Mansfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw by Colchester United after Craig Davies’ opener was cancelled out by a last-gasp Sammie Szmodics equaliser.
It was a quiet first-half by Mansfield’s standards as they dominated much of the possession without a goal to show for it.
The second-half burst into life when substitute Davies looked to have stolen all three points with a rasping drive from 19 yards. But Szmodics had other ideas as he poked the ball home following a goalmouth scramble, meaning the spoils were shared at One Call Stadium.
David Flitcroft made just a single change from Tuesday’s record-breaking victory in the Carabao Cup – as Bobby Olejnik made way for Conrad Logan between the sticks.
It was a first-half that was dominated by the Stags’ lengthy spells of possession, albeit no goals to show for it.
In the fifth minute, CJ Hamilton cut in from the left-hand side but his foot struck the ball too far south as it sailed over Dillon Barnes’ crossbar.
Mansfield continued to probe at the visitors’ back-line as they searched for an early opener at One Call Stadium.
Otis Khan then played a delightfully whipped cross from a corner towards the head of Ryan Sweeney – but the centre-half was unable to meet the ball with his head following a late run.
The match had already adopted a much slower start than the Stags’ previous three fixtures during the 2018-19 season, so far.
Trying to capitalise from a set-piece, Mal Benning’s effort towards goal struck the Colchester wall. The ball was then recycled by the defender, however it was too long a delivery for everyone in the middle and Colchester breathe a sigh of relief.
The left-back was then involved once more as he stopped the ball reaching Colchester’s right-back, Jackson, but his header gifted the visitors a corner.
The subsequent ball was looped to the back-post by Brennan Dickenson and Prosser powered a header goalwards, which Logan was able to claw away acrobatically.
Down the other end, first Tyler Walker then Benning were both upended as the Stags continued to look for an opener after their scare just moments prior.
Khan’s next ball into the mix was cleared away with ease by Colchester and Alex MacDonald’s ball back in fell into the arms of ‘keeper Barnes.
Moments later, Walker received the ball on the right-flank and his attempted through-ball to Khan was slightly over hit, as he watched is roll into the arms of Barnes once more.
On the half-an-hour mark Hayden White scooped a lovely ball between two players to find Hamilton; however, the winger’s touch was too heavy as he let Colchester off the hook.
Calum Butcher then opted for a pass to Khan instead of Walker who looked to had made a great run, and the home side had to settle for a subsequent throw-in.
Stags’ skipper, Krystian Pearce, then pulled down Courtney Senior to halt a Colchester attack and received a yellow card for his troubles. Luckily, nothing came to fruition for the visitors.
Five minutes from half-time, Hamilton sprinted alongside Kane Vincent-Young and dug out a low cross that was hooked away by Prosser.
And one minute later it was Hamilton’s teammate, Butcher, who found himself in a similar position. The midfielder’s attempted cross could only find Barnes as the half looked to be petering out without a goal to show for it.
On the stroke of half-time, Pearce denied the U’s any chance of taking the lead with a standing challenge that was met with applause from the Stags’ faithful.
Into the second-half and Sweeney looked to have misjudged a header that almost let Szmodics in-behind – but he tidied up well following a neat one-two with Logan.
An hour into the game and the decibel levels rose inside One Call Stadium as Hamilton won a corner for his side. It was taken in due course and moments later Mansfield had both a penalty and handball appeal waved away by referee Michael Salisbury.
Frank Nouble tried his best to bring Colchester forward but was eventually suffocated between several Mansfield defenders who were able to bring the ball away.
On 67 minutes substitute Craig Davies battled with Vincent-Young, who tried to shield the ball out of play, but the striker came out on top as he won a corner for the Stags.
The ball then found its way out to Khan following the corner, and his teasing ball was inches away from Walker’s outstretched right boot.
The boss then introduced both Neal Bishop and Danny Rose as he looked to take all three points with just over ten minutes left to play. The latter then won a free-kick 35 yards from Colchester’s goal after looking to break away with the ball.
Despite Flitcroft’s two final substitutions, it was his first that was able to produce the goods in the 81st minute.
Craig Davies picked up the ball on the left-hand side, and after his initial attempt at goal was blocked, he struck a rasping drive through Barnes’ hands to give his side a deserved lead.
With their tails up, the Stags came forward with Hamilton once more. He fed the ball to Rose and his curling shot could only find the mid-rift of Colchester’s shot-stopper.
The final minutes were dominated by the visiting side as they sought an equaliser.
Mansfield stayed resolute for the most part, however, it was heartbreak for Flitcroft’s men after Szmodics rescued a point for the visiting side in the 95th minute. A long throw was not dealt with by the Mansfield defence and it bounced along for the midfielder to prod home.
There will be little time for reflection, though, as the Stags are next in action on Tuesday evening as they make the journey north to face Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
STAGS XI: Logan (GK), White, Benning, Pearce ©, MacDonald, Mellis (Bishop 77’), Khan (Rose 77’), Butcher (Davies 58’), Sweeney, Walker, Hamilton.
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Atkinson, Sterling-James, Gibbens.
COLCHESTER UNITED XI: Barnes (GK), Jackson, Kent, Prosser ©, Vincent-Young (Eastman 87’), Lapslie, Pell, Dickenson, Szmodics, Senior (Norris 72’), Nouble (Mandron 88’)
SUBS NOT USED: Ross (GK), Wright, Comley, Collins.
REFEREE: Michael Salisbury.
ASSISTANTS: Gary Hilton & Wade Smith.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Duncan Street.
ATTENDANCE: 3,909 (196 away).