Report: Stags 0-0 Colchester United
Mansfield Town were held to a 0-0 draw at home to a spirited Colchester United at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
In a game in which Stags dominated for much of the 90 minutes, the deadlock couldn't be broken as Colchester put up a valiant defensive performance to nullify the threat of the Stags.
In the two sides’ first meeting since the 2004/05 season, Mansfield boss Steve Evans named an unchanged starting line-up from the victory over Carlisle United in the Checkatrade Trophy in mid-week.
The full-back duo for the home side, Lee Collins and Malvind Benning, settled into the game early on with their darting runs to aid the forwards, and in turn, restricted the U’s from posing any danger down their own flanks.
The Stags threatened first on two minutes as midfielder James Baxendale teed up Ashley Hemmings, but the attacking midfielder’s left-footed effort went just wide of the far post.
Stags' winger CJ Hamilton then released Benning with a clever backheel down the left, but the latter’s cross was deflected into the grateful gloves of Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker.
The game picked up pace, and on 12 minutes, Hemmings’ free-kick from the right found its way to striker Matt Green in the 18-yard area, who dragged a right-footed shot wide on the swivel in what proved to be the best match of the game.
The U’s first real chance arrived on 24 minutes, as a header from striker Kurtis Guthrie from Owen Garvan’s dead ball delivery found its way into Stags' custodian Scott Shearer’s palms.
The two sides engaged in a battle for midfield supremacy from then onwards, but clear-cut chances dried up with half-time getting ever closer.
On 41 minutes, Colchester midfielder Garvan found some space to exploit outside the Stags’ box but Shearer was equal to the former Crystal Palace man’s low shot.
The first-half ended with the sides having cancelled each other out, but with Evans’ men carrying the greater menace going forward.
The second-half restarted with the Stags winning a corner on 46 minutes, but midfielder Chris Clements’ delivery was seen off to safety by the Colchester defence without much trouble.
Moments later at the other end, the visitors carved an opening through frontman Denny Johnstone, who nodded in to Shearer’s hands from a left-flank cross by wing-back Ben Dickenson.
The Stags then upped the pressure, and close to the hour mark, looked to find a way past Walker in the U’s goal, as he punched clear Clements’ free-kick from the far touchline.
Striker Green was at it next for the home side on 64 minutes, as he drew a diving save from Walker with a firm 20-yard attempt driven through a sea of legs in the opposition backline.
Boisterously rallied on by the home faithful, the Mansfield players continued pour forward and two minutes after, Collins curled a pin-point cross for Green from the right, but the 29-year-old talisman’s cushioned header missed the target by a matter of inches.
The Stags continued to turn the screw with some encouraging passing, but were prevented from taking the lead by some valiant defending from the away side.
On 84 minutes, John McGreal’s Colchester conceded a free-kick out on the right, as Hemmings stepped up with a devilishly swerving delivery, leading to a flag-kick which was eventually hacked to safety.
The home side, though, had a heart-in-the-mouth moment in the dying minutes, as Colchester centre-back Tom Eastman kept alive a free-kick delivery from midfield with a looping header, which bounced off the crossbar before being cleared by the Mansfield defence.
In a final moment of drama, Stags forward Danny Rose was booked for diving on the edge of the box, with the Stags fans screaming for a decision in favour of the home side.
But moments later, referee Darren Deadman blew for full-time as Stags were forced to settle for a point at home to Colchester United.
Stags' XI: Shearer, Bennett, Benning, Collins, Pearce, Clements, Green, Baxendale (D. Rose 58’), Hamilton, Hemmings, McGuire
Subs not used: Jensen, Hurst, M. Rose, Thomas, Iacovitti, Henderson
Colchester XI: Walker, Brindley, Lapslie, Kent, Dickenson, Elokobi, Jonhstone (Szmodics 77’), Eastman, Garvan, Slater (Wright 87’), Guthrie
Subs not used: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Doyley, Fosu
Attendance: 3,398 (237 away)
Referee: Darren Deadman