The reigning EFL Youth Alliance champions had to settle for a draw as they began their title defence with a home match against a very well organised Oldham Athletic side.
With striker Tyler Blake, left-back Louis Danquah and forward Zayn Hakeem all moving up through the club ranks since last season, John Dempster drafted in three newcomers to the starting eleven; striker Ashanti Pryce, centre-half Aiden Walker and left-back Henri Wilder, while two other new faces, Harry Bircumshaw and Steve Johnson, were among the substitutes.
Oldham started on the front foot with Rory Middleton and Tom Hamer getting the ball forward early, but goalkeeper Sam Wilson, midfielder Cameron Healey, and defenders Kieran Harrison and Wilder dealt comfortably with the visitors’ initial threat and it was actually midfielder Cain Smith, the Stags’ captain, who had the first real goal-scoring opportunity when he clipped his shot just over the Latics’ crossbar.
Forward Nyle Blake was looking lively in attack for the home side, with both midfielder Ali Smith and right-back Teddy Bloor were providing a good supply of the ball to their forwards.
Defender Walker looked comfortable at the back and adapted to playing alongside his new team-mates right away, while two more of the new additions created an opening at the other end.
Wilder released Pryce with a measured through ball, before the ex-Birmingham City striker forced a good reflex save out of Athletic stopper Callum O'Neill, when he got down well to turn the ball away for a corner.
Brendy Glackin chipped the ball over the Stags’ defence for Ryan Leonard to run onto, but Sam Wilson, playing with renewed vigour since the summer break, raced from his line to deal with the danger.
Glackin threatened again as Ned Dry slipped the ball forward to him, but defender Morgan Ratcliffe moved quickly across into his path and forced him to rush his shot that went well wide.
Half-time: Stags 0-0 Latics
Mansfield came out of the blocks quickly from the restart and some neat footwork out on the left flank by Winter gave Healey the chance to run through on goal, but Oldham skipper Dylan King cleared the ball
away to safety.
The Stags came straight back at their resilient visitors and Ali Smith was unlucky to see his dipping shot from twenty yards drop inches over the bar.
O'Neill saved bravely at Pryce's feet and moments later had to sprint out of his area to intercept the ball a fraction before Blake reached it from Walker's clever pass forward.
The same two players almost unlocked the Latics’ defence again, but King was alert to the situation and made a last-ditch challenge.
Bloor and Blake's exchange of passes on the edge of the Oldham area gave Wilder the time to get forward on the defence's blind side, but when Bloor picked him out with a knock to the far side of the area, he couldn't quite keep his shot on target.
Goalkeeper Wilson was having a great game and he denied the threatening Glackin and Chinedu Uche as Oldham came forward, but his opposite number O'Neill did well to get down to his left and keep out Ali Smith's shot at the expense of a corner.
Striker Devante Reittie entered the fray just after the hour mark and almost made an immediate impact, but when Ali Smith turned well on the edge of the area and threaded the ball towards Reittie and Blake, Mason Fallon nicked it away at the last second.
O'Neill thwarted Wilder and from the corner he had conceded, Bloor picked out Reittie, who turned the ball just past the post.
Midfielder Surafel Behailu broke into the area through the right channel, but Oldham were back in numbers and he came up against a wall of white shirts.
Intelligent defender Ratcliffe, forward in support of the attack, knocked the ball sideways to Healey, but he shot over from ten yards.
In stoppage time, Wilson preserved a point for his side with two agile saves. Brad Kay unleashed a crashing shot from ten yards that the young Stags’ ‘keeper bravely blocked and turned away.
From Uche's resulting corner, Middleton looked odds on to score, but Wilson twisted and turned and flicked the ball over the bar to preserve the opening day point.
Full-time: Stags 0-0 Oldham Athletic
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Aiden Walker, Cain Smith (C), Morgan Ratcliffe, Kieran Harrison, Henri Wilder, Cameron Healey, Nyle Blake, Alistair Smith (Surafel Behailu 72), Ashanti Pryce (Devante Reittie 62)
Unused subs: Tom Marriott, Steve Johnson, Harry Bircumshaw
Callum O'Neill, Tom Hamer, Mason Fallon, Tommy Lent, Dylan King (C), Rory Middleton, Ryan Leonard, Chinedu Uche, Brendy Glackin, Brad Kay (Ronaldo Brown)
Unused subs: George Boyling, Brad Kay, Jay Sheridan