Adam Murray's Mansfield Town were held to a 0-0 draw away to Matlock Town this evening, despite dominating for most of the match.
The friendly, played at Rossington Main’s ground in Doncaster, saw Stags enjoy the lion's share of possession throughout and were only prevented of a goal by some good goalkeeping and stern defending from the home side.
Matlock began the game with two ex-Stags' players in the line-up: versatile midfielder Andy Todd, now 37, and Liam Marsden, who signed for the Derbyshire club after his release from One Call Stadium in May. Jake Green, brother of Stags’ striker Matt, was also amongst the Matlock team and looked lively in attack.
And it was Matlock, of the Northern Premier League Premier Division, who looked to carve out the early openings, chalking up two corners within the first three minutes.
But the club, nicknamed the Gladiators, were almost undone from their second flag-kick. After losing possession, winger CJ Hamilton was allowed to surge forward from the half way line, but his 25-yard drive was stopped by the ‘keeper, diving low to his left.
Then on 10 minutes, following neat midfield play, full-back Mal Benning swung in a cross from the left but it was too deep for front man Adi Yussuf to connect.
Stags began to dominate proceedings and almost made it pay on 22 minutes when midfielder Adam Chapman threaded it through to Yussuf, but his shot was wayward from 15 yards.
Four minutes later, an unnamed trialist earned Stags a free kick after he was upended on the right, 30 yards from goal. Benning then floated the ball deep into the box but defender Krystian Pearce’s header from six yards flew wide.
Stags continued to maintain their pressure but Matlock held firm in defence.
Mansfield midfielder James Baxendale was next to try his luck when he received the ball from Benning’s left-flank throw, but his half volley from outside the box was aimed straight at the ‘keeper.
Shortly before the half-time interval, right-back Rhys Bennett knocked it to Yussuf inside the area, who turned well before firing towards goal, forcing a save from ‘keeper Ryan Musslewhite.
At the break, manager Adam Murray fielded six fresh outfield faces, with goalkeeper Scott Shearer and the back four the only players to keep their places from the first half.
Matlock were pinned in their own half of the field for the first ten minutes of the second period and had to deny defender Rhys Bennett twice from corners on 52 and 53 minutes.
Both taken by midfielder Kevan Hurst, the first saw Bennett’s close range header turned over the bar and his second effort, a low shot from inside the box, had to be cleared off the Matlock goal line.
With Stags’ attacks now mounting, hitman Danny Rose powered an effort from the right side of the box at the keeper’s chest with 56 minutes on the clock.
Almost ten minutes later, Benning, 35 yards from goal, supplied the ball to Green who attempted to slip it to the advancing Rose, but the Matlock shot stopper was well positioned to intervene.
At the other end, Matlock clipped the bar after a cross from the right.
Stags’ best chance of the evening came on 79 minutes. From outside the home box, winger Ashley Hemmings laid it low into the feet of Matt Green, whose wonderful turn enabled the striker to shoot against the far post. And then as it came out to defender George Taft, he placed it over the bar.
Green was to be denied again just a few minutes later, this time by the goalkeeper, who expertly stopped the frontman’s header following a Kevan Hurst cross.
Mansfield were building momentum – but it was Musslewhite again who prevented them from registering a goal.
Chris Clements back-heeled the ball on the goal line to Danny Rose, but his shot was stopped by Musslewhite who again showed good handling.
With two minutes remaining, Ashley Hemmings smashed the ball goalwards but his shot sizzled to the wrong side of the post as the scoresheet remained untouched.
STAGS FIRST HALF: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Taft, Benning, Hamilton, Chapman, Baxendale, M. Rose, Trialist, Yussuf
STAGS SECOND HALF: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Taft, Benning, Collins, Hurst, Clements, Hemmings, D. Rose, Green