Stags draw 1-1 at Scunthorpe United in second-string season-opener.Ollie Palmer’s late equaliser rescued Mansfield Town reserves a point in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.
Palmer equalised from close-range with just 12 minutes remaining, following some good link-up play involving two youth team players – Jack Koczalski and Corbin Shires.
The hosts, who lost Eddie Nolan to injury, will feel frustrated to not have taken all three points, having led for so long courtesy of New Zealand international Rory Fallen’s opener midway through the first half.
Scunthorpe missed a second-minute penalty by Jennison Myrie-Williams, whilst Billy Kee couldn’t convert two chances in quick succession with a quarter-of-an-hour left to play.
Scunthorpe came out of the traps at lightning-quick speed and squandered a golden opportunity to open the scoring inside the first few minutes when Palmer was penalised for pulling an opponent’s shirt inside the area.
Myrie-Williams – a winger with over 250 senior outings to his name – took responsibility with the subsequent spot-kick, but his poor attempt lacked accuracy and went harmlessly wide of Sascha Studer’s right-hand post.
After this early scare, Mansfield gradually began to get back into the game and had plenty of possession over the next few minutes without really causing too many problems.
Teenage centre-back Shires drew Pat Weaver into a save on 13 minutes, when he rose high to get on the end of Rob Taylor’s left-wing cross, but his header was comfortably held by the Iron ‘keeper.
In response, the Iron began to up the ante and they enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure, during which Mansfield were pressed back.
Curtis Bateson looked particularly lively and his right-wing cross on 20 minutes found Fallon, whose downwards header was gathered by Studer.
Bateson was instrumental in the next attack as he played a lovely inside pass towards Fallon, following some good work on the right channel. Fallon subsequently laid the ball off towards team-mate Kee on the edge of the area, but after turning away from John Dempster, his powerful shot was straight at Studer.
Less than 60 seconds later, however, the hosts went 1-0 up as Nolan overlapped Bateson on the right-wing, before receiving the ball from him. Nolan then played a simple pass towards Fallon, who picked his spot perfectly with a calm side-footed finish from eight yards, beyond Studer.
Nevertheless, the assist proved to be Nolan’s last contribution of the afternoon as he was soon on the end of a strong tackle by Jack Thomas, for which the Stags’ youngster was booked.
Mansfield responded well to going behind and went close to an equaliser on the half-hour mark when Palmer made space for himself with some good footwork on the edge of the area and flashed a low shot narrowly wide.
Simon Heslop was then off-target with a wayward 25-yard attempt on 34 minutes, before Palmer, who always looked a threat, rode a couple of challenges and had a shot well-saved by Weaver, just a few moments later.
Despite this spell of pressure, Scunthorpe would have felt frustrated not to double their tally before half-time as they finished the first half very strongly.
Kee always looked threatening, and the ex-Burton Albion forward let fly with an audacious 30-yard strike, which Studer did well to tip around the post on 43 minutes.
From the resulting corner, centre-back Andrew Boyce thought he had doubled the lead when he stabbed the ball home from three yards out, but his strike was correctly ruled out for offside.
After an intriguing first period, there were much fewer chances after the re-start and the match was instead punctuated by a number of substitutions.
Boyce was replaced by Jake Hood before the second half got underway, and on 54 minutes, youth teamer Koczalski came on for Dempster, who was playing his first match since returning from injury.
United had the better of the few chances that were created, but neither Bateson nor Kee could test Studer with separate shots prior to the hour mark.
After a prolonged spell with very little in the way of goalmouth action, Kee had two good chances in quick succession to put the game beyond doubt with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
On the first occasion, Kee ran at two Stags defenders to advance into the area, before pulling the trigger with a stinging right-foot shot which was parried wide by Studer.
From the subsequent corner, Myrie-Williams’ delivery was high and deep, well beyond the back post, but it still found Kee, who couldn’t get a shot on target – much to his own anger.
The misses ultimately proved costly as Mansfield instantly started to apply their best pressure of the second half, down at the other end of the pitch.
After some good work outside the hosts’ own box involving Heslop, Fisher and Palmer, the ball broke favourably for Thomas, whose powerful shot deflected off Levi Sutton and went out for a corner.
Thomas went close with another effort from the resulting corner, this time with Fallon forced to clear at the far-post, but the Iron’s resistance was about to be done.
The Stags were quickly able to recycle play and Koczalski whipped a teasing ball back into a crowded area, which was headed down by Shires and then thumped home by Palmer.
With the scores level again, Scunthorpe pressed forward in search of a late winner and asked questions of the Stags’ youthful back-line in the dying stages.
Conor Green replaced Shires, who picked up a knock to the ankle, for the last seven minutes, and he slotted into a defence which also included Jordan Hendrie, Taylor, Koczalski and Jamie McGuire.
With six minutes left, the hosts almost stole a winner when Kee hooked a teasing ball across goal towards Fallon, who did well to direct a header goalwards, but Studer tipped it onto the post.
Ultimately, Scunthorpe’s steam ran out and Mansfield did enough to seal a hard-earned point.
Team: Studer, Hendrie, Taylor, McGuire, Dempster (Koczalski), Shires (Green), Thomas (c), Heslop, Lambe, Fisher, Palmer. Unused Subs: Hampson, Fitzpatrick, Fletcher.