AFC Mansfield made the comeback of all comebacks when Declan Brewin scored in the last minute to rescue a point for 10-men Bulls after they had trailed 3-0 at home to Shirebrook Town in this NCEL Division One clash.
A bumper crowd of 311 certainly got their money’s worth in this edge of the seat local derby.
Trailing 3-0 and reduced to 10 men, the Mansfield side must have thought it was all over.
But goals from Ryan Williams, Joe Naylor and Brewin silenced the vociferous Shirebrook following.
Shirebrook made the better start as the home side looked as if they were still getting over Christmas, and it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead on 12 minutes.
Indecision at the back allowed Kieron Watson to turn neatly in the box and fire a low drive past Jason White from 12 yards.
Shirebrook continued to have the better of the exchanges and Kyle Ludlow was forced to block a Liam Morris shot on goal after 16 minutes.
The home side finally managed to get into the game with Joe McCormack getting behind a Dean Rick low drive on 22 minutes.
Back at the other end Morris fired high and wide on 26 minutes.
Craig Mitchell found the sidenetting with his effort on the half-hour mark as AFC began to get back into the game. Mitchell then headed a Ryan Williams cross wide of the mark on 35 minutes.
Things got worse for the home side towards the end of the first half when Danny Naylor was booked for a late challenge and then a minute later made another clumsy challenge for his second yellow card, reducing the Bulls to 10 men.
The introduction of Scott Rickards to replace Kyle Ludlow at the start of the second half was going to have an effect on the game later on.
But in the meantime it just got worse for AFC Mansfield as Jamie York hit a dipping shot from just outside the box on 51 minutes that flashed past White and in off the underside of the bar to double the visitors’ lead.
Will Dennis fired well wide on the hour mark and Rick thought he had reduced the arrears on 62 minutes, firing home from a Ryan Williams cross, only to be denied by a linesman’s flag.
Instead Shirebrook made it 3-0 on 75 minutes, Matt Plant forcing the ball home inside the six yard box from a corner.
The visitors then decided to sit deep and invite the home side on, and with room to operate in midfield, Rickards and Williams began to take control.
The chanting from the Shirebrook fans got louder as they mocked AFC manager Rudy Funk, unfortunately it was ill advised as in the next 13 minutes their cheers turned to despair as their team surrendered an unassailable position.
Williams hit a superb looping first time effort from just outside the box to beat McCormack on 77 minutes and Shirebrook started to get nervous.
On 82 minutes Brewin delivered a cross to the far post where Joe Naylor’s header was turned around the post by Dennis.
At the other end Watson raced clear only to be denied by some superb keeping by White. From the resulting corner Plant headed wide with a free header.
The comeback continued on 87 minutes when Joe Naylor headed home on the far post from a Rickards cross.
White again denied Watson a minute later in another one on one and this was to cost Shirebrook dearly.
White found Brewin down the right flank and the young striker raced to the edge of the box and unleashed a stinging drive that flew into the top corner to bring the scores level.
A chant of ‘you’re not singing anymore’ rang out from the Mansfield fans as Shirebrook looked shellshocked.
The game had just enough time to restart before the referee blew the final whistle, and to be fair if it had carried on for a further five minutes AFC Mansfield looked the more likely to win it.
The referee explained after the match he had played just over six minutes added time due to a couple of injuries, four goals, five substitutions and countless times when the ball had been hoofed out of the playing area by an increasingly desperate visiting defence.
In truth AFC weren’t at their best, but Shirebrook failed to finish off the game when they had the chances to.
It all means that the return fixture in a month’s time promises to be cracker of a game and one not to be missed.
AFC MANSFIELD: White, Ludlow (Rickards 45), Dudley, Kitchen, Timons, J. Naylor, R. Williams, D. Naylor, Rick (Brewin 66), Mitchell, Whitman (Buxton 83). Subs not used: Tighe, Vilums.
SHIREBROOK TOWN: McCormack, Dennis, Dawson (Chambers 65), Weaver, Plant, Campion, York, Hanson, Morris (Green 88), Shepherd, Watson. Subs not used: Ellis, Cook.
REFEREE: Lee Freeman of South Yorkshire.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Jason White (AFC Mansfield), Jamie York (Shirebrook Town).