Mansfield Town earned a point against Northampton Town under new boss Graham Coughlan as Andy Cook’s thunderous effort was cancelled out by Harry Smith at One Call Stadium.
An end-to-end first half saw neither side able to break the deadlock under the floodlights on Saturday afternoon.
And while Cook was able to fire home with aplomb 15 minutes from time, the visitors snatched an equaliser through Smith’s looping header.
Graham Coughlan was able to name his first-ever Stags line-up that consisted of two changes from last Saturday’s trip to Crewe Alexandra.
Will Tomlinson replaced Conor Shaughnessy in midfield while Danny Rose returned for Nicky Maynard.
Inside the first minute, Sam Hoskins crashed a thunderous effort against the bar but Mansfield were able to deal with the follow-up.
An early scare did not halt the noise from the Ian Greaves or Quarry Lane stands as Mansfield pressed with intensity to gain a foothold in the contest.
Tomlinson’s beautiful diagonal found Alex MacDonald on the charge; however, he was dispossessed before being able to pick out someone in the middle.
The former then attempted to take matters into his own hands with a long-range half-volley that arrowed wide.
Northampton responded through former Stag, Paul Anderson, whose cross found Nicky Adams at the back post. His first-time strike forced a smart save from Bobby Olejnik, before CJ Hamilton was cynically tripped as he threatened to bust away on the counter.
The hosts were adamant on finding the opening goal and Rose almost did so in phenomenal circumstances with an overhead kick, albeit miscued.
Hamilton – who was a constant outlet down the right channel – escaped the attentions of Michael Harriman but his cross was deflected and Andy Cook looped his subsequent header over the bar.
After a frantic opener, the game somewhat settled with challenges being made by both sides.
Soon after, though, Cook flicked the ball into the path of Rose, but the effort was scuffed across the turf and David Cornell was able to claim.
The Stags boasted more possession into additional time, yet they were unable to conjure any gilt-edged chances as the scores were level at the interval.
Back into the second half and Mansfield had an opportunity to break from Northampton’s first attack. Rose was sat on the halfway line ready to dart clear but Mal Benning’s pass was under hit.
The left-back was then given the opportunity to deliver a teasing ball from a set-piece, which Matt Preston somehow poked wide.
It caused the decibel levels inside the One Call to rise and with it came MacDonald’s drive from distance that was high of its intended target.
Coughlan’s side were enjoying the lion’s share of the ball and almost profited through Hamilton’s run. A sharp turn beat the final man for pace his effort rolled agonisingly way before clipping the stanchion.
But it wouldn’t be long before the Stags had their lead
Cook, who found himself outside Cornell’s area, decided against searching for a teammate before unleashing a rasping strike that snuck inside the near post.
The game’s opener, in fact, spurred the hosts onto finding a second, which almost came through substitute Maynard.
Cook rolled towards his teammate but the No. 11 was nicked of possession as he sought to pull the trigger.
Pressure was building against the home side – Hamilton and MacDonald both skewing efforts off target – but Keith Curle’s side were level on 84 minutes.
Harry Smith’s looping header caught the Stags unaware and crept underneath the crossbar to restore parity.
There were to be seven additional minutes at the end of the second half, with an all-to-play-for feeling inside the ground.
However, no clear-cut chances presented themselves meaning the amber and blue had to settle for a point under new boss Coughlan.
The Stags are back in action on Boxing Day as they host Port Vale in Sky Bet League Two.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Benning, Preston, Bishop, MacDonald, Tomlinson (Smith 80’), Sweeney ©, Cook (Davies 82’), Clarke, Hamilton, Rose (Maynard 69’).
UNUSED SUBS: Logan (GK), Pearce, Khan, Knowles.
NORTHAMPTON XI: Cornell (GK), McCormack (Williams 62’), Goode ©, Turnbull, Hoskins, Watson, Adams, Wharton, Oliver, Harriman (Martin 80’), Anderson (Smith 62’).
UNUSED SUBS: Arnold (GK), Hall-Johnson, McWilliams, Warburton.
REFEREE: Alan Young
ASSISTANTS: Geoffrey Liddle & Ollie Williams
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Simon Shaw
ATTENDANCE: 4,496 (474 away)