Report: Notts County 0-0 Stags
Mansfield Town extended their unbeaten run to five games after a 0-0 draw at local rivals Notts County.
Stags should have claimed maximum points, however, after striker Yoann Arquin missed an open goal six minutes into the second half.
Both teams ultimately cancelled each other out in a contest which saw goalscoring chances at a premium.
Mansfield had the better of the game and prevented their Nottingham hosts from extending goalkeeper Jake Kean, but in truth there was little separating the two on the whole.
Stags recorded their fourth consecutive clean sheet and have now gone 373 minutes without conceding a goal.
Stags’ boss Steve Evans handed a debut to new right-back Hayden White, who signed on loan from Peterborough United on Thursday afternoon. It was a solitary and enforced change following the news that centre-half Kyle Howkins will be out for two weeks with a knee injury.
Before the start of the match, a minute’s applause was held in remembrance of former England manager Graham Taylor, who died earlier this week.
Notts registered the first effort towards goal inside the fourth minute, but a weak effort by striker Jon Stead saw the ball clip the boots of team-mate Jonathan Forte to roll out for a goal kick.
A minute later, Stags’ defender Rhys Bennett leapt well inside the box, but his header sailed onto the roof of the net after connecting with Joel Byrom’s free-kick.
Then Yoann Arquin, on his return to Meadow Lane, showed good strength on the left-flank before directing a low cross too close to the near post, where home goalkeeper Adam Collin was able to claim.
On 11 minutes, midfielder Ben Whiteman cleverly knocked it beyond his man, mid-way inside his own half, before delivering an inviting ball down the right channel for striker Matt Green, but his pull-back from the goal-line was too close to Collin.
Notts then flirted with the Stags’ goal twice in a ten minute period but a combination of good defending from Bennett and poor final play ensured Jake Kean went untested.
In front of the Spion Kop on 22 minutes, Byrom delivered accurately from the game’s first corner, but Bennett’s header from ten yards flew wide.
Stags then enjoyed a spell of possession in the home half but were unable to force Collin into making a save.
But Mansfield were almost ahead on 33 minutes.
Whiteman went on a mazy run into the Notts penalty which bamboozled the County defence. After beating two players, his shot was deflected and appeared to be looping into the back of the net, but for a back-peddling Collin to palm away on the goal line.
The resulting corner saw Bennett power a bullet header off target from seven yards, again from Byrom’s kick.
Stags ended the half with the edge in a first period of few clear-cut chances.
The second half ebbed-and-flowed with a similar pattern to the first.
Five minutes after the restart, Stags were caught off guard by a short Notts County corner, their first of the match. And as it rolled outside the Stags’ area to captain Michael O’Connor, his thunderbolt effort took a much-needed deflection to spin out for a corner.
Stags missed an incredible opportunity a minute later - the best of the entire match. White got beyond Forte on the goal line to whip a brilliant ball across the face of goal, but somehow Arquin planted his shot wide with the goal gaping.
As the hour passed, Matt Green cutely held the ball up following a punt upfield, and after cutting inside to power an effort goalwards, his shot was charged down on the edge of the box.
Then from a Stags’ free-kick, just yards ahead of the huge travelling contingent from Mansfield, Byrom swung it into the box, and after it was half-cleared, CJ Hamilton sent it wide through a crowd of players.
A hopeful effort from right-back Matt Tootle arrowed into the Kop Stand on 68 minutes in a rare attack on the Stags’ goal.
Five minutes later, O’Connor blasted past the right post with a 25-yard attempt.
Boss Steve Evans injected new life into Stags’ attack by introducing Danny Rose and Pat Hoban in the 75th minute as Matt Green and Yoann Arquin both made way.
A minute later, O’Connor floated a 22-yard free-kick over the Stags wall and goal.
At the other end, Danny Rose was bundled to the floor by O'Connor after a promising run through the middle, but Byrom's subsequent free-kick was too deep for another Stags' player to connect with.
In the third Stags' change, Byrom was replaced by James Baxendale with three minutes of normal time remaining.
In a nail-biting finale, CJ Hamilton roamed into the area and forced Collin to palm away before Notts cleared to safety.
For Stags, their unbeaten run stretches to four games, while County, under new boss Kevin Nolan, have registered their first point in 11 matches.
NOTTS: Collin, Tootle, Audel, Duffy, Dickinson, Campbell (Smith 90), Thompson, O’Connor, Milsom, Forte, Stead
UNUSED SUBS: Loach, Hollis, Snijders, Hewitt, Osbourne, Aborah
STAGS: Kean, White, Pearce, Bennett, Benning, Collins, Whiteman, Byrom (Baxendale 86), Hamilton, Arquin (D. Rose 75), Green (Hoban 75)
UNUSED SUBS: Shearer, McGuire, Hemmings, Thomas
REFEREE: Darren Bond
ATTENDANCE: 11,328 (3,485 Stags’ fans)