Mansfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw by Barnet at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Loanee Emmanuel Dieseruvwe’s first goal for the Stags on the half-hour mark cancelled out John Akinde’s early header to ensure the hosts earned a deserved point.
Both teams had opportunities to collect the three points with midfielder Adam Chapman hitting a vicious long-range set-piece to bring a fantastic stop from Jamie Stephens in Stags’ most notable chance, but they had to settle for the point.
Boss Adam Murray made two changes to the side that brilliantly beat Exeter City in midweek with midfielder James Baxendale named in the starting line-up for the first time since early-March to replace Mitch Rose, whilst striker Emmanuel Dieseruvwe came in for winger Reggie Lambe.
There’s only been one goalless draw between the two sides in Nottinghamshire since records began, and it wouldn’t be long before the deadlock was broken in this one.
A hooked ball was played over the top for Bees' leading scorer John Akinde to run on to and the forward out-muscled defender Ryan Tafazolli to the ball and headed it past Scott Shearer as the Glaswegian stopper hesitated to come out and claim it.
Despite the early blow, Mansfield carried on undeterred as midfielder Jack Thomas swung in a whipped delivery that evaded the runs of the attackers and just went wide. However, Akinde nearly doubled his team’s advantage as he made himself some room on the edge of the box, but his effort whistled narrowly wide.
Murray’s men were probing the North London outfit’s backline to no avail as Dieseruvwe was trying to get his physicality in useful positions, while midfielder Adam Chapman was looking to pick up possession and dictate in the middle of the park.
And their patience in the offensive areas was rewarded in the 30th minute as they drew level. Left-back Mal Benning’s cross inadvertently found Baxendale in the area and his cut-back found Dieseruvwe. The man on loan from Chesterfield kept his composure and hit a powerful effort into the top corner of Jamie Stephens’ net to score his first goal on loan for the Stags.
The hosts could’ve taken the lead soon after when midfielder Matty Blair crossed towards the back post in the direction of Mansfield-born Jack Thomas who proceeded to calmly head it back across goal for Matt Green, but the striker could only head over the crossbar from close range.
Colin Daniel was again being deployed at right-back after his performance in that position in the 3-2 victory over Exeter City in Devon on Tuesday night, and the man on loan from Port Vale had Mansfield’s next effort as he cut in from the wing, but his left-footed drive went harmlessly past the post.
Crosses seemed to be a route of success for the home side and centre-back Lee Collins delivered for Chapman who was making his way back into the area, and the midfielder’s header worried Stephens, who dived at full-stretch, but it went inches wide.
Bees’ midfielder Sam Muggleton’s long throws were a frequent danger throughout the half for the visitors as they were constantly launched into box, but they weren’t creating many chances as the sides went into the break level.
And it was the home side who began the half with a spring in their step, although manager Murray opted to make an early change as defender Krystian Pearce came on to replace attacking midfielder James Baxendale.
Subsequently, Collins moved from centre-back to right-back to make way for Pearce, and Daniel took to his more familiar left-wing position to try and break down the North London outfit.
Meanwhile, Martin Allen made a couple of substitutions himself as Muggleton came off for Harry Taylor, while winger Luke Gambin replaced ex-Arsenal youngster Mark Randall.
And Gambin was immediately involved as he weaved in and out of challenges before striking low towards goal, but Shearer was smart to deny him with his legs.
At the other end, neat approach play ended with full-back Mal Benning sending in a superb teasing cross for Green who positioned himself shrewdly at the back post, but the Bath-born striker couldn’t connect properly with the ball and it skimmed off his head and wide of the post.
And the ex-Birmingham City man was involved in the next meaningful action as he latched onto Collins’ long ball, but his attempted lob fell into the side-netting, much to the frustration of the home contingent inside the ground who thought it had nestled into the net.
In the 69th minute, Murray made his second change as goalscorer Dieseruvwe was replaced by winger Reggie Lambe.
Substitute Gambin had been a lively introduction for the visitors with his positive running providing a pathway through the Stags’ defence, and his corner was the route for Barnet’s next chance, but stocky defender Bondz N’gala glanced it marginally wide of the mark.
Last weekend’s stunning second-half wonder-strike from Chapman against Notts came second in Sky Sports’ ‘Goal of the Day’ competition, and the midfielder was at it again shortly afterwards. From 20 yards out, he blasted a free-kick ferociously towards the roof of the Barnet net, but Stephens was on hand to acrobatically tip it over the bar.
With the clock ticking, Murray introduced Adi Yussuf to the fray in place of Daniel for the Tanzanian’s first appearance since March 05 at home to Yeovil Town, in an attempt to spark the frontline into getting the winner.
The fourth official, who started the game as the match referee but was forced off with an injury at half-time, indicated there would be four minutes added on at the end of the game.
With both sides ploughing forward for the winner despite tiring legs, the impressive Gambin had the final opening of the game with a stinging attempt which was pushed away by the alert Shearer, before the referee, Karl Evans, called time on proceedings.
Stags’ XI: Shearer, Daniel (Yussuf 84’), Collins ©, Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman, Blair, Thomas, Baxendale (Pearce 54’), Green, Dieseruvwe (Lambe 69’)
Subs not used: Jensen, Rose, Beardsley, McGuire
Barnet XI: Stephens, Pearson, N'Gala, Dembele, Johnson, Yiadom ©, Togwell, Randall (Taylor 59’), Muggleton (Gambin 59’), Gash, Akinde
Subs not used: Nelson, Sesay, Kyei, Fonguck, Batt
Attendance: 2,573 (139 away)