Defender Krystian Pearce netted his third goal of the season as Mansfield Town drew 1-1 with York City at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Dave Winfield gave York an early lead in the match before Pearce headed well into the corner to ensure the draw – Mansfield did all they could to win it, hitting the woodwork on two separate occasions and going forward with purpose, but it wasn’t to be.
For the final game of 2015, Adam Murray made one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Cambridge United nine days earlier, as forward Craig Westcarr came in for defender Ryan Tafazolli, who dropped to the substitutes’ bench after picking up a knock – the visitors included former Stags’ forward Vadaine Oliver in their starting line-up.
With both clubs getting a Boxing Day break due to postponements, Mansfield made an expansive start, immediately trying to get Westcarr and striker Matt Green into the encounter and using the width of wingers Matty Blair and Reggie Lambe.
But it was left-back Femi Ilesanmi who had the first half-chance of the contest for York, blasting his shot over the crossbar when the ball had fallen loose to him inside the box.
And the away side kept up the momentum brought by their win against Morecambe in their last outing, and took the lead inside the opening ten minutes. Luke Summerfield whipped a free-kick in from wide and Dave Winfield got the slightest of touches to get the ball past Brian Jensen into the corner.
The hosts looked to respond and Adam Chapman nearly netted a set-piece of his own for the second consecutive match, but his fizzing drive from distance was well handled by Scott Flinders. Flinders’ opposite number, Jensen, then made a crucial save to deny York a second.
Ilesanmi burst forward on the left side and delivered a cross for Oliver at the back post who nodded it back towards the far corner in the hope of haunting his old side, but Jensen clawed it away with one hand.
Soon after, Blair tricked his way past three challenges from the Minstermen in a central area and unleashed a piledriver, which, due to a deflection, wrong-footed the goalkeeper but flew inches over.
Mansfield found the equaliser to reward their endeavours, much to the relief of their supporters. Chapman sent in the corner for Krystian Pearce who rose highest inside the box to direct his header perfectly into the bottom corner for his third of the season to bring his league tally level with fellow centre-back Tafazolli.
And the Stags proceeded to play the rest of the first 45 minutes with more of a flow than York, who were struggling to string passes together – a mistake at the back for the visitors nearly allowed Westcarr in, but referee Darren Handley deemed the Mansfield attacker to have tackled unfairly.
Anything towards the Stags’ defence, which comprised of Pearce, Lee Collins, Mitch Rose and Blair Adams, was being handled with an impressive poise, meaning the midfield could get hold of the ball and spring forward. But opportunities were few and far between as the half-time whistle drew closer.
The Stags began the second period with purpose and Pearce flicked the ball on for Westcarr who saw his effort smartly saved. Shortly afterwards and with their tails up, Lambe thumped the ball left-footed towards goal which was gathered by Flinders.
Both sets of supporters inside One Call Stadium were creating quite an atmosphere, with York’s 635 fans admirably travelling to back their side despite the terrible floods in their city. Set-pieces were proving to be a thorn for the Minstermen to cope with throughout, and Mansfield could’ve had their second of the day through that route, but Green couldn’t connect to Adams’ in-swinging cross.
In a rare break for Jackie McNamara’s outfit, Bradley Fewster cut in from the left onto his right foot to escape Rose, but fired well over Jensen’s crossbar.
A golden opportunity fell to Mansfield who should’ve taken the lead over a quarter of an hour into the second half. Subsitute Nathan Thomas threatened on the left flank before curling a magnificent teasing cross into the path of Green, who had little time to think and his powerful effort frustratingly clipped the bar.
The former then had a try of his own in the next action, but his long-range drive evaded the woodwork by a large margin.
Murray’s side were well and truly upping the ante, and Lambe tried the spectacular but his rifled effort crashed into the bar with the Yellows smelling blood. Lambe drifting centrally was another influential factor in Stags’ urgency increasing, but another of his shots was pushed away by Flinders.
With just over ten minutes remaining and Mansfield chasing the three points, Adi Yussuf was brought on to replace Westcarr and partner Green up top.
Ploughing forward was the ambition for the hosts in the latter stages of the game, and Chapman was again involved as he whipped in a cross for Yussuf. The Tanzanian forward got in front of his marker to head well towards goal, but the ‘keeper dived to his right to deny him expertly.
Russell Penn struck one from 30 yards which went agonisingly wide as York sought a second straight win in dramatic style.
The home side continued to drive forward but struggled to thread the killer final ball through for Green and Yussuf’s instincts in the box, and the referee called time on the contest as Mansfield end the calendar year with a 1-1 draw.
Stags’ XI: Jensen, Rose, Pearce, Collins, Chapman, Clements, Green, Westcarr (Yussuf 78’), Blair (N Thomas 56’), Lambe, Adams
Subs not used: Shearer, Beardsley, Tafazolli, Yussuf, J Thomas, McGuire
York City XI: Flinders, Ilesanmi, Berrett, Nolan, Summerfield, Oliver, Penn, Winfield, Boyle, Fewster (Carson 76’), Galbraith
Subs not used: Ingham, Straker, Swan, Godfrey, McEvoy, Kitching
Attendance: 3,958 (635)