JOSH Umerah scored a dramatic late equaliser as Hartlepool United moved off the bottom of League Two with a 2-2 draw at Mansfield Town.
Keith Curle’s side looked on their way to defeat after goals by George Lapslie and Riley Harbottle in quick succession early in the second half gave the high-flying Stags a deserved 2-0 lead.
Buț Curle introduced Umerah from the bench in the 62nd minute, the sub scoring with his first touch.
And with only a minute left, he was played through and the supersub scored with a composed finish to send 302 Poolies behind the goal delirious.
The Stags played some nice football in the first half, looking to utilise both flanks, while dominating the ball for long periods.
Skipper Ollie Clarke skied an early opportunity while left wing-back Stephen McLaughlin declined a shot with the goal gaping on 20 minutes and instead tried to cross and Pools cleared.The excellent Ben Killip made the first save of night on 24 minutes, diving to his right to keep out McLaughlin’s drive.
From the resulting corner, striker Lucas Akins hammers his effort high over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Soon after, Killip made two tremendous saves in the space of a couple of seconds to thwart Akins and McLaughlin.
Pools had an escape in the 32nd minute when Stephen Quinnhad the ball in the net with a first-time finish from a McLaughlin cross but the assistant’s offside flag rescued the visitors.
Pools offered little going forward with skipper David Ferguson putting a 28-yard free-kick over the bar.
But they came agonisingly close to snatching the lead deep into first-half stoppage time when Ewan Murray let fly from 30 yards with keeper Christy Pym’s finger-tip save diverting it for a corner via the outside of his right stick.
There were two Pools changes for the second period with Reghan Tumilty and Mikael Ndjoli coming off, to be replaced by Brody Paterson and Callum Cooke.
Cooke went up top with Paterson on the left with Curle opting for a flat back four of Murray, Alex Lacey, Ronin Menayese and Ferguson.
Town took a deserved lead on 51 minutes through Lapslie.
The Stags had attacked down the flanks all night and a cross from the right was nicely tucked away by Lapslie from 10 yards.
He almost made it two, only to be denied by a breathtaking save from Killip .
But from the resulting corner it was 2-0. Pools could not clear the corner and Harbottle hammered home from close range.
Curle brought on Umerah in the 62nd minute and it proved an inspired move with the sub scoring with his first touch.
Mansfield gave the ball away in their own area, Umerah taking advantage and scorins with composure into the keeper’s bottom right corner.
That goal out of nothing completely took the wind out of the Mansfield sails and Pools always had a chance of nicking a point.
And so it proved when Umerah was played through with 60 seconds of normal time remaining and finished with aplomb from almost the same spot as his first goal.
Mansfield: Pam; Hewitt, Hawkins, Harbottle (Perch 90); Gordon (Swan 83), Clarke, Maris (Law 90), Quinn (Wallace 85), McLaughlin; Lapslie (Bowery 83), Akins. Subs (not used): Flinders, O’Toole
Goal: Lapslie 51, Harbottle 58
Booked: Maris 38, Law 90
Pools: Killip; Menayese, Lacey, Murray; Tumilty (Paterson 46), Sylla (Odour 89), Shelton (Umerah 62), Crawford, Ferguson; Ndjoli (Cooke 46), McDonald (Hamilton 75). Subs (not used): Letheren, Odour, Grey
Goals: Umerah 62, 89
Referee: Craig Hicks
Att: 6,891 (Poolies 302)