Mansfield Town booked a place in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs with a hard fought 2-2 draw at home to league champions Forest Green Rovers.
The Stags finish the season in seventh and will now face Northampton Town in the play-off semi-finals.
Matty Longstaff fired Mansfield into a first-half lead on 17 minutes with a coolly-taken finish past Rovers’ ‘keeper Luke McGee.
The visitors equalised on 68 minutes through Ebou Adams before Jordan Bowery coolly restored Mansfield’s lead on 78 minutes.
Forest Green equalised for the second occasion two minutes later when substitute Josh March slotted the ball past Nathan Bishop to secure the league title.
Manager Nigel Clough made two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Salford City at The Peninsula Stadium on Monday.
Experienced midfielder Stephen Quinn replaced George Lapslie in the line-up, with striker Jordan Bowery trading places with Lucas Akins in attack.
George Maris crafted the first sight of goal for Mansfield as the game adopted a lively opening. After the midfielder snatched the ball from Forest Green’s Ebou Adams, the Stags’ man teed up an effort from the edge of the box, but his attempt was quickly charged down.
A minute later, Forest Green right wing-back Kane Wilson guided a cross to Nicky Cadden who blazed his volley over the bar from the back post.
The game’s fast tempo continued, and Oates found space to drive through the midfield on 11 minutes before being wiped out by Adams just outside the box. Stephen McLaughlin subsequently whipped the 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide of the bottom left post as Mansfield’s pressure built.
The Stags’ final third pressure paid dividends on 17 minutes when Matty Longstaff fired the hosts into the lead. After Jamie Murphy cut inside from the left, Jordan Bowery deflected the Scotsman’s through ball into the path of the lurking Longstaff. The initial effort from the 22-year-old midfielder was parried by ‘keeper Luke McGee before the on-loan Newcastle man buried the rebound from close range.
The visitors came close to equalising just a minute later when Forest Green captain Jamille Matt fired Adams’ cutback into the clutches of Nathan Bishop from the centre of the box.
The Stags absorbed Forest Green’s pressure in the following stages in order to protect their lead going into half-time.
Mansfield almost doubled their lead in the second minute of added time after Oates’ ball into the near post was directed goal wards by Stephen McLaughlin’s back-healed effort. However, the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the visitors’ goal and the Stags were made to settled for a one-goal lead at the break.
The stages after half-time were evenly contested as Mansfield looked to attack further.
Following a period of possession, the amber and blue came close to doubling their lead on the hour mark after Jamie Murphy wriggled into space on the right wing before directing a low cross narrowly ahead of the on-rushing Oates.
Forest Green equalised on 64 minutes after Adams was played through on goal with Bishop and the midfielder knocked the ball to the left of the ‘keeper before sliding it into the net.
The title-chasing visitors upped the pressure after their equaliser. On 73 minutes Cadden cut in from the right to play a pass into Jack Aitchison, whose prodded effort from close range was well gathered by Bishop.
Mansfield restored their lead after a sustained attack on 78 minutes. McLaughlin’s cross into the box from the left wing accurately found Jordan Bowery who coolly knocked the ball into the bottom right corner.
The visitors attacked straight away and found their equaliser just three minutes later. After substitute Josh March was slotted through on goal, the substitute midfielder lifted the ball over the onrushing Bishop to score.
Stags almost struck back on 86 minutes when Longstaff’s dipped cross into the box was nodded goal wards by Oates, but McGee was able to scramble to his right and hold the striker’s effort.
The final minutes of the contest saw Mansfield keeping possession around the back as both sides claimed the point necessary to finish inside the play-offs and clinch the title, respectively.
Mansfield will next face Northampton Town in the play-off semi-final first leg at One Call Stadium on Saturday 14 May.
STAGS XI: Bishop, Perch (Hewitt 84’), O’Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin, Maris (Wallace 74’), Longstaff, Quinn, Murphy (Akins 88’), Oates, Bowery
UNUSED SUBS: Stech, Clarke, Stirk, Lapslie
FOREST GREEN XI: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Stevenson, Adams, Aitchison, Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Hendry (March 79’), Godwin-Malife
UNUSED SUBS: Thomas, Sweeney, Cargill, Allen, Young, Diallo
REFEREE: Robert Madley
ATTENDANCE: 7,374 (473 away supporters)