Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder was a relieved man as his side scraped into the FA Cup fourth round with a stoppage-time goal to win 3-2 after a terrific tie at League Two Mansfield.
Championship side Boro were 2-0 up inside 14 minutes but Stags roared back to level after the break only for John-Joe O’Toole to put through his own goal in the fifth added minute.
“I have to give an enormous amount of credit to Mansfield Town – the manager, the players and the supporters,” said Wilder.
“It’s a difficult one for them when they go 2-0 down but their team rallied and I knew, without sounding clever, this was going to be a really difficult afternoon for us. So it proved to be.
“The result is the main thing and we’ve come through a really tough tie that epitomised what the FA Cup is all about.
“Any Championship team would have struggled today.
“We were up against a manager who has got history with cup upsets, a team on a fabulous run, a vocal home support, and a team that has nothing to lose against a team that has everything to lose.
“It was a huge test for us as a football club and we have come through it with a mix and match team.
“I think people up and down the country would have tipped this game as a potential result for Mansfield.”
Uche Ikpeazu gave Boro a fourth-minute lead with a brilliant solo effort, shrugging off two defenders before finding the top left corner from outside the box.
Debut-making Caolan Boyd-Munce turned in a low Lee Peltier cross after 14 minutes and Boro were in control.
But Stags dominated the second half and missed some good chances before Oli Hawkins headed home a Stephen Quinn cross with 67 minutes gone.
Danny Johnson had an effort ruled out for offside before Rhys Oates broke clear and rounded the keeper to level after 85 minutes.
But, at the death, O’Toole turned a low Isaiah Jones cross past his own keeper.
Stags boss Nigel Clough was disappointed to be knocked out of the FA Cup.
He said: “We should have made it through to the fourth round today.
“I was very disappointed with the first 30 minutes – I don’t think we started well and that is what cost us ultimately going 2-0 down.
“But from that point on I thought it was brilliant stuff from us.
“Middlesbrough’s quality showed in the end, especially with their first goal.
“It was a cracking cup tie for anyone watching it. But we are in here to win. We didn’t really want extra time but we’d have taken it rather than get knocked out.
“The main thing today was to have a good go at them.
“It would have been easy to crumble at 2-0 down. To make it as uncomfortable as we did for them was an accomplishment.”