Sub Rakish Bingham pushed Mansfield Town nearer League Two safety with a late winner tonight as the Stags edged a thriller 2-1 at home to AFC Wimbledon.
Stags thought they had allowed two precious points to slip through their fingers after Ryan Tafazolli conceded a penalty on 69 minutes, 13 minutes after Lee Beevers had fired them in front.
But manager Adam Murray made three substitutions in as many minutes near the end to breath new life into his tiring team and it did the trick as Bingham swept home an 87th minute winner.
Although the gap to the bottom two remains eight points, the win did push Mansfield up to 16th place ahead of Saturday’s trip to bottom club Hartlepool.
Both sides had chances in a frantic first half in which Billy Kee hit the bar.
The Dons wasted a good chance after the break before Beevers struck with a deflected low finish to break the deadlock.
But the visitors were far from finished and, after George Francombe levelled from the spot, sub Adebayo Azeez wasted two good chances, Pidgeley making his second crucial save of the night, before Bingham stole it at the end.
Mansfield changed formation to 4-4-2.
There were two changes with Jack Thomas and Ricky Ravenhill axed from the midfield with Jamie McGuire coming into the centre and Kee joining Vadaine Oliver up front.
Oliver’s persistence won Mansfield a fifth minute corner, which was cleared by Tanner.
However, it was fed back down the centre by McGuire and suddenly Kee was clear. From just inside the box he flashed a powerful finish over Worner that came back off the bar and then sent a follow-up header over.
Fuller robbed Clements in the box as he tried to burst clear after a one-two with Lambe as Mansfield showed good early determination.
McGuire and Reeves clashed in the middle of the park to earn a ticking off from the referee.
Both sides were getting the ball forward early in a blood and thunder first 15 minutes.
Oliver’s nod-down from a Beevers cross found Kee, who almost put Oliver in, but an offside flag was already up as Worner dived at his feet.
A deflected Moore shot from 25 yards earned the visitors their first corner and first real menace of the night on 20 minutes.
The flag kick picked out Winfield, who rose to power a higher towards the top corner that Pidgeley had to tip away for a second corner.
Soon after Smith tried his luck from outside the box, Pidgeley gathering low at the post, though it looked like it may have gone wide anyway.
At the other end Elder’s left wing cross was just too high for Oliver to head on target.
Akinfenwa was too high with a dipping half-volley on the turn from 35 yards, though showed great confidence in going for it.
Then Clements was well over for the Stags from 30 yards as we reached the 28th minute.
As the ball came in from the right, Akinfewa then turned smartly in the box with two defenders behind him to force Pidgley into a low save.
The Dons were shooting on sight and Reeves was next to chance his arm, too high from 25 yards.
The visitors found themselves down to 10 men as Kennedy limped off. But Brown’s cross was too high and Francombe was able to come on to replace Kennedy.
Oliver laid a far post Elder cross back to Kee at the end of a decent string of passes started by Lambe tenaciously winning back the ball after giving it away. But Clements’ finish hit a defender and the shout for handball carried little weight.
Elder gave the ball away down the left and Rigg hurried in a low effort from 25 yards that was always going wide.
Brown won Mansfield two corner in as many minutes.
The Dons got forward and Akinfenwa nodded a left wing cross back into the danger area from the right, but the ball rolled harmlessly to Pidgeley.
A minute from the break a goalbound Oliver snapshot in the box clipped the head of Winfield en route and the Dons survived, the half ending 0-0.
Mansfield had a let-off on 49 minutes as Wimbledon found themselves with two players over on the left as Tanner fed the ball into the box only for Reeves to poke a tame finish at Pidgeley from 12 yards.
On 53 minutes Tanner turned well from outside the box, left two players in his wake and flashed a shot wide.
But Stags made the big breakthrough on 56 minutes after Oshilaja had fouled Kee on the right.
Clements’ free kick was only cleared as far as the edge of the box where Beevers ran in to smash a low shot goalwards, the ball taking a deflection as it sped into the net.
Soon after Oliver was too high with a looping effort while Rigg was crowded out at the other end as he tried to burst clear in the box.
A good run down the left by Elder saw him whip in a devilish cross that almost reached Oliver at the far post as the Stags continued to enjoy a good spell of pressure.
Rigg blazed over from a good position on 67 minutes but again an offside flag was up anyway.
A minute later, with Azeez on for Rigg, a precision pass by Clements invited a shot from Oliver which wasn’t far wide.
But on 69 minutes the visitors were gifted a way back into the game.
Tafazolli clearly and needlessly moved his arm towards the ball in the box and nudged it and the referee, well positioned, pointed straight to the spot.
Sub Francomb dispatched a confident penalty past Pidgeley and all that hard work had been undone in an instant.
Azeez threatened at the far post as Stags looked for an offside flag and Pidgeley was forced to save with his legs – another let-off.
With the visitors suddenly growing in stature, Stags made three substitutions in as many minutes, Monakana, Rhead and Bingham replacing Brown, Oliver and Kee.
Lambe forced a good tip-away save from Worner on 81 minutes, Rhead hooking wide at full stretch soon after.
Azeez again stormed through past Riley on 82 minutes with no offside flag and flashed a finish wide when he should have finished the game.
But Stags snatched it with three minutes to go after a superb burst down the left by Elder.
His low cross wasn’t the best but the visitors failed to clear it and Bingham was quicker than Winfield in drilling home a low finish from 12 yards.
Monakana had a couple of late chances before we had to ensure five added minutes before the joyous relief and release of the final whistle.
STAGS: Pidgeley; Beevers, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder; Brown (Monakana 74), McGuire, Clements, Lambe; Oliver (Rhead 75), Kee (Bingham 76). Subs not used: Studer, Sutton, Ravenhill, Heslop.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Worner, Fuller, Smith, Moore, Akinfenwa, Rigg (Azeez 67), Kennedy (Francombe 32), Reeeves, Tanner (Potter 74), Winfield, Oshilaja. Subs not used: McDonnell, Phillips, Fitzpatrick, Gallagher.
REFEREE: Scott Duncan of Northumberland.
ATTENDANCE: 2,151 (145 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamie McGuire.