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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:15 22nd March 2014
By  Andrew Webb

Report: Stags 0-0 Spireites

Mansfield Town produced a gutsy performance as they battled hard to earn a point in a closely-fought ‘derby’ with local rivals Chesterfield at One Call Stadium.

Ollie Palmer enjoyed the Stags’ best chance in the penultimate minute of the match, when he fired wide following Sam Clucas’ brilliant knockdown from a long ball.

Nevertheless, the Spireites also had their chances and would have been 1-0 up inside three minutes, had it not been for Ryan Tafazolli’s magnificent goal-line clearance.

The Spireites got proceedings underway and looked lively from the outset, but they spurned a glorious chance to open the scoring inside the first few minutes.

Tafazolli’s sloppy backwards header was quickly latched onto by Marc Richards, who rounded an advancing Alan Marriott and had a clear sight of goal.

Nevertheless, Tafazolli atoned for his error as he sprinted back and produced a brilliant hooked clearance to clear Richards’ goal-bound attempt and keep Mansfield on level terms.

The Stags initially took some time to settle into any rhythm, but went close on the quarter-hour mark when Beevers screwed a volley narrowly over from James Jennings’ left-sided cross.

Paul Cox’s men then had a good spell of possession, during which they couldn’t create a killer final ball to piece the Spireites’ backline, as the visitors defended well.

Mansfield thought they should have been awarded a spot-kick on 21 minutes, when Jennings floated a great set-piece towards Ritchie Sutton at the back-post, who was having his shirt pulled.

The Stags’ player instantly appealed, but referee Darren Bond was unsighted and therefore waved play on.

Midfielder Jamie McGuire was the next player to try his luck for Stags, with a speculative 35-yard snap-shot, which was high, wide and didn’t trouble the visiting ‘keeper.

At the opposite end, the Spireites enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure around the half-hour mark, during which they had a few good opportunities.

Daniel Kearns won a corner after his low shot from the edge of the area caught a deflection off John Dempster, before Richards flashed a shot over from the resulting set-piece.

Dempster was the first player to be booked when he brought down Richards on the edge of the box, which left the Spireites’ with a set-piece in a very dangerous position.

Duties were left to Gary Roberts, who stood over the ball for a long while, but eventually curled a poor free-kick straight at Marriott – much to the hosts’ relief.

Stags’ skipper Adam Murray had the only other opportunity of a scrappy opening 45 minutes with a scruffy bobbling effort that was comfortably saved by Tommy Lee.

The Spireites made a key substitution ahead of the second period as on loan youngster Mason Bennett introduced in favour of winger Ollie Banks.

Bennett’s threat was immediate and within 60 seconds of the re-start, the teenager wrong-footed Dempster on the edge of the area, before screwing a shot high over the upright.

Tendayi Darikwa did likewise just a few moments later as Chesterfield began to look dangerous and use the width as a way of piercing the Stags’ rearguard.

However, Mansfield soon won their first corner and despite Jennings whipping a great ball in towards Anthony Howell, the midfielder was unable to get his header on target.

Murray was booked for a challenge on Bennett just before the hour mark, and the Stags soon made a key double substitution – seemingly aiming to nullify the threat of the Spireites’ player.

Dempster, who had been marking him, was withdrawn in favour of Lindon Meikle, whilst McGuire was replaced by Sam Clucas – a result of which also saw Paul Cox’s team change shape.

The changes almost proved to be inspired as within a few minutes, Meikle combined with Murray out on the left flank, who hit an inviting ball across the six-yard box which was just beyond Clucas’ reach.

Straight up at the other end, Mansfield were forced into some defensive action as Bennett’s low pass almost put Richards clean through, with Jennings forced to make a timely last-ditch interception.

The Stags soon had Marriott to thank for keeping the scores level, as the veteran ‘keeper showed superb agility to re-adjust his body and tip wide a deflected low drive from Bennett.

With minutes ticking away, Chesterfield made a double change in an attempt to freshen things with Armand Gnanduillet and Eoin Doyle introduced in favour of Kearns and Richards respectively.

The Stags were roared on magnificently throughout by a vocal home crowd and finished the match strongly.

Only a quarter-of-an-hour remained when Clucas latched onto a ball and burst down the left flank, before finding Palmer with a low ball, whose subsequent shot was blocked by Cooper.

The Stags’ next attack started on the right flank and this time it was Meikle who provided a delightful long right-wing cross for Clucas, but the substitute was unable to direct his header goalwards.

In between the Stags’ late dominance, Roberts could have stolen the points for the visitors when he let fly with a 25-yard shot, which Marriott did well to tip over.

Mansfield threw everything forward late on and almost got their reward with only 10 minutes left, as Tafazolli and then Clucas were denied in a frantic goalmouth scramble, following Jennings’ left-sided corner.

Gnanduillet saw a late 30-yard free-kick saved by Marriott, who also saved a scruffy attempt from Bennett, ahead of four added minutes which the Stags thoroughly dominated.

The Stags could have so easily snatched the points, but spurned a glorious chance three minutes into added time.

Murray sent a long ball into the Spireites’ area, which was headed down by Clucas towards an unmarked Palmer, who struck a left-foot shot horribly wide of the opposite post.

Ultimately, the fierce local derby ended as it began, but the Stags can take plenty of positives from their hard-earned point.