Mansfield Town had to settle for draw after being held to a 1-1 draw with Cambridge United this afternoon.
Midfielder Adam Chapman opened his account for the season by putting the Stags ahead midway through the first-half with a 35-yard free-kick that ripped through the United wall.
Cambridge levelled before half-time through substitute Ryan Donaldson, but it could have been so much more than a point for the visitors if not for ‘keeper Sam Beasant who denied Matt Green and Krystian Pearce in the dying moments.
Stags’ boss Adam Murray made two changes to his starting XI that drew 1-1 with Leyton Orient last Saturday, with midfielder Chris Clements returning from suspension to replace Jamie McGuire. Meanwhile winger Matty Blair was also drafted into the side for just his second league start of the campaign, with Craig Westcarr the man to make way.
Straight on the attack from the outset, Mansfield created the first chance of the match after Blair delivered a threatening cross from the left for striker Green to attack, but he failed to keep his header down from ten yards.
Enjoying the majority of the play during the opening passages, Blair once again turned provider after nodding down left-back Blair Adams’ deep cross into the path of Clements, who drilled his shot through the crowd but the past the post.
The Stags had dominated the match and took the lead on the 23rd minute, with captain Chapman sensationally finding the net with a 35-yard thunderbolt. After Blair was scythed down by U’s midfielder Ryan
Ledson 15 yards into the Cambridge half, Chapman thumped a low strike through the gaggle of legs in-front of the box before proving far too powerful for goalkeeper Sam Beasant to keep out.
An unbelievable strike from the 26-year-old who netted his first goal of the season from the set-piece, with Mansfield getting exactly what they deserved after a promising first half hour.
The goal seem to shake the hosts into action who had previously been pretty dormant, but it was heart-in-mouth moment for Murray’s men when midfielder Luke Berry swept home from two-yards soon after the re-start – but fortunately the flag went up for offside.
Cambridge had responded surprisingly well to going a goal down and it was the man who conceded the foul that lead to the goal, Ledson, who tried to make amends. The Everton loanee curled one from 20-yards after finding space of the edge of the area to shoot, but Mansfield ‘keeper Brian Jensen saw it early and smartly pushed the ball safely away from goal.
After the Stags completely dominated the game in the opening stages, the Us began to grow in the game and substitute Donaldson landed the killer blow – assisted by an awfully big slice of luck. The ex-
Newcastle man darted towards goal after the ball luckily bounced his way, before his shot took a hefty deflection off of Ryan Tafazolli before wrong-footing Jensen, who had committed to his left.
Mansfield were starting to weather a real storm as forward Ben Williamson beat the offside trap before bearing down on goal from the left, but Jensen spread himself to smartly deny him. Williamson was again on his toes moments later; this time centre-half Pearce was back to prevent the striker from handing the hosts the lead with a tremendous last-ditch tackle as he was about to pull the trigger.
After the break, the game seemed to lack fluidity as the ball spent the majority of the first 15 minutes of the second-half firmly planted in the middle of the pitch.
Lambe managed to fashion a shooting opportunity from 20-yards which was blocked close to goal, while at the other end, U’s midfielder Conor Newton’s free-kick flew high and wide of the cross-bar.
With the wind playing a role in both sides’ attacking strategies, Cambridge midfielder Berry had the best chance of the second period by setting up his own acrobatic volley after collecting defender Leon Legge’s knock down – but it fizzed a good three feet over the cross-bar.
It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Mansfield registered the best chance of the half and it was one that could have grabbed all three points. Legge pelted his clearance off the back of substitute Nathan Thomas before cannoning into the path of Green, who made a march for goal, but was unable to connect properly with his shot as Beasant smothered it in the middle of his goal.
Defender Pearce then had the Stags’ final chance of the game after a corner from the left fell at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box, but after getting it out of his feet, his wicked drive goalwards was sublimely kept out by the diving goalkeeper.
With their late valiant efforts not enough to find a winner, referee Ross Joyce blew for full-time as the Stags extended their run to just one defeat in their last five with a worthy point at the Abbey Stadium.
Cambridge United: Beasant, Gayle (Donaldson, 18), Legge, Roberts ©, Taylor, Berry, Ledson, Newton, Dunk, Corr, Williamson.
Substitutes not used: Dunn, Donaldson, Slew, Kennedy, Coulson, Simpson, Hughes.
Mansfield Town: Jensen, Collins, Pearce, Tafazolli, Adams, Rose, Chapman ©, Clements, Lambe (Yussuf, 89), Blair (N. Thomas, 66), M. Green.
Substitutes not used: Shearer, McGuire, J. Thomas, Westcarr, Beardsley
ATTENDANCE: 4,589 (297 away).