A stubborn Concord Rangers held Mansfield Town to a 1-1 draw on a cold night at One Call Stadium
Full-back Kieron Freeman and striker Vadaine Oliver weren’t granted permission by their parent clubs to feature this evening, so Liam Marsden earned a recall on the right hand side. The suspended Jamie McGuire and the recently departed Daniel Carr were replaced in the starting line-up by Fergus Bell and Rakish Bingham.
The latter Bingham looked the most lively for Mansfield in the opening stages, twice forcing goalkeeper Josh Vickies to race off his line and clear into touch, while Concord forward Jordan Chiedozie volleyed well wide after a loose header by centre-half Luke Waterfall on his home debut for the Stags.
Rangers captain Tony Stokes let fly with a speculative effort which was comfortably saved by Studer, while his daisy-cutting cross was also of little trouble to the Swiss keeper.
However after this brief attack, Mansfield started to gain control. A long ball over the top was controlled well by Bingham, but on the turn his weak shot was simple for Vickers to hold. Shortly after a Lee Beevers cross was well controlled by Matt Rhead, but as the ball ran away from him, he could only flick the ball over the Concord bar. Another chance for the Stags came after a mazy run by Bell was followed by a low effort, but on 17 minutes the deadlock was broken.
Liam Marsden’s throw from left hand touchline was flicked on by striker Rhead, with Rangers defender Danny Glozier flicking the ball past the helpless Vickers.
The lead lasted less than 60 seconds, as the skilful forward Chiedozie let fly from 30 yards, with his thunderous effort striking the inside of Studer’s right hand post, leaving the keeper helpless to that wonderful effort.
As the game hit the halfway point of the first half, a low cross from Walker and a cheeky long range chip attempt by Chiedozie for the visitors proved the game was startling to settle down a bit, as both sides were nervous not to concede the next goal.
The final five minute of the half were however quite frantic, with first Rhead knocking the ball down after a long thump up field, with the ball pinballing around the penalty area, until Bingham managed to lay off captain Adam Murray, but he struck his effort wide.
Lee Beevers then slotted in Bell down the left finding Bingham who managed to dance his way through the Concord defence, before forcing a good save out of keeper Vickers at his near post.
There was still time for Concord’s goal scorer Chiedozie to fashion a chance that he smashed over the bar, before referee Kevin Wright blew for half time.
The second half started with a bang, with Bingham racing down the left wing, dodging a few tackles along the way, before pulling the ball back to Bell in acres of space, but he scuffed his effort high and wide.
Bell turned provider this time five minutes later on the opposite wing, as he found Bingham, who settled his feet before lashing his effort straight down the middle of the goal, again forcing Vickers in to a smart save. Bell then saw his latest effort again fly over the bar with a looping effort after a poor clearance by the Concord defence.
Just before the hour mark Paul Cox sent on Ollie Palmer for Matt Rhead, but it was the Essex club who came closest to taking the lead. Woodyard nicked the ball through to the Beach Boys main threat Chiedozie, who tried to scoop his shot over Studer, but the Stags number one produced a fantastic save to tip the effort on to the roof of the net.
The Stags started to gain the ascendency again with 20 minutes to go, and after a quick one-two between Murray and Bingham on the edge of the box, the former smashed his left-footed strike wide of Vickers right hand post.
Cox then brought on Reggie Lambe for Bell in an attempt to change up the midfield as both clubs looked for a winner.
Alex Woodyard slipped the ball through to Concord substitute Joe Gardner, whose silky stepover game him a yard of space to shoot, but Waterfall heroically threw himself in front of the shot to concede a corner.
Another chance revealed itself for the ever-present Bingham, but he again skewed his chance wide after racing in to the penalty area.
As we entered the final ten minutes of the game, end-to-end stuff as both sides turned up the pressure, with Concord committing many men forward for their attacks. Liam Marsden had his shot closed down, and Ollie Palmer couldn’t quite shake off Danny Glozier when played through on goal.
With three minutes to play, after some smart play by substitute Reggie Lambe, Bingham uses his strength well to allow Murray to strike, with his effort whistling narrowly over the bar.
Lambe again was at the centre of things, with his powerful run being ended unfairly as judged by referee Wright by Matt Fry. Clements stepped up, but his rasping effort was pushed away down low to Vickers right side.
The Stags piled the pressure on as the fourth official signalled five minutes of stoppage time, the Rangers defence stayed resolute and compact. A break-away chance for the Beach Boys saw Chiedozie’s cross expertly caught by the recently announce Man of the Match Sascha Studer.
The Stags launched one last ball forward, with Bingham forcing Concord to concede a throw, however nothing came of Marsden’s long throw, as the referee blew his full-time whistle.