There was late heartbreak for nine-men Mansfield Town today as a Matt Taylor goal in the last of eight added minutes ended Stags’ unbeaten home record in an ill-tempered game at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Taylor rose to head home a James Clarke cross at the death, just after it seemed Ryan Tafazolli has rescued an unlikely point nine minutes from time.
There were three red cards in the game, two for Stags after the break as Krystian Pearce was sent off for an off-the-ball kick and skipper Nicky Hunt went for a second bookable offence, those after Rovers had ended the first half with 10 men after Jermaine Easter had been sent off.
Rovers had a goal disallowed just before the equaliser and Ellis Harrison hit the bar in a thrilling game you could not take your eyes off.
Stags trailed against the run of play at the break to Easter’s 16th minute strike, but in the end Rovers eked out their fourth win on the bounce.
Mansfield were unchanged for a fourth successive match. That meant fit-again Chris Clements had to be content with a place on the bench once more.
Rovers, managed by ex-Stag Darrell Clarke, had won their last two away League games, scoring seven times.
Stags wasted a golden chance inside the first 30 seconds of the game as Jack Thomas nodded the ball over a defender to set up Green 10 yards from goal only to see him volley over with Nicholls at his mercy.
Westcarr then had a shot blocked from a long Chapman throw.
Soon after Chapman tested the keeper with a low shot from a tight angle on the left, Nicholls down at his post to gather.
On eight minutes Easter flicked a header well wide in Rovers’ first attack of note.
We had a hold-up after 15 minutes after Lines was left hurt by a rough but fair McGuire challenge.
But on the restart, Rovers swept ahead against the run of play.
Brown sent over a great cross from the right which Leadbitter helped on and Easter ran in to smash home a rising finish from seven yards.
Anticipation was high as a home corner was pulled back towards Benning after his two superb volleyed goals in the last two games. He met it true enough, but this volley was blocked.
On 31 minutes Rovers survived a scramble in the box after their keeper and defender collided going for a cross.
Lines saw the game’s first yellow card on 35 minutes as he slid in and caught Benning from a loose pass.
A poor Tafazolli backpass on 41 minutes left Jensen in trouble as he saw Leadbitter charge down his attempted clearance, but the ball ran to safety.
Tempers flared for the umpteenth time as Benning slid in late on James Clarke to earn a booking as the Rovers man rolled around the floor trying unsuccessfully to get the card colour changed to red.
However, in the second of three added minutes Rovers found themselves down to 10 men.
Stags found themselves under pressure after Chapman gave the ball away in midfield.
Rovers worked the ball into the box where Easter threw himself to the floor with Tafazolli behind him.
The referee came across as Easter clashed with Tafazolli and McGuire and, having initially planned to show him a yellow card for the dive, ultimately showed him a straight red card for his troubles.
Rovers made a double change at the break while, six minutes into the half, Stags withdrew Jack Thomas and sent on Yussuf, hoping for a repeat of his ‘super sub’ goals from the last two games.
Four minutes later Murray threw on Clements and Nathan Thomas for McGuire and Lambe in a big roll of the dice.
On 59 minutes Jensen kept the ball in but was furious when a corner was given and was booked for his arguing.
The game boiled over soon after as Lockyer went down off the ball and Pearce was shown a red card for an apparent kick.
Players from both sides piled in and once order was restored Hunt and Harrison were also booked.
Mansfield continued to press and Westcarr poked a shot wide after swapping passes in the box with Yussuf while Nathan Thomas was high and wide from distance.
However, Stags found themselves with nine men when Hunt tripped Sinclair on a Rovers break and saw his second yellow of the day.
Rovers piled on the pressure and on 78 minutes the visitors had a goal ruled out as Taylor tucked away a low Harrison ball across goal only to see an offside flag raised.
Instead it was the nine men that roared back level on 81 minutes.
The visitors cleared the ball out the box as far as defender Tafazolli who expertly steered a low finish from 18 yards inside the right hand post to spark frenzied celebrations.
On the next attack, Harrison smashed a shot against the home crossbar.
On 87 minutes Rovers came so close to a winner as Jensen threw himself at the feet of Harrison, getting hurt in the process, and Tafazolli just managed to hook the loose ball away from the unguarded goal.
After lengthy treatment, Jensen hobbled on with the game as Stags faced a testing eight added minutes, which they survived.
STAGS: Jensen; Hunt, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Lambe (Nathan Thomas 55), Chapman, McGuire (Clements 55), Jack Thomas (Yussuf 51), Westcarr; Green. Subs not used: Shearer, Rose, Collins, Blair.
ROVERS: Nicholls, Leadbitter (Harrison HT), Brown, Lockyer, Parkes, Mansell (Gosling 84), Taylor, Lines (Ollie Clarke HT), James Clarke, Easter, Sinclair. Subs not used: Mildenhall, McChrystal, Blissett, Montano.
REFEREE: Mark Haywood of West Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 4,196 (847 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Tafazolli.