An injury time winner moved Mansfield Town into the Sky Bet League Two automatic promotion places following a thrilling 2-1 victory over Morecambe at the Globe Arena this afternoon.
It was the hosts who went into the break ahead after the Shrimps had shaded the opening 45 minutes. The opener arrived in the 31st minute when attacker Callum Lang intercepted a short back pass by Mansfield defender Krystian Pearce before skipping past 'keeper Conrad Logan and converting the most simple of finishes.
A double change at the break sparked an upping of the ante in the second period and the Stags went onto to secure a thrilling win. The equaliser came in the 70th minute when striker Danny Rose tapped home winger CJ Hamilton's pull back after the flying wideman had played a delightful one-two with substitute Will Atkinson. That flipped the game on its head and from then on, Mansfield were in the ascendancy.
Just like last week against Cheltenham, they were made to wait for their winner, however.
Left-back Mal Benning fired home from the edge of the box in the last minute of added time, despite claims from the dressing room that frontman Jimmy Spencer got the final touch, to move Mansfield into third place in League Two.
Mansfield manager Steve Evans made two changes to his team after the dramatic events of last week's 3-2 victory against Cheltenham Town. Following his straight red card in that Cheltenham tie, right-back Hayden White was replaced by club captain Zander Diamond, with Rhys Bennett shifting to right-back. Midfielder Jacob Mellis has been ruled out for two to three weeks after an injury picked up last time out and he was replaced by striker Kane Hemmings, with Alex MacDonald dropping a little deeper to join Joel Byrom in central midfield.
Morecambe created the first opening of the game as the ball fell kindly to top scorer Kevin Ellison on the left of the Mansfield area but the centre forward sliced his effort and it was cleared at the far post by Stags' defender Rhys Bennett.
The playing surface at the Globe Arena was in poor condition and as was to be expected, it was the Morecambe players who adapted quickest with Mansfield struggling to find their rhythm inside the opening 10 minutes.
Mansfield's first chance came in the 14th minute. After a free-kick out on the right by midfielder Joel Byrom, Rhys Bennett clipped a ball into the Morecambe area and at the far post, centre back Zander Diamond saw a goal-bound effort deflected wide for a corner.
On 22 minutes, Stags' left-back Mal Benning did well to intercept the ball on the edge of his own box before slipping it to Byrom to send a hopeful ball forward to clear the danger. Chasing that ball upfield, Morecambe defender Sam Lavelle slipped before going into the referee's notebook for hauling down Mansfield striker Kane Hemmings.
Former Stag and current Morecambe striker Vadaine Oliver tried his luck for the Shrimps in the 25th minute but his shot from outside of the box was blocked well by Mansfield defender Krystian Pearce.
The Stags were starting to grow into proceedings and gain a foothold in the game but had yet to call Morecambe 'keeper Barry Roche into action. His first real save came in the 27th minute when he easily dealt with a bouncing effort from flying Stags' winger CJ Hamilton.
Facing Morecambe, the Stags knew they had to be wise to the physical and aerial threat posed by Jim Bentley's side and the men in amber and blue survived a scare just before the half hour mark when Alex Kenyon was unable to direct his free header on target.
Morecambe had enjoyed the better of the opening half hour and they took the lead in the 31st minute. After some confusion in the Stags' backline, Krystian Pearce's attempted back pass was intercepted by Callum Lang and he was able to round Stags' stopper Conrad Logan and tap into the empty net.
The home side were continuing to cause the Mansfield defence problems and in the 41st minute, Ellison delivered a ball in for his strike partner Oliver but the former Stags' man saw his header loop over the Mansfield goal.
Stags went into the game on the back of seven league games unbeaten and in an attempt to extend that run, Stags' gaffer Steve Evans made two substitutions at half-time. Paul Anderson replaced Zander Diamond, the former Liverpool man going to right-back with Rhys Bennett moving to centre half. Midfielder Will Atkinson was also introduced, replacing Alfie Potter as Alex MacDonald moved to the right flank.
