Report: Stags 1-1 Cheltenham Town
Two second half goals, one for each side, saw Mansfield Town and Cheltenham share the points at One Call Stadium in the second league match of 2016-17.
Mitchell Rose scored his second goal in as many games, following his strike against Blackburn in mid-week, but Cheltenham restored parity with a long-range piledriver by Daniel O'Shaughnessy.
It was rough justice on the Stags, who controlled much of the second half, underlined by Cheltenham's only attempt at Scott Shearer in the same period resulting in a goal.
Stags' boss Adam Murray made a solitary change from the Stags’ last league match at Newport a week ago.
Defender Kyle Howkins, on loan from West Brom, slotted in at centre-half whilst midfielder Adam Chapman was moved to the substitutes’ bench.
A scrappy first half produced few clear cut chances for both sides.
And after an opening seven minutes in which both sides were weighing each other up, Stags registered their first corner a minute later.
Kevan Hurst, making his home debut following his pre-season arrival from Southend, delivered and as it came back out to him, his teasing delivery found George Taft at the far post.
The defender’s header across the face of goal had to be put behind by Cheltenham’s Harry Pell.
On 19 minutes, Bennett took up a promising forward position on the flank to float it in the area, but Danny Rose’s flick towards goal flew wide.
Two minutes later, Cheltenham’s Harry Pell did well to pick out the advancing run of Billy Waters, but failed to capitalise on the opportunity to the right of the Stags’ box as Mansfield cleared through Mitchell Rose.
A quick Cheltenham free-kick caught Stags off guard midway through the first half. Billy Waters’ right-sided cross was met by the head of Pell, and the effort seemed to be goalbound, but Shearer managed to brilliantly claw it over for a corner.
Much of Stags’ good first half play came with Hurst at its hub and it was he who forced Robins’ goalkeeper Russel Griffiths into a strong punch following a deep 35 yard free-kick.
On the half-hour mark, Cheltenham tried to penetrate and a scramble inside the box ended with Amari Morgan-Smith attempting to plant it into the goal area, but Taft was there to avert the danger.
At the other end, Kevan Hurst’s neat foot skills caught the eye, and another superb assist almost picked out Matt Green at the far post, but Easah Suliman, the Cheltenham right back, got there first to turn it behind for a corner.
Green then had his opportunity to test Griffiths a minute later, when his well hit shot was tipped round the post by the visiting shot stopper.
Griffiths was to thank for saving the Robins from the subsequent Hurst corner when he managed to tip it over the bar, with Green putting him under pressure.
With two minutes remaining of the first half, former Stags’ full back James Jennings swept a ball into the Stags’ box enabling Dan Holman to strike low at Scott Shearer.
Just 90 seconds after the restart, the outstretched leg of Matt Green connected with the ball inside the Cheltenham box, after Bennett’s right-flank delivery, but the attempt trickled the wrong side of Griffiths’ left-hand post.
But his disappointed soon turned to joy when Green acted as architect for Stags’ opening goal on 49 minutes.
Hurst galloped down the left to feed Green, who did superbly to slip in between two Cheltenham players before advancing towards goal. And the frontman laid it on a plate for Mitchell Rose, squaring it to the midfielder to slot it into the net from 10 yards.
Mitchell’s namesake, Danny Rose, then knocked it for Green to fire at the visiting goalkeeper from 22 yards as Stags searched for a second goal.
Cheltenham made a double change on the hour-mark in a bid for a leveller.
Jordan Cranston replaced James Jennings and Jack Barthram was introduced at the expense of Billy Waters.
Soon after the change, Stags’ frontman Green, clearly brimming with confidence, let fly on the half-volley which deflected behind for a corner.
Holman then attempted to split the Stags’ defence in two with a forward pass, aiming for Morgan-Smith, but Shearer raced out of his box to clear before being clattered to the ground by the Robins’ forward.
With 69 minutes played and Shearer being treated by head physio Dan Kett, Stags’ attacker Danny Rose, who was shown a yellow card five minutes earlier, was substituted for Ashley Hemmings.
Griffiths had to make another stop from Green after Bennett’s throw was met with a clever turn by Mitchell Rose, who slipped it to the advancing striker. And the 29-year-old’s shot from the right-side of the visiting box had to be parried away by Griffiths.
Within the blink of an eye Bennett made a good challenge on Morgan-Smith who may have pulled the trigger but for the last-ditch intervention inside the Stags’ 18-yard-area.
Stags were still penetrating with purpose and could have tested Griffiths once more with less than 15 minutes remaining.
Hemmings spotted Benning on the overlap, who crossed it low for Green, but the ball became tangled in his feet and the striker was unable to get the shot away.
Cheltenham then levelled with a bolt from the blue in the 80th minute.
Daniel O’Shaughnessy carried it forward before his crashing 30 yard drive flew into the roof of the Stags’ net leaving Shearer with no chance
Hurst then stung the fingertips of Griffiths with a powerful drive as Mansfield looked to regain their advantage.
It was Hurst's last real mark on the match as he was replaced by new signing Darius Henderson in the 89th minute.
Both sides were given fresh hope of a winner when the referee added eight minutes of stoppage time.
Danny Wright headed off target from a right flank cross in the fourth minute of added-on time as the Robins poured forward.
George Taft flung himself into the way of a goalbound attempt by James Rowe in the dying minutes and Danny Wright's follow up trickled wide.
There were nervy moments for Mansfield near the end as Cheltenham launched their most potent assaults on the Stags goal throughout the match.
And in the final seconds, Hemmings turned outside the box to shoot over in the last effort of the contest.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Howkins, Taft, Benning, Collins, M. Rose, Clements, Hurst (Henderson 89), D. Rose (Hemmings 69), Green
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Chapman, Baxendale, Hamilton, McGuire
CHELTENHAM: Griffiths, Jennings (Cranston 61), Parslow, Pell, Waters, (Barthram 61) Wright, Morgan-Smith, Whitehead (Rowe 78), O’Shaughnessy, Suliman, Holman
UNUSED SUBS: Kitscha, Hall, Lymn
REFEREE: John Busby
ATTENDANCE: 2884 (211 away)