Battling Mansfield Town had to settle for a draw at One Call Stadium against Portsmouth this afternoon after Matt Green’s opener was cancelled out by a Ryan Tafazolli own goal.
Manager Adam Murray made two changes to the side which lost out to Bristol Rovers last week, with wingers Reggie Lambe and Matty Blair replaced by debutant Emmanuel Dieseruvwe and winger Sean Kavanagh.
Stags started the affair on the front foot, putting high pressure on the Pompey defence and trying to force the first opportunity.
The first shot of the match came after 11 minutes when Mitchell Rose did brilliantly to beat three Portsmouth defenders on the right-hand side before cutting into the area and thumping a shot towards goal, but visiting ‘keeper Ryan Fulton was well positioned to beat the effort away.
Rose was in action again almost immediately, but his cross into the box was unable to find a team-mate and Portsmouth worked the ball clear.
With Stags continuing to press forward, Pompey were soon to launch a counter attack and they were awarded a penalty, somewhat against the run of play.
Full-back Daniel Alfei brought down Marc McNulty when the Pompey striker attempted to take the ball past him. The striker picked himself up to take the spot kick, but the former Sheffield United man was thwarted by an excellent save from goalkeeper Scott Shearer as he dived low to his left.
The penalty save seemed to lift the home crowd as they urged their side forward.
And it wasn’t long before the Stags took the lead. New boy Emmanuel Dieseruvwe played a nice through ball to Matt Green in the box, who steadied himself before firing low and hard into the far corner, giving Fulton no chance.
With Stags on the front foot and looking to extend their lead, Adam Murray’s side were conducting themselves with an air of calmness and ruthlessness as they pressed the Pompey defence.
The home side had a chance to extend the lead in the thirty-eighth minute, but Mitch Rose’s thirty-five yard half volley went just wide of Fulton’s left-hand post.
The visitors levelled from a corner on the stroke of half time when Ben Davies’ ball deflected off defender Ryan Tafazolli in the six-yard box and into the back of the net, giving Shearer no chance.
Stags had a chance to retake the lead almost immediately, when Matt Green was fouled by Adam Webster, but Tafazolli was unable to divert his header past Fulton from Sean Kavanagh’s free-kick.
Portsmouth started the second half on top, but neither side were able to create any real chance of note, with a scuffed shot from Pompey striker Michael Smith the only real effort.
With twenty minutes remaining, Pompey had a chance to take the lead when the visitors took a quick corner, but Kyle Bennett’s 10-yard volley was blocked by Lee Collins when it looked destined for the net.
The Stags’ best chance of the half fell to Mitch Rose, who picked the ball up twenty-five yards out and unleashed another powerful effort, but Fulton managed to tip it around his left-hand post for a Town corner. Collins got on the end of Chris Clements’ delivery and Green helped it on its way to goal, but Fulton again was there to prevent Mansfield taking the lead.
Pompey then tried their own effort from long range, but Michael Doyle’s thirty-yard thunderbolt was turned behind by Shearer to give the visitors a corner, which amounted to nothing.
The hosts came close to a winner at the death, but Malvind Benning’s cross-cum-shot looped just over Fulton’s bar. Pompey then had their own chance to win it from a corner, but Shearer claimed well to deny the visitors yet again and ensure the Stags took a worthy point.
Stags’ XI: Shearer, Alfei, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning, Rose (Daniel 85), Collins ©, Clements, Kavanagh (Blair 65), Green (Thomas 83), Dieseruvwe
Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Beardsley, Baxendale
Portsmouth XI: Fulton, Davies, Stevens, Webster, Burgess, Doyle ©, McNulty (McGurk 70), Naismith (Chaplin 85), Smith, Bennett (Tollitt 67), Hollands
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Clarke, Evans
Attendance: 3,980 (1,192 away)