Mansfield Town salvaged a point at promotion rivals Stockport County as Lucas Akins’ stoppage time header ensured the points were shared in a dramatic finish at Edgeley Park.
Stags were second best in a first-half in which chances were at a premium and the hosts deservedly led at the break courtesy of Paddy Madden’s header.
But up popped Akins at the death to rescue a point following a much-improved second-half performance.
In Stags’ starting lineup, midfielder Hiram Boateng replaced the suspended Stephen Quinn while defender Elliott Hewitt was introduced for Danny Johnson.
Stockport spurned a golden chance to draw first blood in the fourth minute.
After latching on to a pass from captain Paddy Madden, striker Will Collar peeled away from the Stags’ defence, advancing one-on-one with goalkeeper Christy Pym. And the Stags’ shot-stopper pulled off an excellent one-handed save from Collar’s right-footed strike to deny the hosts an early breakthrough.
Stags almost had a lead of their own six minutes later as they rattled the woodwork.
Quick thinking saw a quick-free kick on the left touchline, with Keillor-Dunn roaming forward to find Lucas Akins. And after the frontman picked out skipper Ollie Clarke, the midfielder’s well-hit drive deflected to clip onto the top of the crossbar.
Back at the other end, defender Alfie Kilgour was unable to properly clear inside his own box. But just as marksman Kyle Wootton was set to shoot, Riley Harbottle came to the rescue by storming across to blast the ball away.
Stockport began to dominate possession and got their reward after half-an-hour.
Akil Wright swung in from the right touchline and Paddy Madden’s perfectly-placed glancing header flew into the far corner leaving Pym with no chance.
Stags almost pulled one back four minutes later.
Akins showed real strength near the County goalline to slip it to Hewitt, whose low ball towards the goal area took a wicked deflected to spin behind for a corner.
Stags switched to a 4-3-3 at the start of the second period in a bid to restore parity, with Jordan Bowery and Davis Keillor-Dunn flanking Lucas Akins in attack.
Stockport continued their front-foot approach into the second period and two minutes after the interval, Pym was at full-stretch to beat away Chris Hussey’s left-footed free-kick from 25 yards.
His next save – on 52 minutes - was more routine, getting down low to Antoni Sarcevic’s weakly hit effort.
Stags were withstanding mounting pressure, but had a half-chance within the blink of an eye.
Davis Keillor-Dunn, inside the Stockport box, was unable to get a shot away, with the ball seemingly tangled in his boots. Despite the mis-hit, the opportunity seemed to spark Mansfield into life.
On 57 minutes, James Perch was withdrawn for Rhys Oates in Stags’ first change.
Mansfield started to force County back and won two corners within as many minutes.
And following the second flag-kick, a stooping Alfie Kilgour nodded wide following Keillor-Dunn’s clipped cross.
Stags were enjoying their best spell of the contest and added extra firepower on 74 minutes with a second chance as Kieran Wallace made way for Danny Johnson.
Stockport threatened to double their lead soon after when substitute Isaac Olaofe got beyond Bowery to cut into the box. But his fierce strike was blocked by a fearless Alfie Kilgour to prevent Pym from being called upon.
In a final throw of the dice, Stags’ boss Nigel Clough introduced James Gale and Jason Law for Riley Harbottle and Hiram Boateng.
Then came the late drama, three minutes into stoppage time.
Hewitt delivered a perfectly-weighted cross with the outside of his boot from the left side and Akins was well placed on the edge of the six-yard box to power home his header and send the travelling Stags’ fans behind the goal into raptures and rescue a point.
STOCKPORT: Hinchliffe, Knoyle, Wright, Byrne, Madden (Olaofe 72), Sarcevic, Collar (Camps 90+1), Croasdale, Wootton, Hippolyte (Stretton 66), Hussey
UNUSED SUBS: Jaros, Camps, Johnson, Rydel, Rowe
STAGS: Pym, Hewitt, Harbottle (Gale 89), Kilgour, Perch (Oates 57), Bowery, Wallace (Johnson 74), Clarke, Boateng (Law 89), Keillor-Dunn, Akins
UNUSED SUBS: Flinders, Anderson, Law, Gale, Abdullah
REFEREE: Paul Howard