A late Jordan Graham finish secured Stags’ reserves a point against Walsall in their opening Central League fixture of the season.
After eight months on the sidelines, 21-year-old Graham combined with CJ Hamilton to score a deserved equaliser in the 87th minute.
The amber and blue had been behind since the half hour mark when James Hardy powered past Aidan Stone from the edge of the area.
The Stags were on top during the opening stages, creating the first goal-scoring opportunities of the afternoon.
Tom Fielding came close with a low drive which flew narrowly past the post. Hamilton was then denied by a last ditch Callum Cockerill-Mollett challenge as he closed in on goal.
Walsall then, with their first and only clear opportunity of the match, opened the scoring after 30 minutes. Hardy picked up a loose ball before striking firmly into the top left corner.
Despite falling behind, the Stags continued their control of the game after the break, as they pressed for an equaliser. Willem Tomlinson and Hamilton both sent efforts over the crossbar.
Jimmy Knowles then had two openings. The first, a header, fell just wide after a Tomlinson cross. He then fired over after the ball fell his way on the edge of the area.
Richard Cooper’s side finally, after persistent pressure, got what they deserved when substitute Graham, making his first appearance since injury back in February, slotted home the leveller.
Hamilton flew down the right before laying off to Graham who calmly side-footed into the net to ensure the two sides would begin their Central League seasons with a point apiece.
Next up for the reserves is a meeting with Peterbrough United in two weeks’ time in the Central League Cup as they look to earn their first victory of the season.
WALSALL RESERVES XI: Rose, Pring (Foulkes 67’), Bates, Cockerill-Mollett, Roberts, Campbell, Mukadam, Allamby-John (Pearce 67’), Hardy (Moss 67’), Norman (Little 67’), Willis (Johnson 67’).
UNUSED SUBS: Rogerson.
STAGS RESERVES XI: Stone, Gibbens, Walker, Hamilton, Smith, Tomlinson, Fielding (Graham 62’), Knowles, Afolayan, Clarke, Law.
UNUSED SUBS: Campbell, Chisholm, Sketchley, Tomlin.