VIDEO: Plymouth Argyle 1 Mansfield Town 1: Match report
LEWIS ALESSANDRA came to the rescue of Plymouth Argyle with a last-gasp equaliser against Mansfield at Home Park on Saturday.
Alessandra struck in the sixth minute of stoppage time with a low shot after excellent approach play from substitute Nathan Thomas.
His eighth goal of the season saved Argyle from defeat against 19th-placed Mansfield .
However, his dramatic late intervention could not gloss over an error-strewn performance from the Pilgrims.
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Argyle lacked attacking inspiration for most of the match and when they did create chances they were simply not clinical enough.
Mansfield were not much better than them, but took the lead in the 74th minute with a close range finish from striker Matt Rhead.
That seemed set to earn the Stags maximum points from their trip to Plymouth, until Alessandra popped up in the closing seconds.
The Pilgrims have now gone four League Two games without a win and their hopes of a play-off challenge are starting to fade.
There was a recall to Argyle's starting line-up for midfielder Luke Young at the expense of Rommy Boco.
That was the only change to the team from the 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town at Home Park last Saturday.
Young came on as a second half substitute in that game and scored a late equaliser with a superb free-kick.
Only seven of his previous 20 appearances in League Two this season had been in the starting line-up.
Mansfield were boosted by the return to fitness of 11-goal top scorer Sam Clucas from an ankle injury.
Argyle played a 4-3-3 formation, with Young, Dominic Blizzard and Conor Hourihane the midfield trio.
Reuben Reid led the attack for the Pilgrims, with Alessandra and Jason Banton in support.
Alessandra had an early chance when he cut inside Darryl Westlake but his low shot was easily saved by Alan Marriott.
Young shot narrowly wide from a 30-yard free-kick in the 13th minute.
The chance came after Reid was body-checked by Mansfield captain John Dempster, who was booked as a result.
Argyle had another opportunity from a free-kick soon afterwards, this time for a foul by Ryan Tafazolli on Blizzard.
It was 25 yards out and Young got plenty of power on his shot but it was straight at Marriott and he safely held onto the ball.
Argyle 'keeper Luke McCormick uncharacteristically dropped a free-kick which was hit into the penalty area but Mansfield could not profit from it.
Clucas then headed into the side netting from a tight angle after a deep corner was nodded back to him.
After a promising start to the game, Argyle had lost their attacking impetus.
Their next chance did not come until the 34th minute when Reid sent a shot high over the bar after a pass inside to him from Young.
Argyle centre-back Neal Trotman headed too high from a Hourihane free-kick into the box.
There was one more opportunity for the Pilgrims before the break but Banton crashed the ball over the bar from 20 yards.
Mansfield had the benefit of a strong wind behind them in the second half.
They squandered a great chance to take the lead soon after the restart when Rhead flicked on a long clearance from Marriott.
Clucas was clean through and lobbed the ball over McCormick - and failed to hit the target.
Argyle could also have opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when Hourihane picked out Alessandra with a free-kick into the Mansfield box.
However, Alessandra could not get a proper connection on his header with the goal at his mercy.
It was not going Argyle's way, and Trotman and McCormick were both booked in the 62nd minute after some pushing and shoving between the pair of them.
That came after they collided as a cross was played into the box.
McCormick could not hold onto the ball but grabbed it at the second attempt, and had his left hand kicked by Clucas.
That led to the pushing and shoving, for which the Argyle team-mates were both cautioned.
McCormick could not continue because of an injury to his hand so Jake Cole was sent on as a 64th minute substitute for him.
At the same time, Blizzard was replaced in midfield by 18-year-old Tyler Harvey.
Argyle continued to struggle and Mansfield broke the deadlock in the 74th minute with a goal from Rhead.
The Pilgrims could not deal with a left-wing cross into their penalty area and Rhead scored with a close range shot, angled into the opposite corner of the net.
Thomas was an 81st minute substitute for left-back Ben Purrington as Argyle tried to come up with an equaliser.
Reid had one shot saved, and slashed another wide of the target, while Young's 25-yard free-kick went harmlessly wide.
Argyle seemed destined for defeat until in the sixth minute of stoppage time Alessandra grabbed a dramatic Equaliser.
Alessandra was set up after some clever wing play from Thomas and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner of the net.
ARGYLE: Luke McCormick (Jake Cole 64 mins); Maxime Blanchard, Neal Trotman, Curtis Nelson, Ben Purrington (Nathan Thomas 81 mins); Luke Young, Dominic Blizzard (Tyler Harvey 64 mins), Conor Hourihane; Jason Banton, Reuben Reid, Lewis Alessandra.
Substitutes (not used): Rommy Boco, Paul Wotton, Jamie Richards, Isaac Vassell.
MANSFIELD: Alan Marriott; Darryl Westlake, Martin Riley, John Dempster, Ryan Tafazolli, James Jennings (Lee Beevers 86 mins, Colin Daniel 90 +8 mins); Chris Clements, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell; Sam Clucas, Matt Rhead (Ross Dyer 88 mins).
Substitutes (not used): Ritchie Sutton, Lindon Meikle, Jamie McGuire, Ollie Palmer.
REFEREE: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)
ATTENDANCE: 6,248 (211 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Alessandra 90 +6 mins; Mansfield: Rhead 74 mins