Mansfield Town named an unchanged side for the short trip to Alfreton Town as Paul Cox kept faith with the same side that hammered Barrow 7-0 at the weekend for tonight’s big local derby at the Impact Arena.
Former Alfreton star Anthony Howell was named in the midfield as he looked to impress against his former club, whilst ex-Stag Nathan Arnold was named in the Alfreton starting line-up.
Alfreton were dealt a late blow when Seamus Conneely was withdrawn from the starting side just 10 minutes before kick-off due to illness to be replaced by Theo Streete.
The game promised plenty of goals with Alfreton’s previous 18 home games racking up a mammoth 70 goals.
Mansfield nearly found an early opening after two minutes when Briscoe flicked on Geoghagon’s pass into the path of Matt Green.
But late addition Theo Street stood tall to outpower Green and send the ball to safety.
Stags should have taken the lead after five minutes when Mansfield caught Alfreton on a fast counter attack.
Briscoe burst forward before playing Meikle down the left side of the box, who delivered a peach of a pass across the six yard box.
Dyer then pulled the ball back to Briscoe who somehow blazed well wide from 10 yards out as the opening goal went begging.
It was a very costly miss as the Reds, who have won three on the bounce, broke well to take the lead through Jake Moult after indecision by Riley and Sutton allowed Moult to nip in and head home at the back post.
And Alfreton so nearly doubled their lead two minutes later when striker Paul Clayton found space just inside the box after Stags against struggled to clear a Wilson centre.
But Marriott produced one of the saves of the season at any level of football to claw away Clayton’s rasping right foot effort and keep the visitor’s in the contest.
Former hero Anthony Howell came back to hault Alfreton after tenacious play by Exodus Geoghagon set Stags on their way.
The big defender showed his strength to fight off Anthony Wilson before playing in O’Neill down the right flank.
O’Neill delivered a trademark low cross which Green saw well saved by Stewart, who then regained his feet to deny Meikle from the rebound.
But Howell was on hand to hammer home into the roof off the net to level the scores after 17 minutes of a highly entertaining game.
Two minutes later Nathan Arnold showed his danger for the first time as he burst down the right win before cutting inside and firing wide from 20 yards.
But all Stags hardwork was undone after 21 minutes when Riley was poorly dispossessed in the box by the impressive Anthony Wilson.
Nathan Jarman showed his true goalscoring instinct as he picked up on the loose ball to drill home through Marriott’s legs for his 16th goal of the season to give Alfreton a deserved lead.
And the on-song home side nearly caught Stags on the break again on 27 minutes when Arnold burst past O’Neill and into space down the right flank.
The former Mansfield man then whipped in a dangerous cross into the centre, but Clayton was unable to direct his header on target as Alfreton continued to expose Mansfield’s defensive troubles.
Geoghagon again played a massive part as Mansfield levelled the excellent contest after 32 minutes when his long throw was powerfully met by Martin Riley leaving Stewart with no chance.
And delight turned to ecstasy a minute later when the commanding Geoghagon nodded down an outswinging O’Neill corner into the path of Matt Green, who needed no second invitation to fire home his 25th goal of a highly impressive campaign
It was nearly 3-3 on 35 minutes when Wilson unluckily saw his header hit the top of the bar before being nodded to safety by Geoghagon as Alfreton showed they were not dead and buried.
But lively Mansfield continued to push forward and nearly found a two goal cushion on 38 minutes when Briscoe burst down the left flank before firing in a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal which just evaded the diving Matt Green.
Superb Howell then gave Stags a firm control on the game when he smashed home from 23 yards into the roof of the net after cooly side-stepping Anton Brown to cap a very memorable return to the Impact Arena.
But Afreton refused to die down and they pulled a goal back three minutes into stoppage town after Arnold’s energetic run was ended by Geoghagon at the expense of a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Marriott was unable to hold Jarman’s excellent free-kick leaving Brown perfectly placed to fire home from virtually on the goal-line as he collided with Marriott.