Geohaghon earns Stags a point
Exodus Geohaghon’s headed goal on the stroke of half-time earned Mansfield Town a point from their home Blue Square Bet Premier clash with Hereford United.
Marlon Jackson fired the visitors into a one-goal lead midway through the first period when he slipped a close-range shot under the body of Stags goalkeeper Shane Redmond.
But on a bitterly cold afternoon at One Call Stadium, Geohaghon claimed his first goal of the new season after guiding home a Nick Wright cross only a minute before the interval.
Hereford were forced to soak up plenty of early pressure as Mansfield made their intentions clear from the start.
Geohaghon delivered a number of his torpedo-like long throws into the heart of the six-yard box to which the visitors held firm, before skipper Adam Murray fired over with a speculative 30-yard attempt after the ball broke to him following a Stags corner.
Nevertheless, Mansfield struggled in their quest to create any clear-cut chances and Hereford shot-stopper James Bittner was rarely troubled inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
Murray received a caution midway through the first period after an innocuous foul on Sam Clucas and from the resulting free-kick Marley Watkins warmed Redmond’s gloves with a powerful drive from the edge of the box.
However, less than 60 seconds later, Hereford opened the scoring.
Clucas broke dangerously through the middle after intercepting a loose pass from Ritchie Sutton and squared a beautiful through ball into the path of an advancing Jackson, who took a touch before unleashing a shot that crept under the body of Redmond and trickled over the line.
Despite the early blow, Mansfield hit back with a series of quick chances and had their opponents penned back for a number of minutes.
Bittner had to scurry across his line in order to claim a dangerous high ball from the head of Sutton in one attack, whilst Junior Daniel also drilled two efforts narrowly wide of goal in the space of as many minutes.
Under the cosh from Paul Cox’s side, the Bulls seemed intent on doing as much as they possibly could in order to slow down the pace of the game and thus break-up any momentum that Mansfield tried to generate.
Hereford’s game plan appeared to be working, but on the cusp of half-time Geohaghon headed home an equaliser.
Wright floated a high ball into the six-yard box after he reached an over-hit corner from Murray, and with the Hereford defence advancing in an attempt to catch an opponent offside, Geohaghon rose highest and cushioned his free header beyond a beleaguered Bittner.
Clear-cut opportunities remained at a premium after the re-start, as the game developed into a bruising midfield tussle between two teams who appeared close-knit and compact in their approach play.
Bittner saved well from Wright on two separate occasions, and at the other end Bulls playmaker Clucas tested the nerve of the Stags defence with an inquisitive free-kick that eluded everyone inside a crowded six-yard box, before it fell only inches wide of Redmond’s right-hand post.
Matt Rhead replaced Wright with 20 minutes remaining and within moments of his introduction to the action, the bustling striker came close to diverting Geohaghon’s long-throw beyond Bittner.
Daniel came only marginally closer to finding a winner a few moments later, when his deflected 20-yard drive was saved by Bittner at his near post, moments before the Hereford shot-stopper captured a dangerous loose ball inside his area after Geohaghon had delivered another of his trademark throws.
Sutton and Daniel both lashed efforts high over the woodwork in the closing stages, whilst Watkins carried the ball over half the length of the pitch in the last minute of normal time, but lacked any kind of end product with his final shot.
Neither side came close to finding a winner during four minutes of additional time, as both teams were ultimately left to reflect on what was a frustrating afternoon of football.
Attendance: 2,248 (137 away supporters).