Mansfield Town marched on into round two of the FA Youth Cup after surviving a thrilling finish to see off Doncaster Rovers 4-3 at the One Call Stadium last night.
Stags U18s had come from behind to lead 4-2 near the end, but Rovers pulled one back with three minutes to go and Stags were immediately left hanging on after Maison Campbell was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident.
Rio Molyneaux and Jimmy Knowles both bagged a brace for Mansfield in a game in which the young guns thoroughly entertained the 150 crowd.
The visitors were rewarded for a bright start with a sixth minute lead as, after some good work by Jack Watson, the ball fell kindly to Junior Smith. The Stags’ appeals for offside were waved away by the referee as Smith’s deflected strike found the bottom corner.
Chances continued to flow for both sides in an end-to-end game and Shamar Lawson was desperately unlucky not to level on 24 minutes when his curling effort cannoned off the crossbar and bounced on the goal-line.
But Knowles finally produced an equaliser on 39 minutes when the ball broke to the forward on the edge of the box and he drilled low past keeper Ben Bottomley.
Rovers began the second half strongly, keeping goalkeeper Campbell busy until Stags went up the other end and took the lead on 56 minutes as Molyneaux latched onto an inviting cross from the left-hand side to leave Bottomley with no chance.
But Mansfield were pegged back on 64 minutes as Smith scored his second of the game. Hasani found Walker on the right and he played a low cut-back from which the striker fired home emphatically.
Both teams went in search of the crucial fifth goal, and it was the home side who found it on 76 minutes as Ethan Hill sent a defence-splitting pass to Ben Bayliss on the right, who set up Knowles with space in the area to bury his finish.
On 82 minutes, Molyneaux appeared to wrap up the game with the best goal of the night as he cut inside from the right and chipped the ball over Bottomley from 25 yards.
But Rovers were not finished and three minutes from time a goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall kindly to McGowan who finished calmly to keep the game alive.
In the aftermath, Campbell was red-carded to set up a nervy six minutes of stoppage time, Owan Derrett slicing a great chance wide as Stags held on under huge pressure to stay in the hat for round two.
MANSFIELD: Campbell, Bayliss, Sketchley, Tomlin, Cooper, Armsden, Molyneaux (Boyle), Hill, Scott, Knowles, Lawson. UNUSED SUBS: King, Saunders, Jones, Ingram, Fisher, Adams.
DONCASTER: Bottomley, Walker Clemiston (83), Cunningham, Hasani, Dimou, Blythe, Ravenhill, McGowan, Watson, Conradi (Bell 59), Smith (Derrett 85). UNUSED SUBS: Johnson, Jemson, Nelson.
REFEREE: Matthew Bacon.