Two goals in the final nine minutes saw Mansfield Town snatch a breathtaking 4-3 away win in an absolute thriller at League Two strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge this afternoon.
Krystian Pearce headed home an 81st minute equaliser to finally make it 3-3 in an end-to-end affair before sub Adi Yussuf’s first League goal four minutes from time sewed up Stags’ second away win in five days and their first back-to-back wins this season.
An amazing first half had seen Mansfield go in trailing 3-2 in an end-to-end 45 minutes that could have ended up 6-6 as both sides served up a goals treat in the East London sunshine.
Mal Benning volleyed Stags into a spectacular sixth minute lead, but Matt McClure levelled within three minutes.
Mansfield were then rocked by two goals in three minutes by Ashley Chambers on 30 and 32 minutes, but bit back from the spot on 37 minutes through Matt Green.
It was Stags’ first penalty success in 104 games, going back to October 2013!
Ryan Tafazolli and Craig Westcarr both wasted gilt-edges chances while home keeper Liam O’Brian also made two key saves as it seemed the Daggers might chalk up their first home win of the campaign.
The second half saw Stags pushing forwards almost continually though Brian Jensen did have one big save to make from a counter-attack.
But Mansfield saved the best for last as they struck twice to finally wrap up the points to move up to sixth in League Two.
Mitch Rose was made to wait for his first team return as boss Adam Murray kept an unchanged side.
Rose missed the midweek 2-0 win at Stevenage – described by Murray as the ‘perfect away performance’ - with a one-game suspension.
But Jamie McGuire came in and did a superb job in his absence and was rewarded by keeping the shirt, turning in another gutsy display.
Mansfield made a bright start to the game and were rewarded with a spectacular opening goal after just six minutes.
Dagenham half-cleared a right wing cross out towards Benning just outside the box, and he met it with a searing right-foot volley that almost burst the net as it zipped into the top left corner, giving O’Brien no chance.
Soon after Jack Thomas flicked a header on target from a Hunt cross, but it was at the keeper.
However, with their first attack of the day, the Daggers were level after nine minutes.
McClure took possession just outside the box, looked up and hesitatnt defending allowed him to drill a low finish inside the right hand post.
Four minutes later Tafazolli wasted a golden chance to restore Mansfield’s advantage.
Chapman floated in a corner from the left and Tafazolli was left completely unmarked in the centre from six yards but failed to keep his header down, the ball flying over the bar.
Then Green was too high with an acrobatic volley as a Westcarr cross was partially cleared.
The home side made another rare foray forward on 18 minutes as Ferdinand rose highest over Tafazolli to send a header well over from a left wing cross.
Suddenly the home side were getting a foothold in the game and on 20 minutes Jones went down the right and put in a dangerous cross that McGuire, in trying to block, sliced against his own bar.
The ball was rolled back into the path of the incoming Chambers who swung a boot but completely missed the ball at the vital moment.
Connors was booked on 27 minutes for flying in on a tackle on Westcarr.
Benning put the free kick over to the far post from the left and Tafazolli met it with a well-placed downward header that O’Brien did brilliantly to block at the foot of the post.
Mansfield looked like they were slowly getting back on top, but two home goals in three minutes left Mansfield on the ropes.
On the half-hour Boucaud sent a fabulous through ball into the box for Chambers to chase. He got there, sidestepped a sliding block by Tafazolli and then went inside Benning before slotting a finish beyond Jensen.
Two minutes later a long Connors through ball saw Chambers outpace Tafazolli in the box and nick the ball past the advancing Jensen.
Mansfield needed a quick reply, and it came on 37 minutes from Green.
The striker won the penalty himself as he tried to turn in between Connors and Dikamona and they sandwiched him, Green quickly going down.
His penalty kick was far from the best, having already missed one this season, but they all count. It wasn’t well struck but managed to find its way under the dive of the keeper straight down the middle.
Immediately Murray sent on Yussuf for Jack Thomas, Westcarr moving into midfield.
On 45 minutes the Stags wasted another great opportunity.
This time Yussuf showed quality in turning his man by the corner flag to get over a great cross. Westcarr rose seven yards out unchallenged, but sent his header over.
Luckily for Mansfield, Dagenham were just as wasteful as entered three added minutes, Chambers crossing from the right, Hemmings running in to plant a free header over.
At the other end McGuire was too high after a good series of passes and, seconds before the whistle, Green turned 25 yards out and sent on a low shot that O’Brien turned round, scrambling away to his right.
McClure ended the half limping and rubbing the back of his leg as if he had pulled a muscle.
Indeed, he failed to reappear, veteran goal ace Cureton taking over up front.
Within three minutes O’Brien had made another important save as Yussuf played the ball to his left to Lambe, who bundled a shot on target that the keeper pushed away.
Tafazolli and Westcarr had efforts blocked as Stags continued their good start to the second half.
And they thought they had been rewarded with an equaliser on 52 minutes when Green got on the end of a Tafazolli flick at the far post to help the ball over the line only to see an offside flag raised.
Tafazolli headed a Benning free kick wide at the far post on 65 minutes.
It was all Mansfield with Jensen a spectator almost the whole half.
But he was called upon to make a superb save on 69 minutes as Dagenham produced a counter attack which saw Cureton sneak in behind Tafazolli and curl a finish towards the top corner that Jensen reached up and tipped over superbly.
With 15 minutes to go Stags made another change as Nathan Thomas took over from Westcarr.
Cureton was inches away with a dipping shot on on 79 minutes that bounced just wide of the far post.
However, on 81 minutes Mansfield were finally level. Chapman launched a right wing corner to the far post and Pearce ran at it to bury a rocket header.
Still the thrills were not over and with four minutes to go sub Yussuf grabbed his first ever league goal to put Mansfield ahead.
Yussuf ran at goal in the right of the box, teased a defender and then, from not the best of angles, drilled a powerful low shot under the keeper.
Collins replaced Green with two minutes to go.
Dagenham twice came close with crosses a minute later, Jensen punching one away and watching the other pass inches wide with no one able to get there.
In the three minutes of stoppage time he safely clutched a Hemmings header above his head and Stags were finally home and dry.
DAGENHAM: O’Brien, Connors, Dikamona, Boucaud, McClure (Cureton HT), Chambers, Jones (Doidge 69), Hemmings, Ferdinand, Obileye, Widdowson. Subs not used: Cousins, Nosworthy, Raymond, Hamalainen, Hoyte.
STAGS: Jensen; Hunt, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Lambe, McGuire, Chapman, Jack Thomas (Yussuf 38); Westcarr (Nathan Thomas 75); Green (Collins 88). Subs not used: Shearer, Rose, Beardsley, Blair.
REFEREE: Brendan Malone of Wiltshire.
ATTENDANCE: 1,597 (193 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamie McGuire.
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