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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
17:00 18th October 2014

Report: Mansfield 0-0 Cambridge

Mansfield Town made it two draws from as many matches as they produced a resilient defensive display to hold in-form Cambridge United to a goalless draw at One Call Stadium.

In an entertaining contest, the U's had the more clear-cut chances and twice hit the woodwork courtesy of strikes by Tom Elliott and the lively Kwesi Appiah, who was the visitors' best player.

Liam Hughes also went close, but was denied courtesy of a splendid save by the faultless Sascha Studer.

The Stags went close on a couple of occasions through playmaker Fergus Bell, whilst youngster Rakish Bingham also looked lively.

Mansfield boss Paul Cox made one enforced change to his starting xi with Alex Fisher coming into the starting xi in place of burly forward Matt Rhead, who missed out through injury.

The Stags got proceedings underway, though in the opening 10 minutes there was very little to discuss.

With play on the field being particularly quiet, the fans in the stands were making all the noise attempting to motivate their respective sides.

The first incident of any note came on eight minutes, when Mansfield appealed for a penalty, having seen Cambridge 'keeper Chris Dunn collide with Fergus Bell. The appeals, however, were waved away, and Bell received a yellow card for simulation.

With a quarter of an hour gone, Mansfield had their first chance of the game. On loan Derby County full-back Kieron Freeman nodded the ball down to forward Alex Fisher, who immediately lashed at the ball, but his shot descended over the bar.

Moments later, controversy erupted when Jamie Sendles-White crashed into Richard Tait on the edge of the area. This provoked large protests from the visitors and in particular forward Kwesi Appiah. Both Sendles-White and Appiah were booked. However, the resulting free-kick came to nothing.

Just a couple of minutes later, Tait of the U's was then booked in bizarre fashion for coming back onto the pitch without first obtaining the referee's permission.

After 25 minutes, the Stags tested U's 'keeper. Simon Heslop opted for accuracy over power as he curled a ball around a defensive wall at a set-piece, but his shot went straight into the hands of Dunn.

As the half hour mark struck, the hosts continued to look stronger and more confident in their attacking approach. The only piece of the puzzle missing for Cox's men was the killer finish.

With under 10 minutes to go until the interval, the visitors had their first real attempt on goal. Donaldson lofted a ball into the area, only for Tom Elliott to clear the ball over the bar straight into Row Z missing the target completely.

The visitors then went closer in their next attack as Elliott rattled the post. This miss came following Bell's accidental flick on across the box, after Donaldson's teasing corner from the right.

The Stags rallied back with an attack of their own as Bingham played a great cross across the six-yard box. However, Freeman couldn't connect with the ball efficiently enough and sliced it as opposed to striking it, which allowed the visitors to clear.

Then on the stroke of half-time, Fisher recorded another half attempt only to see his strike sail high and wide of the goal.

After the re-start, Cox’s men began on the front-foot. On 50 minutes, Fisher received a ball played to him down the wing and whipped it across the face of the opposition goal. Bingham couldn't quite latch on to it at first attempt, but did so at the second attempt, smashing a shot narrowly off-target.

At the other end, Appiah managed to weave his way past a couple of Stags shirts, in order to get a shot away, however, Studer remained equal to it with a splendid save. It was by far the best chance and best save of the game up until this point.

Bell immediately returned the favour down the opposite end with a low drive from distance but Dunn comfortably collected the ball.

Home fans were then left holding their breath, as Studer seized the ball on the line from a point-blank header from Appiah, with Donaldson yet again providing another teasing set-piece delivery.

In a game of totally different halves, Rakish Bingham wasn't to be outshone by the Cambridge forward and unleashed fury upon Dunn's goal with a drive from outside of the area, but it was slightly off target – breezing beyond the post.

Appiah continued to remain a constant thorn in the side of the Stags' defence and on 58 minutes, he clattered a venomous strike off the woodwork, leaving away fans with their heads in their hands as he was so close to making a breakthrough.

Then in repeat fashion of the opening few minutes, the game entered another quiet stage with Appiah and Bingham both remaining potent.

It wasn't until the 81st minute until the game saw its next opportunity as the ball fell to Cambridge's Liam Hughes, who hit a low curling drive. However, Studer was once again Mansfield's knight in shining armour, as he tipped the ball away ensuring the scores remained goalless.

With a little over five minutes to go, Bingham decided to take the game into his own hands. He fought off full-back Tait and wriggled past further sky blue shirts and unleashed a strike fuelled with venom towards goal, but it flew over the bar.

Ultimately, both teams had to settle for a point apiece.

Attendance: 2,925 (410 away supporters).