Report: Stags 0-0 Exeter
Mansfield Town collected their first point of the League Two season, following an enthralling goalless draw with Exeter City at One Call Stadium.
Calvin Andrew saw an early effort cleared off the line, whilst Sam Clucas and Jamie McGuire were both denied by Artur Krysiak.
The Grecians enjoyed several chances of their own, with duo Liam Sercombe and John O’Flyhn being their brightest players.
Manager Paul Cox made four changes to his starting xi, with both Andrew and McGuire given their competitive debuts.
Martin Riley, who replaced John McCombe at centre-back, and Ritchie Sutton were also included in the Mansfield line-up.
Despite an early morning downpour, playing conditions at One Call Stadium were glorious at kick-off, with bright sunshine greeting the two teams.
The Stags, playing their first home match in the Football League for over five years, almost took the lead after just six minutes.
Oliie Palmer wrestled his way past Jordan Moore-Taylor on the left flank, and delivered an inviting ball into the six-yard box.
Andrew was the quickest to react, but his stabbed shot goalwards was well-read by Artur Krysiak, who made a comfortable save.
Mansfield looked fluid and creative when going forward, though equally, Exeter looked dangerous as they knocked the ball around well.
David Wheeler almost advanced into a shooting position following a superb run down the left, before James Jennings blazed over at the other end.
On the quarter-hour mark, Moore-Taylor had to be replaced by Aaron Dawson, who nearly made an immediate impact with a vicious corner.
The Stags enjoyed a sustained period of pressure midway through the first period, during which they peppered Exeter’s six-yard box with several set-pieces.
Andrew connected to James Jennings’ near-post corner with a bullet header, but was denied a debut opener, due to an exceptional goal-line clearance by Craig Woodman.
The Grecians only partially cleared the danger and from the resulting corner, Jennings whipped a ball towards the back-post where Andrew headed over.
Exeter hit back through Wheeler’s powerful drive, which was well-saved by Alan Marriott, who also tipped over a stinging effort by Liam Sercombe.
Sercombe also saw a long-range shot spilled over the by-line by Marriott, before Arron Davies saw an effort blocked bravely by John Dempster.
After a scrappy period of play, The Stags came within a whisker of an opener on 40 minutes.
Dempster’s long punt down the left channel saw Krysiak unconvincingly race off his line towards the ball, but he was beaten to it by Palmer.
Palmer attempted a chipped shot over Krysiak, which seemed to stay in the air for an eternity, but agonisingly for his side, it rippled the side-netting.
Matters could have been made worse, however, as Exeter almost went ahead through a speculative long-range strike by O’Flynn.
O’Flynn’s effort posed little danger, until it caught a wild deflection off Wheeler, which wrong-footed Marriott, and landed on the roof of his net.
The Grecians also enjoyed the last chance of a topsy-turvy first period, as O’Flynn whistled a low drive through the six-yard box.
There was no end to the excitement after the half-time break, as both teams continued to create gilt-edge chances at frequent intervals.
O’Flynn hit a tame free-kick from a dangerous position, straight into the arms of the grateful Marriott, within two minutes of the re-start.
For Mansfield, Riley came close with a bullet-header from Jennings’ right-sided corner, before Palmer was denied due to some good defending by Danny Coles.
Palmer posed a constant nuisance for The Grecians, and was again at the thick of the action when The Stags let slip their best chance on the hour mark.
Sam Clucas was played into a one-on-one with Krysiak, but his attempted chip was diverted away by an advancing keeper, with the re-bound falling to Palmer.
With his back to the target, the ex-Havant & Waterlooville man spun away from his man and whistled a shot agonisingly over the woodwork.
It seemed inevitable that one team would make a breakthrough, and Exeter soon began to enjoy their best spell of pressure.
Davies fired wide on the half-volley, before The Grecians saw an appeal for a spot-kick waved away by referee Scott Matthieson.
Exeter played some fantastic one-touch football in and around the opposition area, with Sercombe being the central figure in their attacking threat.
Sercombe screwed a low through the six-yard box on 69 minutes, whilst Marriott also had to be deal with a testing left-sided corner from Davies.
Moments later, the creative Woodman almost picked out Sam Parkin with another dangerous cross towards the back-post, which Parkin somehow failed to connect to.
Mansfield then created a flurry of chances in the final quarter-of-an-hour.
McGuire was denied by a fantastic full-stretch fingertip save by Krysiak, having unleashed a stunning strike from around 25 yards.
Substitute Lee Stevenson, who had earlier replaced Palmer, also won a free-kick on the edge of the area, but Jennings was unable to find the target.
There was a profound sense of amazement around One Call Stadium upon entering three minutes of stoppage-time, that the score-line was somehow still 0-0.
And Exeter nearly snatched victory with what was the last kick of a pulsating match, as Jamie Reed hit a low free-kick that had to be well-saved by Marriott.
Attendance: 3,284 (272 away supporters).