Mansfield Town's play-off hopes suffered a dramatic late blow today as Tom Pope's late goal earned visiting Port Vale a 1-1 draw.
Pope popped up just as Stags looked to have claimed three hard-earned points through a Kyle Howkins own goal on 72 minutes.
With rivals Lincoln City winning 2-1, the gap to the top seven is now three points with only two games to play.
Stags deserved to win it over the 90 minutes, dominating the game and creating plenty of chances, Alfie Potter and Danny Rose wasting great opportunities early in the second half.
But those misses came back to haunt them as Pope headed in a Dan Turner cross to break home hearts.
There were three changes to the Mansfield line-up. Stags lost Hayden White and Zander Diamond to injuries while Jacob Mellis was dropped to the bench.
Into the back four came Paul Digby and Rhys Bennett with CJ Hamilton restored to the midfield.
Vale made two changes as Charlie Raglan and Danny Pugh came in for Joe Davis and Anton Forrester.
They included former Stags loanee Kyle Howkins in their defence.
It took Stags four minutes to really get out of their own half as Vale applied the early pressure.
A poor header out by Howkins fell to Rose almost 30 yards out and his shot was straight at the keeper and an easy catch in the first chance of the game.
Seconds later Rose fed Potter to his right and his sharp effort was held by Hornby at his near post.
Vale's first effort came on 10 minutes as Pope set up Tongue for a powerful shot from 25 yards that zipped just over the crossbar.
Mansfield went straight upfield where Rose rolled the ball into MacDonald's path on the edge of the box and he tried to place it sidefooted but was wide of the right post.
Soon after Gibbons made a great tackle on Potter as he tried to burst past him in the box.
Then Benning put a low cross-cum-shot right across the face of goal while Hamilton sent a low shot straight at Hornby as the home side ramped up the pressure.
MacDonald forced Hornby into his first serious save on 24 minutes as he changed direction 25 yards from goal and let fly, forcing the keeper to dive full length to his right to grab.
Bennett led a Stags break on 32 minutes, his final pass to Rose seeing the striker force Hornby down to make another good save.
Benning was having another excellent half and he also warmed Hornby's hands on 35 minutes after cutting inside from the left.
MacDonald then launched a long ball down the right which Hemmings ran onto but, with Hornby having left his line, his shy at the empty net was well over the bar.
Stags won the first two corners of the game and Pugh wasn't far wide of heading into his own net as he defended an early Potter cross.
Veteran Tongue had to go off injured in the final minute of the half, replaced by Whitfield.
Mansfield might have gone ahead three minutes after the break after a promising burst down the right by MacDonald only to see Potter scuff his finish wide from seven yards when the ball was squared towards him.
Smith then timed his tackle well on Hemmings in the box after Potter looked to have sent him away down the middle.
Stags won two corners, Pope heading the first of them onto the roof of his own net and Kay heading the second clear.
On 55 minutes Hornby again came to Vale's rescue, blocking a powerful Digby drive onto a loose ball.
Vale were starting to waste time whenever possible and Whitfield was booked for delaying a free kick on 61 minutes.
Stags upped the ante a minute later as defender Digby was replaced by midfielder Mellis.
Rose wasted another great chance for Stags on 63 minutes when he flicked a header over from six yards from a superb Benning cross, Howkins then booked for dissent.
Logan made his first important save of the afternoon on 67 minutes when he blocked Hannant's low effort.
Howkins was lucky not to be sent off for tugging Atkinson's short as he raced past him, given a final warning.
Mansfield finally took the lead on 72 minutes through a bizarre own goal.
Raglan tried to clear a scuffed Rose shot but fired it towards his own net where it struck Howkins and went over the line.
Rose was booked soon after for a cynical trip on Gibbons, quickly followed by Hannant and then Hemmings.
Stags almost doubled their lead on a breakaway, but Hamilton, leading the charge, failed to see Rose free to his right and passed left to Hemmings instead and the shot was blocked.
Angol replaced Hemmings for the last seven minutes.
However, a minute from time the visitors had a sting in the tail as they broke forward down the left and Turner's cross was headed in by Tom Pope from inside the six yard box.
In five added minutes Whitfield burst along the left by-line and forced Logan to save at his post as Stags almost lost it.
STAGS: Logan, Digby (Mellis 62), Bennett, Pearce, Benning, Potter, Atkinson, MacDonald, Hamilton, Hemmings (Angol 83), Rose. Subs not used: Olejnik, Hunt, Anderson, King, Graham.
VALE: Hornby, Raglan, Kay, Pugh (Turner 74), Pope, Worrall, Gibbons, Smith, Tongue (Whitfield 45), Howkins, Hannant. Subs not used: Boot, Howe, Davis, Barnett, Forrester.
REFEREE: Carl Boyeson of Hull.
ATTENDANCE: 4,210 (598 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Krystian Pearce.