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Match report: Crewe Alexandra 2-2 Stags

5 August 2017

Mansfield Town twice came from behind to record an opening day draw against Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road this afternoon.

Second half goals from striker Danny Rose and defender David Mirfin brought the game level after Stags had twice gone behind two Chris Porter headers.

Former Colchester United frontman Porter had headed in moments before half-time, with Rose levelling ten minutes into the second period. Porter then glanced a header home once again to give Crewe the lead for a second time, before centre-half Mirfin converted midfielder Joel Byrom's curling free-kick to ensure the Stags started the season with a draw.

Boss Steve Evans started with seven of his summer signings, including defender Zander Diamond, who the boss confirmed as his skipper for the campaign.

Diamond partnered Mirfin at the back with fellow summer recruits goalkeeper Conrad Logan, defender Hayden White midfielders Will Atkinson, Jacob Mellis and Paul Anderson and striker Lee Angol in the starting eleven.

With Stags' 2017//18 season started by referee Gary Salisbury's whistle, Evans' side hit the target within 30 seconds as Angol raced through on goal but saw his effort gathered by Crewe stopper Ben Garratt.

Five minutes in and it was Anderson who was next to go close as he half volleyed over the bar after the ball had broken loose to him on the edge of the box.

Left back Mal Benning was enjoying plenty of space and was becoming a threat for the Stags down the left flank and his cross was headed narrowly over the bar by forward Danny Rose who had broken clear from his marker.

Up the other end and Crewe had their first sights on goal but Logan was on hand to comfortably save Chris Dagnall's low effort from the edge of the box.

Logan was on hand once again ten minutes later as he gathered right-back Perry Ng's shot from just inside the box after playing a neat one-two with Chris Porter,

On 25 minutes, Stags were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position after Mellis was brought down 25 yards from goal but Angol was unable to test Garratt, despite whipping his effort just wide of the upright.

Crewe went close themselves as they tested Logan when midfielder Callum Ainley was found by a neat pass from Ng and the Crewe midfielder saw his shot palmed away by the Stags' stopper for a corner.

Moments later and Mellis was the first player booked after a late challenge in the middle of the park on Tom Lowery.

As the half began to enter the final five minutes Angol had Stags' best chance of the opening 45 minutes as he was played in by midfielder Joel Byrom but the striker skewed his shot wide.

But it was the hosts who took the lead in first half stoppage time as Chris Porter leapt highest inside the Stags' six-yard box to nod in after defender Michael Raynes had headed George Cooper's corner back into the danger area.

Having gone behind so close to half-time, Stags began the second period the quicker of the sides and Angol saw his powerful right-footed shot beaten away by Garratt as the Stags looked for an equaliser.

That equaliser did come ten minutes into the half when Anderson pulled the ball back to Benning following a fantastic run down the left, and the left-back's floated cross was headed home by Rose into the bottom right corner.

Stags were good value for their equaliser and went in search of more goals from the restarts as Rose went close to giving his side the lead but his shot from the 14 yards out went wide of the target after another good pull-back by Anderson.

However against the run of play, Crewe took the lead on the hour mark. Porter scored his second of the game by producing a deft flick from Cooper's in-swinging cross.

After a scrappy first half, the game had sprung into life as Rose nearly responded for the Stags immediately as he latched onto Logan's long kick but could only direct his header straight at Garratt.

Stags didn't have to wait long to draw level, however, as Mirfin ghosted in at the back post to convert Byrom's dangerous free-kick into the roof of the net, much to the delight of the travelling fans.

On 70 minutes, Stags' gaffer Evans introduced striker Omari Sterling-James in place of Angol and the substitute was straight into the action as his run down the left culminated in the ball flying across the box and it evaded Rose, who was set for a tap in.

Stags were then inches from taking the lead as Rose's tempting cross from the right was guided towards goal by Anderson who was denied by a fantastic close range save from the legs of Garratt.

With less than ten minutes of the game left to go, skipped Diamond unleashed a 30-yard effort which whistled past the post as Garratt was left stranded.

Crewe were then excellently denied a winner as Cooper found himself with just Logan to beat but the Crewe winger was prevented by the combination of the Stags' keeper and Benning.

From the resulting clearance, substitute CJ Hamilton beat his man down the Stags' left but his effort was blocked by Raynes and deflected out for a corner.

The game had become stretched in the final moments of the game and Logan made a crucial block from Dagnall who had beaten his man before firing a left-footed shot on goal.

Crewe then had two dangerous corners in injury time as Raynes' height was proving difficult to deal with for the Stags, but the visitors cleared the ball well.

Despite dominating for large parts, Stags were denied an opening day win but parts of their performance will please the coaching staff as the club embarks on the new season.

CREWE XI: Garratt, Ng, Walker, Raynes, Porter, Dagnall, Cooper, Nolan, Ainley (Bowery 79'), Wintle, Lowery

SUBS NOT USED: Richards, Pickering, Dale, Kirk, Finney, Sass-Davies

STAGS' XI: Logan, Benning, Diamond, Mellis (Digby 76'), Angol (Sterling-James 70'), Anderson, Atkinson, White, Mirfin, Byrom, Rose (Hamilton 83')

SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Bennett, Pearce, Potter

REFEREE: Graham Salisbury

ATTENDANCE: 4,933 (1,392 Mansfield)

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