Mansfield Town played out an enthralling 2-2 draw against Yeovil Town at Huish Park, coming back from behind twice thanks to goals from Craig Davies and Matt Preston.
In what was a gripping game of football, both sets of fans were treated to four goals within the first 25 minutes. The Glovers’ Diallang Jaiyesimi and Yoann Arquin twice put the home side ahead, but were pegged back by goals from the Stags' Davies and Preston, respectively.
The second-half didn’t deliver any more goals, but the match itself never lacked a fiery edge that could have seen it swing in either side’s favour quite easily.
Stags' boss David Flitcroft named an unchanged line-up to face the Glovers after last week’s victory at home to Newport County.
It was an end-to-end start to the game as both sides looked to control from the outset. In the light drizzle at Huish Park, Neal Bishop won the game’s first set-piece on four minutes, but it was to no avail as Alex MacDonald’s subsequent attempt was blocked by a strong Yeovil wall.
However, there was soon to be an early setback for the Stags as Diallang Jaiyesimi controlled a lofted through ball, before tucking it beyond the onrushing Conrad Logan to give his side the lead in just the sixth minute.
As Flitcroft’s side immediately set out to draw level, it was Otis Khan who had the game’s next chance at goal. Returning to Huish Park after his move to Mansfield last summer, he attempted an audacious overhead kick that ultimately fell wide of Nathan Baxter’s
But Mansfield found their first equaliser courtesy of Craig Davies. The striker benefitted from some loose play inside the host’s penalty area, before firing the ball low and into the bottom corner.
Khan, who looked sharp all game, was involved once more as he wriggled through Yeovil’s defence. Unfortunately, his effort at goal could only find the side netting – much to the delight of the home crowd.
And their delight didn’t end there as they witnessed their side regain the lead on 17 minutes. A long throw from Carl Dickinson was not dealt with by the Stags’ back-line, allowing Yoann Arquin to pounce on the initial shot that was well saved by Conrad Logan and poke home.
Yeovil almost had the chance to extend their lead just three minutes later, had it not been for a handball by their skipper, Francois Zoko, which was spotted by referee Neil Hair.
Moments later, Davies fired a curling effort from the edge of the area that was well-held by Baxter.
The frantic nature to the game ensued as the Glovers came close once more. Arquin played an inch-perfect ball past Krystian Pearce that was seized upon by Jaiyesimi – but he could only lift the ball over Logan’s crossbar.
Mal Benning then found Khan who had peeled out to the left hand side, before he danced past the defender and was able to pick out Matt Preston in the middle. The centre-back came charging forward to connect with the ball and head an emphatic second equaliser for the Stags.
Mansfield could have found themselves ahead for the first time in the match, after some quick thinking from skipper Pearce on the half-an-hour mark. Winning a free-kick, he played a one-two with Tyler Walker but his rasping effort sailed marginally over.
Davies then misjudged a header but the threat was not extinguished as Walker found himself in-behind; firing past Baxter’s far-post.
On 37 minutes, Hayden White looked to set his team on the front foot once more. He burst out from the back, but a heavy touch denied him any opportunity of creating a chance for his side.
The Stags continued to pile on the pressure right up until the half-time whistle. Benning this time drove forward, however, the left-back had the ball stolen from his feet before he had any time to react.
He was then booked in the 45th minute for a foul on the halfway line against the game’s first goalscorer, Jaiyesimi.
A free-kick from White that was headed out of play by D’Almeida signalled the end to an enthralling first-half of football at Huish Park.
Both sides began the second-half with similar intentions to the first – albeit with less goals. First Khan, and then D’Almeida, both watched courageous attempts sail off target less than ten minutes into the half.
On the hour mark, Benning bombed down the left-hand side and managed to find Walker with space inside the 18-yard box. The striker’s first-time effort was heading goalwards but was well blocked by Yeovil substitute, Gary Warren.
This time it was White’s turn to try his luck down the opposite flank, but his cross was held at the near-post by Baxter.
Flitcroft’s outfit could have fallen behind for a third time in the match, when Preston’s attempted clearance fell to the feet of Jaiyesimi. The striker swivelled on the ball and his eventual shot somehow flew wide of the target from nine yards.
Logan came to the Stags’ rescue on 67 minutes saving a drilled effort from Arquin before the latter fired the rebound into the stand.
Moments later, Stags could have been in front. Khan was slipped in by White down the right-hand side, and his pull-back found Walker who was unable to beat Baxter with his effort.
Mansfield grew in stature as the clocked ticked towards full-time. Walker’s next involvement was a lofted cross to the back-post that found his strike-partner, Davies. Nodding the ball back across, it took a vital touch from Yeovil’s Sowunmi to stop any threat of a third Stags goal.
With ten minutes remaining, Preston was adjudged to have pulled down Zoko on the edge of the area, and the Glovers’ subsequent set-piece was headed into the mid-rift of Logan by Sowunmi.
Khan found a pocket of space in the middle, and slid through Walker with precision. The striker looked to be unleashing an effort goalwards but a challenge came in at the last moment to deny him.
Moments from full-time, Preston rose highest from Khan’s delivery but his glancing header only found the advertising boards behind Baxter’s goal.
Ultimately, Flitcroft’s side will take a battling point from a match that delivered many positives, as they look forward to a Carabao Cup First Round tie at home to Accrington Stanley in three days’ time.
STAGS XI: Logan (GK), White, Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Bishop, MacDonald (Mellis 87’), Davies (Butcher 83’), Khan, Walker, Hamilton.
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Sweeney, Gibbens, Graham, Atkinson.
YEOVIL TOWN XI: Baxter (GK), Dickinson, Mugabi, Sowunmi, Zoko ©, Jaiyesimi (Henry 74’), Arquin, D’Almeida, McDonald, Donnellan (Warren 46’), D’Abadia (Pattison 56’).
SUBS NOT USED: Phillips (GK), Cole, Fisher, Rogers.
REFEREE: Neil Hair
ASSISTANTS: Kevin Morris & Ronald Ganfield.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Christopher Wade.
ATTENDANCE: 2,795 (315 away).