Mansfield Town pegged back for draw in late drama at home to promotion rivals Northampton Tow​​​​​​​n

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Mansfield Town and promotion rivals Northampton Town battled out a hard-fought 1-1 Boxing Day draw at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.

Both goals came late as Stags saw an unlikely winner quickly wiped out as last season's play-off semi-finalists clashed again in front of a bumper crowd of 7,301.

The visitors were the better side and had the best chances of a gritty first half.

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Stags improved after the break but were a tad fortunate to be ahead through Will Swan with six minutes to go.

First half action from Stags' home clash against Northampton Town this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.mediaFirst half action from Stags' home clash against Northampton Town this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger
First half action from Stags' home clash against Northampton Town this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

However, Will Hoskins showed his class four minutes later with a high quality finish for his 15th goal of the season in all competitions to grab the visitors a deserved share of the spoils.

Northampton are now nine league games unbeaten and also unbeaten in five on the road, winning their previous three on the trot.

Stags made two changes as Kellan Gordon and Hiram Boateng came in for Lucas Akins and Ollie Clarke while visitors Northampton were unchanged.

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The visitors burst into the home box from the first whistle, bit no one was able to get a shot away and eventually they had to settle for a corner, which was over-hit and drifted out for a goalkick.

Gordon then won Mansfield a corner after some great footwork at the back by Harbottle set the move in motion, but again it all came to nothing.

On six minutes Fox had a shot deflect over, but the referee then booked Harbottle for a foul in the build-up after Stags gave the ball away when Harbottle slipped as Hawkins tried to square him a pass.

Hawkins joined him in the book for a foul three minutes later and from the 25 yard free kick it produced, Hoskins curled the ball into the sidenetting.

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Hawkins did well to prevent Appere getting a shot away after he seemed to have got goalside of him.

Stags suffered a blow on 15 minutes when Harbottle pulled up and limped off in some discomfort to be replaced by Hartigan, Stags' back five changing to a back four.

On 23 minutes Stags' wall stood firm to block a 30 yard free kick by Hoskins as the Cobblers continued to look dangerous.

Two minutes later Guthrie planted a close range near post header straight at Pym from a right wing corner, then Hewitt blocked two low attempts from Hoskins in the box with Northampton on top but unable to make it count so far.

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On the half-hour Oates floated a tame header at Burge from a Gordon cross, Stags' first on-target effort.

Northampton should have gone ahead on 36 minutes after McWilliams got down the left and picked out the late run of Fox into the box with a perfectly-placed pull back, but he steered his finish wide from 12 yards.

Clough made a double change at the break with Lapslie and Boateng replaced by Perch and Swan.

Immediately Appere made space on the edge of the box for a finish that deflected just over while on 49 minutes Hoskins forced Pym into a smart near post save from his fierce shot on the turn.

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Stags coach Andy Garner was lectured by the referee for his outburst of anger after a foul was not given. When he continued with his protests he was finally shown a yellow card.

Odimayo was booked for delaying a home throw on 57 minutes.

On the hour Quinn crossed from the left and Swan flicked a header across goal but no one was there to apply a finishing touch.

On 65 minutes McWilliams fed a ball into the path of Hoskins whose first time effort was straight at Pym.

On 68 minutes both sides shuffled their packs in search of a winner with Northampton making a double change and Stags throwing on Clarke for Quinn.

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Gordon and McLaughlin put in fine successive crosses for Stags on 77 minutes but no one could get on the end of them.

Northampton made three more changes on 79 minutes and one of the newcomers, Eppiah ran at the home defenders and shot just wide from 18 yards within two minutes.

Instead Stags swept ahead with six minutes to go. The ball cannoned off Oates in the six yard box and Burge was down to block only to see Swan swoop and poke home the loose ball from close range.

But shaken Northampton were not to be denied and four minutes later Pinnock floated a cross to the far post from the left and Hoskins showed his quality to volley home a delightful finish to level matters.

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In the third of five added minute Perch was booked for a late tackle, Pinncock wide with the low free kick.

STAGS: Pym, Gordon, Hewitt, Hawkins, Harbottle (Hartigan 15), McLaughlin, Maris, Quinn (Clarke 68), Boateng (Perch HT), Lapslie (Swan HT), Oates. SUBS NOT USED: Flinders, Wallace, Akins.

NORTHAMPTON: Burge, McGowan (Hylton 79), Guthrie, Sherring, Hoskins, Fox (Pinnock 68), Appere (Spwerby 79), Leonard, McWilliams Eppiah 79), Bowie (Magloire 68), Odimayo. SUBS NOT USED: Maxted, Hayes.

REFEREE: Benjamin Speedie.

ATTENDANCE: 7,301 (589 away).

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