The Morecambe fans, who were drowned out by the noise made by the visiting Stags' fans all afternoon, were up in arms early in the second half after Lang went down inside the area but referee Sebastian Stockbridge was having none of it, only awarding the Shrimps a corner.
Mansfield were trying their best to break down the resolute Morecambe defence and they were presented with a good opportunity to level the score in the 55th minute when Benning was tripped 25 yards out. MacDonald stepped up to the resulting free-kick but saw his effort cannon back off the wall.
Mansfield top scorer Danny Rose wanted a penalty in the 61st minute but after he went down under pressure from Kenyon, the referee waved away his appeals.
Alex MacDonald almost scored a spectacular equaliser for the Stags but his rasping drive from 30 yards out flashed wide of the Morecambe upright.
The Stags' pressure was building and in the 68th minute, Rose headed on Byrom's chipped free-kick and from only a few yards out, Bennett almost headed in but the chance was smothered well by Roche.
Despite interest from high ranking clubs in League One, Danny Rose committed his future to Mansfield Town this week by signing a new contract and the former Bury man celebrated the occasion by scoring his 14th of the campaign to level things up.
Great work by Hamilton on the left saw the ex-Sheffield United winger find space in the area and he pulled the ball back to Rose who was waiting to stroke home from eight yards out.
Rose almost got his and Mansfield's second a few minutes later. A Cheltenham pass was intercepted well by Hemmings and he slipped the ball through for Rose who cut inside onto his right but saw a low shot go wide of the target.
Mansfield were now well and truly in the ascendancy and they were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out after Rose was clipped in the centre of the pitch. Byrom sent a teasing ball in towards the back stick and though it appeared to be headed wide by a Morecambe defender, referee Stockbridge awarded the home side a goal kick.
The pressure kept coming from the Stags and in the 78th minute, on-loan Oxford United frontman Kane Hemmings saw a driven shot saved well down low by Roche.
That was to be Hemmings' last involvement in the game as he was replaced by striker Jimmy Spencer a minute later.
With less than ten minutes to go, veteran stopper Roche was called into action again to deal with a goal-bound effort from a Mansfield corner but once again he got down well to his right to deny the Stags.
In the 85th minute, Mansfield had a terrific chance to take the lead. The ball ran kindly for Benning on the left of the box and his dinked cross found Hamilton free in the middle but his header went agonisingly over the bar.
Shrimps' midfielder Andrew Fleming almost found a winner for Morecambe after he latched onto Ellison's weighted chest pass but his shot from just inside the Mansfield area was blocked on its way to goal.
The Stags were awarded a late free-kick by the right touchline after a foul on right winger Paul Anderson but the set play came to nothing as Roche was off his line well to claim Byrom's whipped cross.
Mansfield scored a 94th minute winner last time out against Cheltenham and they produced more of the same to secure the three points.
The impressive Alex MacDonald, who had provided dangerous ammunition from wide areas after his move to the flank at half-time, crossed from the right and his delivery was headed to the edge of the box where Mal Benning was on hand to fire the ball past Roche and into the bottom corner to send the Stags into ecstasy.
Players, fans and management alike wildly celebrated what turned out to be a dramatic winner at the Globe Arena.
Once the wild celebrations had calmed down, Mansfield had to survive a last ditch attempt by Morecambe to salvage something from the game but Benning's goal was the difference to give Stags a hugely important three points and move into third place in Sky Bet League Two.
STAGS' XI: Logan, Bennett, Benning, Pearce, Diamond© (Anderson 46'), MacDonald, Potter (Atkinson 46'), Hamilton, Byrom, Hemmings (Spencer 79'), Rose
SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Digby, Angol, Butcher
MORECAMBE XI: Roche, McGowan, Kenyon (Thompson 83'), Old (Fleming 10'), Oliver, Ellison, Conlan, Lavelle, Müller, Rose©, Lang (Wildig 72')
SUBS NOT USED: Nizic (GK), Campbell, Lund, McGurk
ATTENDANCE: 1,416 (334 Stags' fans)
REFEREE: Sebastian Stockbridge