Mansfield Town endured a highly frustrating night at One Call Stadium as they were held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Lincoln City.
Despite seeing far more of the ball than their opponents, Paul Cox’s side were unable to put the ball beyond the excellent Imps shot-stopper Paul Farman.
The Stags enjoyed plenty of possession in the early exchanges and created their first meaningful chance on 16 minutes when Matt Green headed wide from the edge of the six-yard box after some fantastic footwork on the right flank by midfielder Andy Todd.
Ryan Tafazolli flicked a header wide of Paul Farman’s left-hand post two minutes later as Mansfield continued to pressurise their opponents, before former Stags midfielder Adam Smith hammered a speculative free-kick over the target as the Imps enjoyed a rare chance on 20 minutes.
Matt Rhead and Mo Fofana both received cautions as the game began to evolve into a gritty and ferocious midfield battle, whilst Adam Murray, on the night of his 400th career league appearance, was lectured by referee Karl Evans following a strong tackle which involved Imps right-back Dan Gray.
Nevertheless, clear-cut chances remained at a premium and after Peter Bore’s speculative 40-yard effort landed on the roof of Liam Mitchell’s goal, Gray drilled a low shot wide as the Imps adopted the short-corner routine.
Green could only poke a tame effort straight into the arms of Farman as he stretched to reach a long ball over the top from John Dempster on 35 minutes, and when the talisman did slot the ball past the shot-stopper moments later, the premature celebrations were cut short as Green had strayed into an offside position.
Mansfield came out with the grit firmly between their teeth after the interval and within minutes of the re-start Lincoln skipper Adam Boyce produced a superb last ditch challenge on the edge of the six-yard box, which prevented Green from firing goalwards.
The Stags continued to press forward and when Murray found Rhead with an intelligent, quickly taken free-kick, the bustling striker saw his goal bound header expertly turned over the woodwork by Farman, before Tafazolli’s downward header drifted wide of the target from the resulting corner.
Murray also saw a powerful shot blocked by Smith, and the Lincoln midfielder, on his first return to One Call Stadium since he joined David Holdsworth’s Imps during the summer, woefully blazed a 30-yard effort wide of Mitchell’s goal on the hour mark.
Mitchell was finally called into action midway through the second period when he tipped Smith’s vicious right-footed drive around the post, whilst Gary Roberts drilled a low free-kick into the Imps defensive wall and Rhead’s subsequent follow-up shot was blocked by Boyce, as Mansfield attacked at the other end.
The Stags were again left frustrated when Farman kept out a bicycle-kick attempt from Green, prior to denying Rhead a goal from an intricate header, after Roberts had floated a beautiful ball into the box.
With only eight minutes remaining, Roberts let fly with a thunderous strike that flew only a few inches over the woodwork, and when the Imps had to rely on their last line of defence again in the dying minutes, Farman pulled off two fine saves as he denied Rhead and Speight in order to earn the Imps a point.
Attendance: 2,325 (334 away supporters).