Mansfield Town were held to a 0-0 draw against Cambridge United on a wet and windy afternoon at One Call Stadium.
Manager Adam Murray was missing the services of defender Kyle Howkins through the injury he suffered last time out against Doncaster Rovers in the first round of the Checkatrade Trophy. Deadline day loan signing Alex Iacovitti was named on the bench as one of the seven substitutes.
In a first period dominated by half-chances and a disallowed goal, both sides took time to settle on a damp Saturday afternoon, resulting in a cagey opening few exchanges.
It was Cambridge who first had a sniff on the opposition goal as forward Joe Pigott dispossessed his marker before feeding midfielder Luke Berry. The U’s captain nodded it home on four minutes, but the goal was ruled off as the ball had crossed the byline for a goal kick before Pigott’s pass.
Five minutes after, Mansfield midfielder Adam Chapman stood over a promising free-kick from 30-yards. However, his right-footed low drive bounced off the wall and Cambridge managed to clear.
The Stags had another half-chance soon, as midfielder Mitchell Rose hit a volley from outside the area, but his shot was always on the rise and it settled in the stand behind the goal.
Striker Darius Henderson looked to intensify the attacking threat, as he followed up Rose’s effort with a snapshot from the edge of the area from a lay-off by strike partner Matt Green, but he could only pull his effort wide of the far post.
United, looking for their first win of the 2016/17 season, then threaded a few passes together during a decent spell of possession, but could not conjure up enough to trouble the home side.
Winger Medy Elito tried to squeeze his way through two defenders, but his run was halted leading to a free-kick close to the left touchline. The quickly-taken set-piece was well defended by Chapman who hit the ball against Newton and out for a goal kick.
The visitors then created a a few half chances, almost breaking the deadlock. Pigott played a magnificent through ball for midfielder Conor Newton, who was heading towards goal, but a great recovery from left-back Mal Benning led to a last-ditch intervention.
For Adam Murray’s men, midfielder Mitchell Rose then found his right-footed effort well-saved by an agile Will Norris under the U’s sticks towards the end of the first half.
A few moments later, Rose had another effort with an audacious attempt as he tried to catch Norris off his line from 40 yards. However the custodian recovered in time to gather the goal-bound attempt.
The teams headed for the half-time with the scoreline reading 0-0, and little to choose between them.
The second half began with the sides having upped their ante a notch. It was not long before there was action at both ends.
On 48 minutes, Henderson pressurised Norris inside the area, and the latter was forced to hack a backpass to safety. Down the other end, Conor Newton was trying to forage something dangerously close to the Stags’ goal-mouth, but imposing defender Krystian Pearce toed the ball out for a throw.
United won successive corners around the hour mark, but failed to trouble Scott Shearer in the Stags’ goal. On 61 minutes, Berry floated one in for Newton inside the Stags' 18-yard box, but the striker pulled his shot inches wide.
The battle for midfield supremacy continued and both managers initiated a flurry of substitutions to find inspiration from somewhere.
The home side won a corner on 72 minutes after some good work by Mal Benning and his corner found the head of right-back Rhys Bennett, but he could only clear the crossbar from inside the six-yard area.
In spite of some eye-catching passing and movement from both sets of players late in the game, the score remained 0-0 at the final whistle.
Stags' XI: Shearer, Bennett, Benning, Collins (C), Pearce, Taft, Chapman, M. Rose (Hoban 80), Hurst (Hemmings 63), Henderson (Hamilton 55), Green
SUBS: Jensen, Baxendale, McGuire, Iacovitti
U's XI: Norris, Halliday, Legge, Dallison, Taylor, Dunne (Clark 82), Newton (McGurk 68), Berry, Mingoia, Pigott (Williamson 61), Elito
SUBS: Gregory, Coulson, Gosling, Ikpeazu
Attendance: 2,981 (334 away)