try and find his range as he looked to put the Shrimps ahead. He saw another long-distance effort go just past the target with Logan seemingly beaten.
The game was definitely in the balance as it crept into its final stages. Former Chelsea youngster Jacob Mellis tried his luck from 25 yards out but his shot whistled past Morecambe stopper Barry Roche's left-hand post.
Starting on the bench, Morecambe introduced their most prolific attackers in Kevin Ellison and Adam McGurk and the latter almost made a quick impact. He got on the end of Conlan's cross from the left but headed it straight at Logan.
It was then the turn of the veteran Ellison to go close. He was picked out at the back post but saw a well struck volley blocked by Mansfield's Hayden White.
At the other end, Mansfield broke and almost retook the lead. Hamilton did brilliantly to beat his man, turning him inside and out, before cutting inside and hitting a powerful effort just over the Morecambe bar.
The game could have gone either way with less than ten minutes remaining.
For the visitors, Ellison saw another shot blocked, this time by Diamond, whilst for the Stags, former Ipswich man Paul Anderson was denied by a full-stretch tackle by Steven Old after racing clear inside the Morecambe area.
It had been five games since Danny Rose had found the back of the net for the Stags but the former Bury man put that dry spell to an end as he headed home the winner in the 88th minute.
Paul Anderson, who had impressed since being introduced from the bench, raced down the right and he delivered a ball to the back post where Rose was waiting to climb highest and head past Roche to send One Call Stadium into raptures.
Rose almost added a spectacular second in the final minute of normal time. He raced onto a MacDonald long ball and hit a terrific volley that almost caught out Roche with the Morecambe 'keeper off his line, but it just strayed wide of the post.
Referee Ross Joyce added five additional minutes and in the first of those, Morecambe had a chance to level it up. They were awarded a dangerous looking free-kick from a central position but Rose's low effort was deflected wide by Anderson.
There was to be some late controversy with the Mansfield bench up in arms.
Firstly they believed that Ellison had kneed right-back Hayden White in the chest after the Mansfield full back had tackled the Morecambe man and they then were stunned when Rose was booked for diving when it appeared that he had been fouled by Roche. The visiting 'keeper then raised his arms to Rose and was booked for his troubles.
The final chance of the match came deep into injury time when Morecambe threw goalkeeper Barry Roche into the area, and the former Chesterfield shot-stopper got his head to the corner, but Stags got the ball clear.
At the end of a highly competitive affair, Danny Rose's 12th of the season was enough to win it for the Stags and send them to within a point of the play-offs.
STAGS' XI: Logan (GK), White, Bennett, Diamond ©, Benning, Butcher (Mellis 54'), Digby (Atkinson 70'), MacDonald, Hamilton, Rose, Hemmings (Anderson 54')
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Pearce, Angol, Spencer
MORECAMBE XI: Roche (GK), McGowan, Kenyon, Old, Oliver (Ellison 72'), Campbell (Thompson 81'), Conlan, Lavelle, Muller, Rose ©, Lang (McGurk 72')
SUBS NOT USED: Nizic (GK), Fleming, Lund, Osbourne
ATTENDANCE: 3,058 (63 away)
REFEREE: Ross Joyce