Report: Stags 0-0 Brewers
Mansfield Town collected a hard-earned point following a goalless draw with Burton Albion at One Call Stadium.
The Brewers, who consolidate their position in the top three, looked the more likely of the two teams to find an opener, but the Stags were resilient at the back.
On a wet, windy and miserable New Year’s afternoon in North Nottinghamshire, the One Call Stadium pitch was deemed fit for football, following two pitch inspections.
Stags’ boss Paul Cox made one change to the side that won at Cheltenham Town on Sunday, with skipper Adam Murray recalled, for his 499th career appearance.
Midfielder Jamie McGuire was the player to miss out, having been unable to overcome a groin injury sustained in the match at Whaddon Road.
The visitors created the first opening after just three minutes, when Alan Marriott had to palm away an angled effort by Brewers’ talisman Billy Kee.
Burton, buoyed by their lofty league position, looked sharp and lively, and Adam McGurk was the next player to go close – firing over from the edge of the area.
Alex MacDonald’s looping long throw somehow evaded everyone inside a packed Stags’ area, as Gary Rowett’s team continued to dictate the early exchanges.
Nevertheless, it was the hosts who enjoyed the first corner, but Chris Clements’ floated ball was easily claimed by visiting shot-stopper, Dean Lyness.
Torrential rain and swirling winds led to the pitch becoming heavier as the first half wore on, and, unsurprisingly, there were lengthy scrappy periods of play.
Brewers’ full-back Phil Edwards hit a couple of teasing crosses into the Stags’ area, but each time they were dealt with by the defence.
Burton created their best chance on the half-hour mark when Edwards latched onto a long-throw by MacDonald, but had his low drive deflected wide by Ryan Tafazolli.
The Stags were forced to defend well from the subsequent corner as MacDonald struck a low 20-yard drive wide, via a deflection by Martin Riley.
Matt Palmer’s resulting flag-kick ultimately came to nothing and it wasn’t long until proceedings became largely scrappy once again.
Burton’s next opportunity fell to MacDonald, who ran at a back-peddling James Jennings, but hit a scruffy effort well wide of the target.
Kee also had a stinging shot blocked by Sutton prior to the interval, as the match remained goalless.
Burton continued to look the more dangerous team after the re-start and within seconds of the re-start, McGurk hit a speculative volley harmlessly wide.
At the opposite end, Matt Rhead screwed a tame attempt wide of Lyness’ right-hand post, under pressure from the towering Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.
The Stags were soon forced into their first substitution as Riley, already sporting a head bandage, went to ground clutching his knee, and was replaced by John Dempster.
The match desperately needed an opening goal, but when Damien McCrory saw a 25-yard strike deflected wide by Murray, no danger was posed by Palmer’s follow-up corner.
Nevertheless, the visitors continued to throw men forward and by the hour mark, they were peppering the Stags’ goal with relentless pressure.
Having survived a goalmouth scramble just a few moments earlier, Marriott produced a full-stretch fingertip save to keep out a header from Kee.
The Brewers then made a bold double substitution to bolster their attacking prowess, with Rene Howe and Chris Hussey replacing McGurk and MacDonald.
However, the hosts almost broke the deadlock when Ollie Palmer stabbed an effort fractionally wide, following a great set-piece cross by Chris Clements.
The Stags again went close through Anthony Howell on 71 minutes, whose glancing header from Murray’s pin-point back-post delivery fell just inches wide.
Burton looked equally dangerous as the match approaching its closing stages, and enjoyed a plethora of chances from which they couldn’t find the net.
Palmer had a free-kick caught in a vicious wind, which a back-peddling Marriott had to watch nervously before he eventually claimed the ball right on his goal-line.
In another attack, Hussey beat Tafazolli in order to connect with Palmer’s right-wing cross, but his bullet-header from the edge of the six-yard box ricocheted wide off the post.
Cansdell-Sherriff also enjoyed a headed opportunity, this time following a left-sided ball, but he lacked accuracy – and ultimately injured himself in the process.
The Stags’ goal threat was sparse and sporadic, but their defensive play brave and resilient and they held on to record a hard-earned point against a top three team.
Attendance: 3,266 (729 visitors).