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Report: Mansfield Town 0-0 Walsall

2 August 2014

Stags hold higher-division opponents in final pre-season friendly.

Mansfield Town drew 0-0 with Walsall at One Call Stadium as Paul Cox's preparations for the new season drew to a close.

In what was a quiet 90 minutes, the Stags provided a good challenge for their West Midlands counterparts and vice-versa, but neither team had the cutting-edge required to break the deadlock.

The visitors had the first opportunity of the match, as Ricoh Henry raced past Ritchie Sutton and picked out Danny Webber, but the striker's low shot on the turn wasn't enough to trouble Studer.

The lively James Baxendale failed to test the Swiss goalkeeper as well only a few moments later, when he dragged his shot well wide of goal.

The Saddlers were on top in the early stages, as Webber again found Studer in his way, before Liam Hearn stung the palms of Richard O'Donnell with a fierce left-footed drive from 20 yards.

After a frantic start that saw shots on goal from both sides, there was a lull in the middle of the first period, where neither side were able to impose themselves on the other. Keiron Morris sent a looping cross to the far post from the left hand side, but recipient Tom Bradshaw could only turn the ball into the side-netting.

Simon Heslop impressed in the Stags' midfielder. On one occasion, the centre-midfielder played a lovely through ball to Alex Fisher, but his cut-back was unsuccessful as the hosts attempted to stamp their authority on the match.

Baxendale was continuing to threaten Mansfield's back-line though, as some great footwork saw the youngster skip past a couple of challenges and try for goal, an effort that Studer parried.

Fisher curled over a 30-yard free-kick before Dean Smith applied the first subsititution with James O'Connor being replaced by Liam Kinsella at right-back for the Saddlers.

Morris came close to opening the scoring shortly befpre the break when he turned Sutton inside the area and fired at goal, but Studer was able to keep the scores level by tipping the ball over the bar.

Hearn at the other end, however, failed to get his strike on target when played through by the head of strike partner Fisher.

A relatively quiet first period came to a close with Ryan Tafazolli heading over from a corner, as the Stags held their own against their Sky Bet League One opponents.

A flurry of changes greeted the second half, with the Stags introducing Lee Beevers, Ollie Palmer and Sam Clucas in place of Liam Marsden, Liam Hearn, Chris Clements respectively.

Similarly to the first half, the second began in the same manner, with the away side dictating proceedings.

The Stags' defence denied Romaine Sawyers after some promising build up play, before Kinsella blazed over from distance.

Shortly after, another run and cross by Henry found Morris, who should have done better but wasted the opportunity inside the area.

Dean Smith's side continued to dominate, and Sawyers soon fed Webber, but his duel with Studer continued to be won by the goalkeeper.

The Stags lost Sutton to an innocuous-looking injury prior to the hour-mark and John Dempster came on in place of him.

After seemingly seeing out the spell of Walsall pressure, the hosts went close when Taylor's ball from the left found Palmer at the back-post, but the angle proved too tight.

The changes continued to come, with Dean Smith bringing on Mathieu Manset and Billy Clifford, while Jamie McGuire, Amari'i Bell and namesake Fergus entered the fray for the home team.

The changes seemed to spark some life into the Stags. Fergus Bell's ball searching for Palmer was unsuccessful, as McGuire and Murray in midfield began to take control.

Studer was called to perform again when Benning and Taylor connected on the left and found Grimes, who curled a tame effort at the Stags' keeper.

A few moments later, Manset did little better when played through by fellow sub Clifford, albeit with a tight angle to contend with.

The match petered out towards the end, with very little for the attending fans of either side to shout about.

Andy Taylor dragged a shot wide on his weaker foot after an individual run, before Fergus Bell fired well over the bar at the other end.

James Chambers headed over deep into stoppage-time as the Saddlers ended the game stronger, but neither side did enough to steal victory and Mansfield will now their attentions towards next Saturday's curtain-raiser at Northampton Town.


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