Mansfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw by Northampton Town after Mal Benning’s extraordinary goal was cancelled out by Sam Foley at the PTS Academy Stadium.
In the first period, Benning found the back of the Northampton goal direct from a corner kick with chances at a premium for both sides.
The Cobblers then restored parity through Foley’s second-half header and, despite their best efforts, Mansfield could not regain the advantage as the points were shared on the road.
Stags’ boss David Flitcroft opted to restore centre-half Ryan Sweeney to the starting line-up, in place of the injured Ben Turner.
Jason Law subsequently found himself in the matchday squad as he made up the seven-man substitutes’ bench.
Northampton boasted the first dangerous chance of the afternoon via a dangerous free-kick on the near side.
David Buchanan’s wicked delivery was met by hosts’ skipper, Aaron Pierre, at the far post but the centre-half could only find the side netting with his header.
And Mansfield heeded that early warning sign with 12 minutes elapsed.
Benning, assuming responsibility of the Stags’ first corner, delivered a teasing ball that somehow travelled through a mass of bodies and into the back of the net.
It was an extraordinary way to open the scoring but Benning – recently named in Sky Bet League Two’s Team of the Season – could care no less as he notched his third goal of the campaign.
Soon after, Tyler Walker took aim from just inside David Cornell’s penalty area – but saw his fierce attempt blocked in timely fashion.
The Cobblers sought an instant response, however, Mansfield were able to plug any potential avenues to deny a quick-fire equaliser.
Another training ground routine from the home side caused momentary chaos inside the Stags’ penalty area, yet they were able to clear without devastating effect.
Walker then escaped the attentions his marker minutes later but, again, his shot towards goal was smothered by an on-rushing Northampton defender.
Sam Hoskins had an attempt of his own blocked just past the half-hour mark from edge of Conrad Logan’s 18-yard box.
The second period began in similar, battling fashion to the first as both sides tussled for possession in the middle of the park.
The hosts’ seventh corner of Saturday afternoon was hooked clear by Alex MacDonald before the visitors’ fourth found Matt Preston – only for his goalbound header to be blocked.
Flitcroft’s first roll of the dice reared its head before the hour as Jacob Mellis entered the fray in place of Will Tomlinson.
Mansfield’s goalscorer, Benning, then attempted to slide CJ Hamilton through but his pass carried too much weight allowing Cornell to claim.
However, Keith Curle’s side restored parity with 69 minutes on the clock at the PTS Academy Stadium.
Their latest corner finally bore fruit as Sam Foley rose highest in the middle to head home from point-blank range.
Less than two minutes thereafter, Preston looked to conjure a shooting chance for one of his teammates but his header was punted clear.
Mansfield’s second substitute, Danny Rose, then had a penalty appeal waved away as he tumbled to the turf under pressure from Pierre.
And the striker spurned a fantastic opportunity to restore his side’s lead with five minutes remaining.
Rose latched onto Sweeney’s flick-on but, with pressure from the Cobblers’ defence, fired his effort over Cornell’s crossbar.
Mansfield continued to press for that all-important winner and they were given a golden chance to do so when Rose was fouled 25 yards from goal.
Mellis assumed responsibility of the subsequent free-kick, however, it was drilled over to ensure it ended a point apiece.
The Stags are next in action on Good Friday when they take on Morecambe at One Call Stadium.
STAGS XI: Logan (GK), Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Bishop, MacDonald, Tomlinson (Mellis 56’), Sweeney, Walker, Jones (Rose 65’), Hamilton.
SUBS NOT USED: Smith (GK), Atkinson, Grant, Law, Hakeem.
NORTHAMPTON XI: Cornell (GK), Facey, Buchanan (Cox 89’), Goode, Hoskins, Foley, Williams, D. Powell (Morias 82’), Pierre ©, Turnbull, Pollock (O’Toole 90+2’).
SUBS NOT USED: Coddington (GK), J. Powell, Bowditch, Elsnik.
REFEREE: Paul Marsden.
ASSISTANTS: Adrian Tranter & Marvyn Amphlett.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: David Plowright.
ATTENDANCE: 5,905 (1,465 away).