For the second week in a row Danny Rose proved to be Mansfield Town’s matchwinner as his 87th minute goal saw the Stags steal a 2-1 home win over Cambridge United this afternoon.
Stags struggled to hit top gear in a tight game against their play-off rivals, with only goal difference separating them pre-match.
United began the second half the stronger after a scoreless first half and, after Uche Ikpeazu had missed a golden chance to break the deadlock, Cambridge did go in front on 58 minutes when skipper Leon Legge headed home from a corner.
However, the Stags were level from the penalty spot through sub Jacob Mellis on 65 minutes – the Stags’ first home goal against Cambridge in 444 miserable minutes.
That finally brought the home side to life and the stage was set for Rose to bag his fourth goal of the season and secure all three points to keep the Stags in the play-off spots.
Mansfield made one change with Rose replacing Lee Angol up front.
Otherwise boss Steve Evans stuck with the side that won 1-0 at Lincoln City last weekend to make it five League games unbeaten.
For Cambridge, Shaun Derry announced an unchanged side after their 2-1 win against Coventry last weekend.
Former Stags loanee Greg Taylor was in the starting XI and another former Stags loanee, Kyle Howkins, was on their bench.
Current Stags loanee George Taft was unable to play under the terms of the loan deal.
Stags had failed to beat Cambridge in any of their last four visits to the One Call Stadium or even scored a goal.
Three of them finished 0-0 and the other a 1-0 win to Cambridge.
Stags had not scored at home against Cambridge in 379 minutes of football – the last coming in February 2013.
A cat and mouse opening saw neither keeper threatened, though Rose almost connected with an acrobatic attempt at a scissor kick six yards from goal on 10 minutes.
A minute later Ibehre sent a tame header into Logan’s arms.
It took 25 minutes for the sides to fashion a proper chance – and it fell to Cambridge as Stags failed to clear Deegan’s right wing cross and Ibehre was able to nod down for Brown to drill in a low 20 yard shot that Logan did well to parry at full stretch low to his left.
On 38 minutes, after a series of passes, Halliday saw a low shot deflect up off Digby and over the top for a corner.
Hemmings finally tested the visiting keeper on 40 minutes with a 25 yard shot on the turn, but Forde held on with ease.
Stags should have been behind on 51 minutes. Mingoia floated in a cross from the left which picked out Ibehre six yards from goal only to direct his header inches wide of the far post.
Cambridge had started the second half much the better of the sides so after 54 minutes Stags made a double change as Mellis and Anderson came on for Potter and Digby.
Ikpeazu fired low and wide on 57 minutes, then MacDonald, off balance, managed to get a shot on target at the other end seconds later.
The breakthrough finally came on 58 minutes as United grabbed the lead. Maris sent in a corner from the left and Legge met it with a header that hit the ground first before shooting high into the net.
Stags were gifted a way back into the game on 65 minutes from the penalty spot.
White charged into the box and, as he went for a return pass, he was tripped by Maris.
Mellis stepped up and tried to place the ball inside the right post. Forde guessed correctly and half-stopped it, but the ball managed to run over the line to the home side’s delight.
A neat move by the home side then worked the ball to MacDonald just inside the box, but his powerful shot was always rising and comfortably cleared the bar.
At the other end Ikpeazu hooked an overhead kick wide.
Mansfield made their final change on 74 minutes as top scorer Angol replaced Hemmings up front.
With six minutes to go a long ball forward found Angol who sent a rasping half-volley at Forde.
More Stags pressure saw MacDonald and Angol have shots blocked as went entered the last five minutes.
The home side were finally ahead with three minutes to go – and Rose again was the hero.
Pearce nodded down a Mirfin ball into the box and Rose swept it past Forde with a superb finish.
In six added minutes Loan had to get his fists in the way of a vicious Mingoia blast.
STAGS: Logan; White, Pearce, Mirfin, Hunt; Potter (Mellis 54), Digby (Mellis 54), Butcher, MacDonald; Rose, Hemmings (Angol 74). Subs not used: Olejnik, Bennett, Atkinson, Sterling-James.
CAMBRIDGE: Forde, Halliday, Deegan, Taylor (Howkins 90), Legge, Mingoia, Ikpeazu, Dunk, Ibehre, Maris (Amoo 81), Brown (Elito 68). Subs not used: Mitov, Carroll, O’Neil, Foy.
REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,814 (349 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: David Mirfin.