Stags hold Foxes to impressive draw with Matt Green notching from the spot.
A Matt Green penalty earned Mansfield Town a deserved draw with Premier League opponents Leicester City on Saturday, with the hosts matching their top-flight visitors in every department.
The Stags kicked off proceedings shooting towards the sea of travelling Leicester fans in the North Stand, but the difference of three divisions between the two sides was far from apparent in the open exchanges.
The home side started the stronger of the two, with Matt Green a focal point of the home sides attacking displays. Showing strength and determination, Green shrugged off the advances of full-back Danny Simpson before driving his way past the former Newcastle defender. He dropped his shoulder before sending a warning shot towards Mark Schwarzer’s far post, forcing the ‘keeper in to producing the first save of the match.
Despite dominating the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Premier League sides’ quality was shown by a calm and composed strike by experienced forward David Nugent.
It seemed as though there wasn’t much on for the former Preston and England striker, but he took his time on the ball before curling a low shot through the defence and in to the smallest gap between Shearer’s outstretched hand and the corner of the net.
The visitors had the lead, and it could have been doubled shortly after if not for a superb save by Mansfield ‘keeper Shearer. A break away down the right saw Shinji Okazaki send through a perfectly weighted pass across the backline and in to the path of the unmarked Kramaric. The Croatian front man delayed his shot by trying to take the ball around the goalkeeper; only to see Shearer pull off a smart save after finally pulling the trigger.
There was no rest for the Scot from the resulting corner; firstly pushing Liam Moore’s bullet header over the cross-bar, before catching Danny Simpson’s effort from the following set-piece at the far post.
The hosts were slowly edging their way back in to the game, but just before the half-hour mark they were handed a golden opportunity to level the score.
Mitch Rose burst in to the area after some clever build-up play by the Stags, before being clattered by Foxes midfielder Dean Hammond on the edge of the six-yard box. Referee David Coote had no choice but to point to the spot as Matt Green stepped up to comfortably thump the ball past the flailing Schwarzer to send the Ian Graves stand in to raptures.
With chances coming very few and far between during the final 15 minutes of the half, both sides had different approaches to their forward movements. The Stags looked towards the flanks while the visitors attempted multiple over-the-top through balls in a bid to find a breakthrough.
With the final chance of the first-half Mansfield came within inches of taking a 2-1 lead in to the break, this time Chris Clements the unfortunate party.
A stunning effort from Clements, the no.8 opened up his body before curling the ball over the heads of the Leicester defence and the stranded Schwarzer, before watching the ball cannon off the cross-bar and back in to play.
Both teams emerged for the second period with a Danish ‘keeper between both posts, with Brian Jensen and Kasper Schmeichel coming on for their relevant sides; while Craig Westcarr was substituted on for the Stags in place of goal scorer Matt Green.
The visitors kicked off proceedings after the re-start, but it was the Stags who were on the front foot from the off. Two huge opportunities arose for Mansfield with the first coming from Kyrstian Pearce, with the centre-half directing Adam Chapman’s long throw goalwards, forcing Schmeichel to get down quickly to his right to tip round the post.
From the resulting corner, City could only half clear their lines as the ball fell to an unmarked Nathan Thomas 25-yards out from goal. The winger needed no second invitation to strike one with intent; but the goalscorer on Tuesday night couldn’t add another to his pre-season tally, hitting the frame of the goal instead as it flicked off the post and out.
The next 15 minutes was very stop-start with both teams making a multitude of changes. Adam Murray sent on Liam Marsden, Jack Thomas and a trialist in place of Nicky Hunt, Chris Clements and Reggie Lambe, while the Foxes replaced their entire outfield team with substitutes.
With very little to note as we entered the final quarter of an hour, Rose tested Schmeichel’s alertness by squeezing a shot through the opposition defence. The ball slipped through the Leicester rear-guard and in to the path of the the Danish shot-stopper, but the ‘keeper was ready and waiting; in position to clutch the ball in to his chest.
With the three minutes of time running out and no way through for either team, the referee blew time on an entertaining affair at One Call Stadium.
Mansfield Town: Shearer (Jensen, 45), Hunt (Marsden, 62), Pearce, Collins (Tafazolli, 76), Benning, Clements (J. Thomas, 66), Rose, Chapman (McGuire, 76), N.Thomas (Beardsley, 69), Lambe (Trialist, 65) M. Green (Westcarr, 45).
Substitutes not used: Shires.
Leicester City: Schwarzer (Schmeichel, 45), Simpson (Fuchs, 61), Moore (Wasilewski, 61), Chilwell (Huth, 61), De Laet (Fuchs, 61), Lawrence (Albrighton, 61), Hammond (Drinkwater, 61), Barmby (King, 61), Nugent (Schlupp, 61), Okazaki (Ulloa, 61), Kramaric (Vardy, 61).
Substitutes not used: Mahrez.
ATTENDANCE: 4,273 (1,608 visitors).