Former Mansfield Town striker Ollie Palmer had the last laugh as he stole a last minute equaliser for Lincoln City to spoil David Flitcroft’s first game in charge of the home side as a thriller ended 1-1.
Palmer was mocked by home fans as he came on as a sub 10 minutes from time but was on hand to put away Matt Rhead’s flick on 90 minutes.
On 49 minutes interval sub Joel Byrom’s first goal for the club had put Mansfield in charge and, despite City’s efforts, looked to be enough until the death.
In the five added minutes City had ex-Stags loanee Luke Waterfall sent off for throwing a plastic bottle with home defender Rhys Bennett following him for a second bookable offence.
Pressing high and hard, energetic Lincoln had the best of a tight first half in which neither keeper had a serious save to make.
Mansfield looked to have taken control with the goal, but Lincoln threw everything plus the kitchen sink forward, mostly towards ex-Stag Rhead, and got their just desserts in the end.
New boss Flitcroft was forced into making one change.
With Alfie Potter nursing a slight knock, Hayden White was brought back in at right back with Paul Anderson pushed forward to right wing.
Potter was said to be 70 per cent fit and could be okay to play by the weekend.
That change was the first in four games after three unchanged.
Flitcroft took over as manager last Thursday following the shock departure of Steve Evans, who resigned last Tuesday.
The new manager’s first game in charge was due to be away at Stevenage last weekend but the fixture was postponed due to the bad weather.
Over 6,000 tickets were sold for the all-ticket fixture between two sides going for promotion with Lincoln’s squad including four ex-Stags in Matt Green, Matt Rhead, Ollie Palmer and Luke Waterfall.
City were looking to bounce straight back from a shock 4-1 home defeat by Crewe last time out.
After a frenetic first five minutes Lincoln threatened first as Rhead got in a back post header from a tight angle from Eardley’s long cross only to find Logan perfectly positioned to grab.
King was late in the tackle on Woodyard on 11 minutes, but with the away fans screaming for a red card, the referee pulled out a yellow.
When Stags struggled to clear the free kick, Rhead hooked the ball goalwards and, although it went past Logan, it lacked pace and Benning was easily able to block and clear.
King’s challenge on Williams made sure the City man fired well over in the visitors’ next raid as Lincoln remained on top.
Waterfall guided a header wide from a long cross soon afterwards as Mansfield continued to weather the early onslaught.
It took Stags 18 minutes to fashion a chance as Anderson crossed from the right and Rose controlled before lashing well over.
Eardley got in a vital block to a low Hamilton cross after Anderson had led a Stags breakaway on 20 minutes.
Seconds later the winger set up a low 20 yard drive by MacDonald that wasn’t too far wide as the home side finally began to warm to their task.
Frecklington was booked for bringing down MacDonald on 22 minutes, having already been warned.
Stags cranked the pressure up with two corners, but City were still dangerous and Williams saw his shot on the turn deflect for a corner from a Rhead flick on 28 minutes.
A minute later Green set up Frecklington on the edge of the box with a low on-target shot that Logan was down to gather.
Hemmings and Hamilton fed the ball to Rose inside the City box on 32 minutes, the the top scorer’s finish was always rising over.
Williams looked set to be booked for bringing down MacDonald in full flight, but the referee decided the Stags man had dived and awarded a Lincoln free kick instead.
On 36 minutes Bostwell was too high from 25 yards after Logan had decided to punch a cross away rather than catch.
Williams forced Logan to save another good shot on the turn on 39 minutes.
Logan was relieved to see a ricochet off Green fall to him with the striker ready to pounce as Stags went in happy to be on level terms after a trying half.
Byrom replaced King in the home midfield for the second half.
The midfielder made an immediate impact as he broke the deadlock within four minutes.
White sent a curling cross over from the right after good hold-up play by Hemmings and Byrom was there to glance a close range header out of the keeper’s reach.
Lincoln came so close to levelling on 57 minutes as Green hooked an acrobatic overhead kick over the bar from six yards from a corner.
Bostwick flattened Rose from behind on 69 minutes to earn a caution.
Then a great turn and break down the left saw Hamilton hit full speed before cutting inside and sending a disappointing shot at the keeper.
Rhead’s protests at a challenge saw him added to the book on 74 minutes.
With Lincoln again pressing hard Stags threw on Spencer up front to hold the ball up in place of Hemmings for the last 14 minutes.
Atkinson replaced Anderson for the last 10 minutes while Palmer was booed as he replaced Green.
Soon after Bennett was yellow-carded for kicking the ball away as we entered the last eight nervous minutes.
But Palmer had the perfect answer to the boo boys with a last minute equaliser. Rhead headed the ball on to the far post where Palmer shaped to drill home from close range.
Before we kicked off again Waterfall was sent off for apparently throwing a plastic bottle hurled from the stand back towards the fans.
Bennett, already booked, was then red-carded on 90+3 for a second bookable offence to even it up again as a thrilling evening ended honours even.
STAGS: Logan; White, Bennett, Pearce, Benning; P. Anderson (Atkinson 80), King (Byrom HT), MacDonald, Hamilton; Rose, Hemmings (Spencer 76). Subs not used: Olejnik, Diamond, Mellis, Angol.
LINCOLN: Allsop, Habergham, Waterfall, Wharton, Rhead, Green (Palmer 80), Williams (Rowe 64), Bostwick, Frecklington (H. Anderson 67), Eardley, Woodyard. Subs not used: Farman, Long, Whitehouse, Pett. REFEREE: Graham Salisbury of Lancashire.
ATTENDANCE: 6,091 (no away figure announced). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Hayden White.