AN Exodus Geohaghon own goal three minutes from the break gifted York City an equaliser after Ross Dyer’s 26th minute header had put Mansfield in the box seat in tonight’s BSBP play-off semi-final first leg clash at Bootham Crescent.
Stags went into the game on a run of 13 wins and a draw in 15 games but were given their most searching examination for months by Gary Mills’ men who bossed much of the half.
Stags, who lost defender Martin Riley to injury after only 18 minutes, clung on, weathered the storm and then snatched the lead through Dyer from a long Geohaghon throw.
But the defender then stretched out a leg to turn a low Jon Challinor cross past his own keeper just before the break to give York a deserved share of the first half spoils.
York began well and it took a great tackle from Riley to concede a corner and stop Chambers getting in on goal from Walker’s reverse pass.
From the corner, Stags let the ball bounce in the box and Doig lifted a quick finish over.
The Minstermen were clearly fired up and another corner soon followed which Stags hacked clear.
It took Mansfield six minutes to get out of their half as Geohaghon’s first long throws were easily repelled from both flanks inside a minute.
There was a hold-up for treatment to Riley on 18 minutes and eventually he had to go off, replaced by left back Andrew with Sutton going to centre half.
On 20 minutes from a half-cleared Geohaghon throw, Roberts chipped the ball temptingly into the box and Howell flicked a header just over.
York had the ball in the net on 22 minutes as Marriott came for but didn’t grab a long free kick, Smith andf Howell challenging and the ball running loose to Blair who saw an offside flag raised as he turned it over the line.
McLaughlin twisted and turned on the edge of the box before seeing his firm shot deflect for City’s third corner.
Stags won a corner 30 yards from goal in a good, central position which was O’Neill territory. But he curled it well over to the jeers of the home fans.
However, Stags made the crucial breakthrough on 26 minutes.
It stemmed from another superb cannonball throw from Geohaghon to the near post where Dyer rose to plant a firm header past a helpless Ingham.
Two minutes later Roberts was lucky to only get a warning for a studs-showing tackle on Challinor which could have merited a card of either colour from some officials.
Blair crashed into Sutton in the box and went down looking for a penalty. But the referee was having none of it.
Smith then clattered Green late in full flight to see the first yellow card of the contest.
Soon after Dyer headed a long free kick towards goal where the keeper beat Roberts to the ball.
On 33 minutes Marriott had his first real save to make as he beat away a powerful 16 yard shot from Chambers.
Marriott stretched high to then turn away a Blair cross from the right with Walker kicking fresh air as it landed in front of him.
Blair found McLaughlin inside him on a raid down the right, but the long, hopeful shot was always well over the bar.
Home fans were furious on 40 minutes when they felt Roberts had got away with a foul before sending a through ball over the top for Green to chase.
Ingham left his box and got there first as Green challenged. The whistle went and a foul was given as the keeper stayed down hurt which seemed harsh as Green had to go for a challenge. Even worse, out came the yellow card.
But the evening turned even sourer on 42 minutes as Stags gifted York an equaliser.
Challinor whipped in a superb low cross from wide on the right and no one dealt with it as it skidded across the box where Geohaghon stretched out a leg and inadvertently diverted it into his own net.
Suddenly Stags were creaking and on 44 minutes Chambers played in Walker down the middle but, with just Marriott to beat, he slotted his finish wide of the far post.
In stoppage time the usually deadly Green mis-kicked a half chance from a Geohaghon throw and Roberts crashed the follow-up well over.
And right on the whistle Meikle had a shot blocked and then saw Ingham turn his follow-up over the end a tense and thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes.