Mansfield Town’s incredible defence may have proved they are only human in last night’s eight-goal thriller.
But Steve Evans’ men displayed another vital quality for success last night as their tenacity and never-say-die attitude earned them an unlikely point.
It was a truly incredible, crazy night that left both sets of fans as exhausted and emotionally drained as the players leaving the pitch last night.
The match could have ended 8-8 with so many chances at both ends and will have given the crowd that turned up as many thrills as anyone could wish for on a Valentine’s Day evening!
There can be few times in the club’s history when Mansfield Town fans have given their side an ovation at the end of a home game in which they have conceded four goals.
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Click HERE to read Steve Evans’ thoughts
But that is what happened, and you couldn’t say they didn’t deserve it.
The noise was such that the hairs on the back of your neck stood up and you knew you’d just witnessed something special.
Accrington have long been Mansfield’s bogey side and it is now 12 League games since they beat them.
With Stags’ eight-game unbeaten run and three successive clean sheets (seven in the previous nine games), a glance at the League Two table before last night’s game suggested the end of Stanley’s hoodoo was imminent.
But struggling Accrington belied their place in the table with an attacking ambition and a superb right midfielder in Jordan Clark, who caused so many problems.
Once they had opened out a 2-0 lead through some uncharacteristic poor home defending, you wondered how Mansfield were going to come back.
The officials, who had a poor night, thankfully decided Rhys Bennett’s close range attempt from a corner had crossed the line to offer a lifeline.
But the Stags then saw that lifeline wrenched away from them by one of the goals of the night.
Former Mansfield loanee striker Billy Kee’s turn and dipping finish from 25 yards out on the right was genius and rightly won applause from the home fans too.
A see-saw first half ended with Hayden White making it 3-2 with his first goal for the club from a corner and we all headed to the pie stands and toilets to try to get our breath back.
The goal thrills continued as Shaq Coulthirst levelled from the spot before Kee completed his brace with a penalty two minutes later in a tit for tat.
Stags continued to press and there can’t have been many eruptions of joy at the OCS as loud as the one that greeted sub Yoann Arquin’s 90th minute 25-yard super strike that levelled matters once more.
Seven added minutes – punishment for Accrington’s tiresome time-wasting and injury-faking tactics – failed to produce a winner that would have surely seen the roof blown off the Ian Greaves Stand.
The game ended with 10 yellow cards, though amazingly 11 on 11, yet it was never a particularly dirty game.
Despite the magnificent fightback and four goals scored, few members of Steve Evans’ side will look back at the night with much fondness.
Danny Rose and Shaq Coulthirst worked hard up front and Ben Whiteman got stuck in.
But the back four and skipper Lee Collins, as defensive midfielder, had a nightmare and, seeing that happening in front of him, loanee keeper Jake Kean, also seemed to crumble and made several errors in his worst game yet.
Little came off for full debutant winger Alex MacDonald while Joel Byrom for once struggled to make things tick in central midfield and was taken off at the break for the pace injection of CJ Hamilton, who failed to make enough of an impact but did hit a post.
However, at this stage of the season, every point is vital and Stags remain in the top seven and even strengthened their position with eighth-placed Wycombe losing again.
Evans let his players know in no uncertain terms what he thought of their defending afterwards and the return from injury this week of giant centre half Kyle Howkins should help matters.
It was a heart-stopping match for both managers, but, as always, football fans would much rather see a 4-4 than a 0-0 and it will go down in history as one of the most exciting games ever seen at the stadium.