Report: Hartlepool 0-0 Stags
Mansfield Town earned a solid point away at Hartlepool United in a game which featured two halves of great contrast.
A somber first half produced few chances, but the second sprung into life as both teams had moments to nick the points.
The best chances fell to both club's leading men: Hartlepool's Billy Paynter and Mansfield's Matt Green, but neither were able to convert their second half chances.
In the Stags' camp, two changes were made following last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Barnet.
Midfielder Jamie McGuire made his first league start of the season, replacing the injured George Taft, while CJ Hamilton was introduced into the line up as Ashley Hemmings was moved to the subs’ bench.
Hartlepool registered the first effort on goal with 90 seconds played. Former Stags winger Nathan Thomas weaved his way to the edge of the box before shooting low, only to be denied by the left palm of Scott Shearer.
Mansfield’s first opportunity to test the home shot stopper came in the seventh minute when Jamie McGuire was brought down outside the centre- circle. But Benning’s free-kick was too deep and it went behind for a goal kick.
Stags then had to block a Lewis Alessandra shot with ten minutes gone.
After the Pools midfielder roamed into the area, he let fly as Pearce got in the way to force a corner.
Three minutes later, a good move down the Pools right, saw Mitchell Rose pick out Matt Green.
And the frontman swung the ball into the box, but CJ Hamilton was unable to effectively find a team-mate as the move broke down.
Almost mid-way through the first period, Stags wasted a free-kick, taken by Benning and had to be alert to Hartlepool who attempted to hit Mansfield on the counter punch.
Nicky Featherstone laid it across for Alessandra, who tried to seek a way through to goal before his hit was blocked strongly by Mitchell Rose inside the area.
A long ball from Scott Harrison then caused problems in the Stags penalty area. Aimed towards Billy Paynter, the Pool striker showed good strength against Pearce to hook it to Josh Laurent.
But the Pools midfielder got it horribly wrong and wildly stabbed it over the bar from seven yards.
Remarkably, a 25 minute spell then followed, in which neither goalkeeper was seriously called upon as the first half petered out.
At the break, CJ Hamilton was replaced by new addition Oscar Goburn, the 25-year-old midfielder, whose signing was announced 90 minutes before kick-off.
And if the first half was a somber affair, the second period soon sparked into life, with Stags heading forward with greater gusto and energy.
But the first real opportunity of the second period was created by Pools' midfielder Laurent on 53 minutes. Jinxing his way towards goal, the midfielder unleashed a shot which flew behind for a goal kick.
Hartlepool had a goal disallowed on 55 minutes. Alessandra’s corner was met by a bullet header from Billy Paynter which Shearer did well to deny. From the follow up, Thomas prodded it into the net but the assistant referee, well positioned, had already raised his flag.
Then at the other end, a left-wing cross into the Pools box drew out of the goalkeeper. Green, the recipient, attempted to poke it goalwards, before the referee adjudged a foul by the same player on Carson.
Stags pressed their foot down on the pedal and Benning caught the eye when he cut in from the right only to curl a low right-footed drive the wrong side of the post.
Goburn then struck a speculative long range effort, which was deflected, allowing Carson to gather.
On 70 minutes, Ashley Hemmings took the place of forward Danny Rose as Adam Murray made his second change.
Hartlepool then squandered their best chance two minutes later.
Cutting through the middle, Thomas released Paynter, who somehow failed to hit the target from the left side of the area by scooping it over, with Shearer doing well to narrow the angle.
Then came Stags’ finest opportunity to find the net on 75.
Mitchell Rose sent a defence-splitting pass for Green to latch onto, but the Stags’ marksman, one-on-one with Carson, poked it at the keeper’s legs and the chance went begging,
On 84, a dangerous right-flank free-kick by Nathan Thomas whizzed across the Stags goal area before going behind.
Hemmings then obtained Stags a corner on 85, and from it, the same player fired wide when it fell to him 25 yards out.
A total of eight minutes was added on to the end of the 90, but neither side could find a winner.
The point means that Stags impressive away record continues as seven points have now been collected away from home, moving Stags to ninth.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce Iacovitti, Benning, M. Rose, McGuire, Collins, Hamilton (Gobern 45), D. Rose (Hemmings 70), Green
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Hoban, Baxendale, Hurst, Henderson
HARTLEPOOL: Carson, Magnay (Carroll 45+3), Nsiala, Harrison, Featherstone, Laurent, Hawkins (Deverdics 80), Alessandra, Paynter (Amond 73), Thomas
UNUSED SUBS: Bartlett, Richards, Fewster, Heardman
REFEREE; Darren Handley
ATTENDANCE: 3775 (203 Stags' fans)