A RED card for Adam Smith and a late equaliser for Gateshead spoiled the afternoon for Mansfield after they had turned in another fine away display on Tyneside today.
Paul Connor had given the visitors a deserved 29th minute lead, but on 54 minutes he failed to turn the ball into an open goal from four yards which would have probably settled the game.
Instead he was left to rue his miss as the second half swing Gateshead’s way eight minutes later
Adam Smith was shown a straight red card on 62 minutes for a high boot in a challenge on Michael Kay, although it looked accidental and probably only merited a yellow card.
That was the lift they needed and Gateshead began to pile on the pressure for the first time all afternoon, finally levelling with a far post header from Kay on 80 minutes.
But Kris Gate missed a hat-trick of chances to win it when he only had Alan Marriott to beat, so the day could have been worse for Mansfield.
Only Fleetwood had managed a goal against Gateshead at the International Stadium all season and were the only side to win there.
But, had they kept 11 men on the park, Stags looked a good bet to take all three points.
Instead a second red card of the week again proved costly for Mansfield.
Although young Tom Naylor did well at the back, Stags missed the presence of suspended skipper Steve Foster while manage David Holdsworth was also forced to sit in the stand with the directors after his ‘sending-off’ at Luton.
But Adam Murray made a superb ‘debut’ to mark his third spell with the club, playing in the hole behind lone striker Paul Connor and involved in everything.
Chris Smith took over the captaincy on a fine afternoon on Tyneside with a following of 324 away fans in the 1,046 crowd in the giant stadium.
Mills did well to get in a challenge before Brittain could turn the ball home from a low cross in the first attack of the afternoon.
Mansfield responded and Briscoe put the ball over from the right by-line, Connor headed down for Adam Smith. It seemed to take an eternity before had a stab at goal from six yards but got under it and the ball sailed well over.
Mills’ pass found the feet of Connor in the box and he turned on it but didn’t quite have the ball where he wanted before he poked a tame effort straight at Deasy.
Silk and Murray spread the ball from right to left for Adam Smith who twisted and turned the defenders before shooting, the ball clipping Gate on the way and Deasy doing well to grab it at full length to his left.
The home keeper had more work to do on 21 minutes as Murray fed Briscoe to his right and the winger took the ball in his stride and crashed a powerful snapshot from a tight angle that caught everyone by surprise, Deasy forced to parry at his near post.
Two minutes later Nelthorpe tried to send Mulligan clear for the Tynesiders but Naylor stuck to his task well, stayed with him and finally slid in to concede a corner.
There was more danger as Mulligan lashed wide of the far post after Shaw had flicked on a long Kay cross from the right.
But a moment of brilliance from Briscoe and a great finish from Connor put Mansfield ahead on 29 minutes.
Briscoe showed great pace and strength to burst down the right and whip in a cross to the near post where Connor expertly turned the ball home first time against one of his former clubs.
Sandwith was too high with a 20 yard free kick after Adam Smith had been fouled.
Mills was even higher over from the same range soon after and then Briscoe again tried to blast the ball inside the near post from a Murray pass and again the keeper had to block.
Marriott had to grab a deflected Shaw shot from another long Kay throw.
Then Mulligan tried to go clear on a dangerous run but was upended by Chris Smith 25 yards from goal who was booked for his troubles. Brittain took the free kick but was well over the bar.
Stags won an early corner after the break when Adam Smith’s shot was deflected wide, another soon followed but neither produced a goal threat.
A moment’s hesitation between Naylor and Chris Smith almost allowed Mulligan in but Marriott was down bravely at his feet.
How Connor didn’t double his and Mansfield’s tally on 54 minutes he will never know.
Murray sprayed a superb ball wide to Briscoe on the right. He put the ball into the middle where Deasy turned it away as far as Connor who, with an empty net in front of him, somehow didn’t get enough purchase on the ball and allowed Deasy enough time to get there before it crossed the line.
Nix forced another save out of Deasy with a hopeful 30-yard effort that skidded along the surface.
Former Stags Shaw might have levelled the game on the hour but headed straight at Marriott from six yards from Nelthorpe’s left wing cross.
But the visitors were rocked by a 62nd minute red card for Adam Smith.
He went in high for a challenge that caught debut-making Sunderland loanee Kay in the chest. The referee reached for his pocket and instead of the expected yellow, produced red.
Smith was furious but the decision was made and the winger began the long walk to the portable dressing rooms behind the running track.
Kay then went in late on Nix and Stags fans thought the numbers might be evened up but he was shown only a yellow.
Gate should have equalised on 66 minutes when Kay sent in a firm, low cross through everyone and Gate, with only Marriott to beat, turned a tame finish straight to the keeper with the goal at his mercy.
Briscoe shot over from Chris Smith’s nod down a minute later and on 68 minutes Nix was replaced by Stonehouse.
Gateshead looked to make their man advantage count and forced two corners, the second of which was pulled back low for Turnbull.
Newport won the game against Mansfield from an almost identical effort last month. But this time Marriott was down to smother.
Briscoe was booked for his foul on Clark but Brittain sent his free kick into the Mansfield wall.
Then Nelthorpe sent a powerful ball into the box which Shaw stretched to poke wide with a first time touch that could have flown anywhere.
Istead came on for Briscoe for the last 14 minutes as Stags tried to close down the home side.
But the Head were level on 80 minutes. From a short corner on the left, Brittain crossed the far post where Kay nodded home.
Gate should have made it 2-1 a minute later as he sent a close range diving header at Marriott from Brittain’s cross.
Amazingly Gate missed another chance six minutes from time after Shaw had flicked on another Brittain cross and he stretched to send a volley over the bar with Marriott again left exposed.
Gateshead turned up the heat with a string of corners and four minutes were added on, but Mansfield at least finished up with a point to take on the long journey home.
GATESHEAD: Deasy, Heckingbottom, Gate, Curtis, Clark, Brittain, Turnbull, Shaw, Nelthorpe, Mulligan, Kay. Subs: Baxter, Ferrell, Fisher, Cook, Marwood.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Smith, Naylor, Sandwith; Briscoe (Istead 76mins), Mills, Nix (Stonehouse 68mins), A. Smith; Murray, Connor (Medley 84mins). Subs not used: Duffy, Collett.
REFEREE: Peter Bankes of Bootle.
ATTENDANCE: 1,046 (324 away).