THREE goals in the last 16 minutes, the winner coming in stoppage time from Andy Todd, saw Mansfield Town turn this eventful local derby on its head against nine-men Alfreton Town.
Earlier the home fans had been forced to endure a new low in a season of poor home form by the Stags as the struggling Reds romped into a 2-0 half-time lead through Anton Brown and Paul Clayton.
Stags, who had only won three of their previous eight home games this season, were rightly booed off at the break.
But a second yellow card offence by Anthony Wilson on 49 minutes saw Alfreton down to 10 men and they further shot themselves in the foot when Greg Young also saw a second yellow card for an early bath.
Finally Matt Green put Mansfield back into the game with a 74th minute penalty – his 10th goal of the season.
Lindon Meikle then levelled the game with a superb curling effort four minutes from time before Andy Todd saw his low ball in from the by-line in stoppage time bounce over the line off Reds keeper Joe Day as Stags used their get out of jail card.
It was three hard-earned points, but much of the 90 minutes will still have angered and worried boss Pal Cox who is almost certain to plunge into the loan market now this week
A poor early loose pass from Kendrick and then poor control from Riley almost allowed Wilson a sniff in the first minute, Sutton across quickly to cover.
But Green might have put Stags ahead on four minutes when he outmuscled Franks to reach Meikle’s forward ball.
But, having done the hard work, from eight yards he got under his finish and ballooned it over the crossbar.
Two minutes later Dyer won a crunching tackle on the left and then sent Green on his way, the striker cutting inside, delaying and then curling a low effort round the far post.
On seven minutes Wilson should have netted for Alfreton with a free header from seven yards from Moult’s lofted free kick, instead sending the ball straight at Marriott.
Day had his first save to make when Green flicked a header goalwards from an O’Neill free kick.
However, the Reds grabbed a shock lead as the 13th minute proved unlucky for Mansfield.
Wilson flicked on a long throw from the left and Brown popped up with a diving header that just beat the flailing fingertips of Marriott as he dived to his left.
Kendrick was too high on 17 minutes after loose Alfreton defending.
But Stags were still playing poorly and Clayton doubled Alfreton’s advantage on 21 minutes with a moment of pure farce at the back by the home side.
Moult’s left wing cross was allowed to bounce through a crowded box and almost creep in, Marriott forced to throw himself to his left to keep the ball out, only to see Mullan do well to keep the ball in play and flick it back in front of goal where Clayton headed home from point black range.
Green had another opportunity soon after from O’Neill’s through ball only to shoot low and wide of the far post.
A minute later Green turned well seven yards from goal to thread a low shot on target which Day turned aside for a corner.
The derby battle took its toll as Riley needed to change his blooded shirt after treatment for a cut head, then on 29 minutes Jarman came on for the injured Law for Alfreton.
Moult saw the game’s first booking for delaying a Stags free kick.
Connor thought he had won a penalty after he felt he was hauled down from behind by Franks, the referee deciding Connor was backing in and giving the decision the other way.
On 31 minutes O’Neill curled in a corner which Sutton headed firmly towards the angle only to see Hall block on the line.
Wilson’s foul on 33 minutes saw him join Moult in the book.
Stags’ frustrations continued and, after Kendrick needed lengthy treatment on his shoulder when landing awkwardly from a header, Meikle blazed a wild cross-cum-shot over from the right of the box.
The inevitable boos rang round the ground as Stags left the pitch knowing a mountain lay ahead in the second half.
Mansfield desperately needed a way back into the game and should have pulled one back on 48 minutes when Connor had a free header on an O’Neill free kick but, from five yards he hit the bar.
Tempers began to flare and when Wilson led with an elbow in a challenge with Riley a minute later, he was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red, Young also cautioned for dissent.
Connor then saw Stags’ first booking for jumping into his opponent.
As another long ball forward, this time by Murray, went straight to Day, the home fans again booed their disapproval of what they were seeing.
Alfreton offered the beleaguered home side more help by going down to nine men on the hour.
This time Young tripped Meikle as he went past home on the right and, having already been booked once, had to go, the Reds man kicking the tunnel in fury as he walked down it.
It really was back to the wall stuff now for the nine-men visitors with the home fans screaming at their side to make something happen.
On one occasion a low O’Neill ball ran towards Murray who, as he was about to shot, saw team mate Green take it off his toe.
Kendrick was sacrificed at the back to bring on Todd as an extra forward threat as time ticked away for the Stags.
Riley was well wide with a diving header, then Green forced Day down to save his low 15 yard drive.
Stags finally got themselves into the game on 74 minutes from a Green penalty kick.
Green fed Connor in the box who was held back by Hawes as he tried to finish.
Hawes was lucky only to see yellow in that position but Green punished him by lashing a good spot kick high to the right of the keeper and Mansfield could see a glimmer of hope at last.
Todd went on a good run but was wide with his finish from outside the box. Then Dyer could only find the sidenetting after O’Neill had drilled a low shot across the face of goal.
A repeat ball from O’Neill saw Dyer this time get in on target only to see Day save and then an offside flag raised anyway.
Stags plugged away and Green was a foot too high from 18 yards.
So there was huge relief all round on 86 minutes as Meikle cut in from the right, twisted and turned in the box and then picked out the top far corner with a superb curling finish.
Alfreton cheekily shot straight at Marriott from the kick-off, then Murray was inches wide from 18 yards as Stags went for the jugular.
But two minutes into stoppage time, Green flicked the ball on across goal, Todd rescued it on the by-line and drilled it towards the near post where the ball found its way over the line of the hapless keeper.
STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Sutton, Riley, Kendrick (Todd 63); Meikle, Murray, Bolland, Dyer; Green, Connor. Subs not used: Redmond, Worthington, Howell, Day.
ALFRETON: Day; Brown, Young, Franks, Potter, Law (Jarman 29); Moult, Hall, Mullan (Hawes 63); Clayton (Senior 67), Wilson. Subs not used: Makin, Ellison.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce of Middlesbrough.
ATTENDANCE: 2,982 (320 away).