Mansfield Town's Leasing.com Trophy hopes were agonisingly crushed in another penalty shoot-out defeat after a 2-2 draw at Port Vale tonight.
The visitors looked down and out after second half goals from Rhys Browne and Jake Taylor cancelled out CJ Hamilton’s opener at Vale Park.
But Stags’ super sub Omari Sterling-James came off the bench to force a shoot-out before Hamilton and Mal Benning both saw spot kicks saved by Scott Brown as the visitors crashed out.
Stags’ shot-stopper Bobby Olejnik pulled off a string of fine saves in normal time.
Captain Krystian Pearce missed out due to illness, whilst Kellan Gordon was rested after undergoing a scan for a back niggle.
The Stags withstood some early pressure from the hosts.
Scott Burgess should have done better when he blasted over a volley before Olejnik was tested by a David Worrall stinger.
Vale striker Mark Cullen missed a couple of decent chances before the break as the hosts piled on the pressure. First the Blackpool loanee fired wide before nodding off target.
Just before the break Cullen managed to get an effort on target with Olejnik pulling off a good stop.
Defender Nathan Smith then headed wide as Vale failed to take advantage of their chances.
The Stags stormed out of the blocks after the restart with Andy Cook testing keeper Scott Brown before Hamilton put the visitors ahead in the 50th minute.
Cook showed decent strength to fend off the Valiants’ defence before laying off to Hamilton to fire home the opener.
Olejnik did well to keep out Rhys Browne, who fired across goal after bursting into the box and before the hour mark Alex MacDonald’s rasping strike was kept out.
Olejnik was at it again to keep out Browne after he was found by a nifty Worrall chipped pass.
But he was finally beaten in the 64th minute when Browne levelled up with a fine strike.
Benning almost immediately reclaimed the lead when he gave Brown a scare with a long-range free-kick.
But Taylor came off the bench to bag to fire home a superb volley after chesting down Worrall’s pin-point cross.
However, it wasn't over yet and Sterling-James sent the match to a shoot-out with his stoppage-time strike only to see Vale scored all four from the spot as Hamilton and Benning missed.
Port Vale: Brown, Atkinson, Smith, Evans, Brisley (Legge, 35), Joyce, Burgess, Lloyd (Taylor, 74), Worrall, Cullen, Browne. Unused subs: Campbell-Gordon, Amoo, Taylor, Bennett, Archer, Morrison.
Mansfield: Olejnik, Clarke, Shaughnessy, Sweeney, Benning, MacDonald (Sterling-James, 87), Smith (Knowles, 87), Bishop, Khan (Mellis, 74), Hamilton, Cook. Unused subs: Logan, Maynard, Tomlinson, Afolayan.
Referee: Marc Edwards.
Attendance: 1,164 (104).