Lincoln City thought they’d grabbed all three points when super-sub Kellan Gordon fired home in the 85th minute, however it wasn’t to be as Jacob Mellis smashed in the equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.
The draw puts the Imps back to the top of the table, although it may only be momentarily as MK Dons kick-off at three o’clock and can regain top spot.
The Imps went in to Saturdays’s early kick-off well rested following a two week break. Danny Cowley’s men were in second place just a point behind league leaders MK Dons with a game in hand.
Lincoln were looking for their first win over Mansfield at Sincil Bank since January 2005 when Ciaran Toner and Simon Yeo bagged the goals.
Just 71 miles and five points separated The Imps from The Stags before kick-off, which created a booming atmosphere at a packed out Sincil Bank.
A bright start from the Imps saw the home side win a corner in the first minute. Michael O’Connor played a header from the edge of the box but the Mansfield defence cleared in front of their travelling fans.
Josh Vickers produced a stunning save low down to his right after 12 minutes to prevent Danny Rose giving the away side the lead.
In the 19th minute, Stags’ goalkeeper Robert Olejnik created his own problems when he gave the ball away as John Akinde closed him down. The keeper’s clearance fell straight to Bruno Andrade but his shot went just wide of the vacant goal.
Tom Pett received the first yellow card of the game for a tackle on Jacob Mellis. Minutes later, Mellis was booked after bringing down Andrade who was bursting through the midfield.
On the half hour mark, Harry Toffolo went on a weaving run. The ball fell to Shay McCartan on the edge of the box who struck a powerful shot over the bar.
On the stoke of half-time Sincil Bank called for a penalty for handball. McCartan’s attempted cross was blocked in the area but referee, Gavin Ward, turned away the appeals.
A very even first 45 minutes saw Mansfield create more chances but the home side controlled longer periods of the first-half. Both defences restricted the opposition attackers to long shots.
In the 51st minute, Toffolo sent Andrade sprinting down the left wing. He cut back inside and shot on his right foot but the effort was easily saved by Olejnik.
Akinde had a chance to put the Imps in to the lead moments later, but he was once again denied by a good save from the Stags keeper.
O’Connor almost put the Imps a goal up in the 65th minute with a curling free-kick from the left of the penalty box, but Olejnik was up to the challenge.
From the resulting corner, McCartan found Tom Pett running down the left wing, he produced a great cross for Akinde but his header went agonisingly over the bar.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Akinde twisted and turned in the area to make room for a left-footed shot but it was just too powerful and went over the crossbar.
Danny Cowley decided a change was needed with a quarter of hour to play and brought on Kellan Gordon and Matt Green for Harry Anderson and Shay McCartan.
With seven minutes remaining Cowley made his final substitution and replaced John Akinde with Matt Green.
The substitutions worked almost immediately! Lincoln City took the lead in the 85th minute through Kellan Gordon. A flick on from Rhead found Andrade on the left wing, he crossed for Green who took a touch before the ball fell to Gordon who smashed it home.
However the game wasn’t yet over. Drama at Sincil Bank in stoppage time saw Mansfield find a very late equaliser. The ball fell to Jacob Mellis on the edge of the box who produced a fantastic volley to earn a point for his side and send the travelling fans wild.
Lincoln dominated much of the second-half and will be disappointed not to take all three points from today’s derby.
The next game for the Imps is away at Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night before they are back at Sincil Bank for the second round of the FA Cup next Saturday against Carlisle United.