Two late goals from in-form Wycombe Wanderers broke Mansfield Town hearts as the visitors snatched a 2-1 victory in tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final at One Call Stadium.
Wanderers made a double change on 66 minutes and both those substitutes netted to ease them through and make it 16 games unbeaten.
The Stags looked in charge thanks to Matt Green’s first half penalty, but a rare mistake from on-loan keeper Jake Kean let in Scott Kashket on 72 minutes and a piece of quality finishing by Ade Akinfenwa nine minutes form time snatched them the win.
It was a full-blooded cup tie with plenty of chances, but Stags saw their six-game unbeaten run halted and dreams of Wembley shattered just two steps away from a big day out 30 years after they won the trophy.
It was also a seventh successive game they have failed to beat one of their bogey sides in Wycombe.
Mansfield made five changes on the night. With Joel Byrom, Shaq Coulthirst, Ben Whiteman and Hayden White all cup-tied and Danny Rose rested to the bench, in came Matt Green and Yoann Arquin up front, and James Baxendale, Jamie McGuire and Jack Thomas into the midfield.
Lee Collins moved into the vacant right back slot with McGuire as defensive midfielder.
Stags went into the tie six games unbeaten but were up against a formidable Wycombe side that were unbeaten in their last 15 games and had not lost any of their last six encounters with the Stags.
The home side had two youngsters making up the numbers on the bench in Cameron Healey and Zayn Hakeem.
Wanderers, with one eye on Saturday’s big FA Cup tie at Tottenham Hotspur made six changes from their starting line-up last weekend.
Wycombe made a positive start and Bean had a shot blocked before the pressure was kept on and eventually Saunders blazed well over with less than two minutes elapsed.
A minute later Bennett sent the home side’s first effort wide of the left post from 12 yards in Stags’ first raid.
Bennett then flicked a header wide from a long Baxendale cross from the right on nine minutes as the sides sized each other up.
On 15 minutes Saunders scuffed a volley at Kean from a Pearce clearance.
Bennett then sent a long ball forward for Green, who did well to control and tee up Arquin, though he flashed his finish wide.
The action continues as seconds later Green got a shot on target from the right hand edge of the box that Blackman gathered to his right.
But on 21 minutes the home side came very close after good pressure, Arquin crossing towards Bennett from the left and the ball breaking for Pearce to smash a rising half-volley over from 12 yards.
Four minutes later Green pulled an ambitious low 25 yard drive wide of the near post as the home side continued to plug away.
The breakthrough finally came on 34 minutes from the penalty spot.
Benning picked up the ball to the left of the home box and went on a magnificent burst up the wing before crossing into the opposition box where Jacobson clearly controlled the ball with his hand,
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and, although Blackman guessed the right way, Green’s kick had just enough on it to see it under the keeper’s dive and into the left side of the net.
There was a moment of worry as a Cowan-Hall cross from the left was not dealt with by either Pearce or Kean, but the loose ball was eventually cleared.
McGuire was again warned for his challenge on Saunders and in the second minute of added time Saunders flattened McGuire into the home dug-out.
Evans and Paul Raynor from the home bench got involved in the row and eventually the half ended with a yellow card for Saunders.
Thomas almost got Green in during the opening seconds of the second half, but Blackman was off his line quickly to beat him to the ball.
Thomas was booked for lunging into a tackle on 47 minutes, O’Nien staying down until the card was produced.
Another great run by Benning on the left saw him swap passes with Green and smash a low shot across the face of goal on 51 minutes.
But Wycombe might have levelled on 54 minutes as Cowan-Hall was offered a free header from a Jacobson corner and sent it over the bar.
Bennett was wide from 20 yards as the half-chances continued to flow.
Stags looked comfortable but were undone by a goal from nothing on 72 minutes.
Muller tried his luck from 30 yards with a vicious shot that Kean was behind but spilled and sub Kashket was on hand to prod home from close range.
Stags were then rocked nine minutes from time as Bean launched the ball into the home box from the left and Akinfenwa controlled on his chest, turned and prodded past Kean from eight yards.
Benning’s shot was saved and Hamilton’s follow-up charged down as Stags looked for a way back.
Danny Rose was inches wide from 18 yards in the final minute of the 90 and Wycomkbe held out in five added minutes for glory.
STAGS: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Collins (Hoban 88), Pearce, Green, Baxendale (Hemmings 82), Arquin (Rose 82), Thomas, Hamilton, McGuire. Subs not used: Shearer, Hurst, Healey, Hakeem.
WYCOMBE: Blackman, Jombati, Jacobson, Thompson (Akinfenwa 66), Bean (Wood 84), Cowan-Hall (Kashket 66), O’Nien, Weston, Muller, De Havilland, Saunders. Subs not used: Richardson, Pierre, Harriman, Freeman.
REFEREE: David Webb of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 2,047 (108 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Mal Benning.