Sub Andy Cook picked the perfect time to open his Mansfield Town goals account with a brilliant brace as the battling Stags fought back from two behind to snatch a fine 2-2 away draw at high-flying Forest Green Rovers this afternoon.
Aaron Collins stunning 30th minute strike and Jack Aitchison’s goal just after the hour back looked to have condemned the Stags to a fifth league defeat of the campaign at the New Lawn.
But forward Cook had other ideas as he scored twice in the space of 11 crazy second half minutes as the visitors stretched their promising unbeaten run to three games.
On-song keeper Conrad Logan pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the visitors in the contest as John Dempster’s side backed up fine wins over Grimsby and Oldham in their last two league outings.
Dempster made three changes to his side that hammered the Latics 6-1 in their last league outing.
Defender Matt Preston made a welcome return to the starting line-up having served his four-match suspension.
He replaced Ryan Sweeney in the heart of the defence with his fellow centre-back suspended having accumulated five yellow cards.
Wing-back Hayden White also missed out through suspension.
Top scorer Danny Rose was also missing after suffering an ankle injury in training on Thursday, with winger CJ Hamilton handed the chance to shine away from home.
The other change was midfielder Alex MacDonald, who has a hip injury, replaced by Willem Tomlinson as the visitors looked to keep their promising unbeaten run going.
Rovers started brightly and forward Matt Stevens rifled a long-distance shot past Logan’s post before a minute later the keeper denied goalscorer Collins with a smart block.
But then Collins found the back of the net with a thunderous long-range rocket which left Logan no chance. It was the 22-year-old Welshman’s third goal in five games.
Defender Dominic Bernard headed into the side netting as the hosts pushed for a second goal, then Logan denied Liam Shephard with a fine save 10 minutes before the break.
However, Aitchison rifled home from 25 yards to double the lead on 61 minutes to seemingly leave the Stags with a mountain to climb.
But Cook, who had replaced Tomlinson at half-time, valiantly came to their rescue to finally open his account for the club.
His first was a lovely header from Otis Khan’s pinpoint cross just two minutes after the hosts had extended their advantage.
Then his second was a sweetly-taken volley which squirmed under keeper Lewis Thomas on 74 minutes to grab a deserved share of the spoils.
Cook might even have won it with a hat-trick but saw Thomas scramble across his line to save his 85th minute shot on the turn.
MANSFIELD: Logan, Gordon, Pearce, Preston, Benning, Shaughnessy, Bishop, Tomlinson (Cook 45), Hamilton (Afolyan 58), Maynard (Knowles 90+3), Khan. SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Clarke, Sterling-James, Smith.
REFEREE: Ollie Yates
ATTENDANCE: 2,276 (309 away).