Report: Colchester 2-0 Stags
Clinical Colchester United netted two first half goals to claim maximum points in a game where Stags were unable to find the net despite creating a hatful of chances.
In nine first-half minutes, Colchester winger Brennan Dickenson scored the first and set up the other as the U's converted two of only three real opportunities in front of goal.
In stark contrast, Stags carved out numerous openings but couldn’t find the net.
Mansfield enjoyed overwhelming possession, particularly in the second half as the home side had to resort to counter-attacking football.
The hosts had to withstand wave after wave of attacks but clung onto the win with a combination of poor Stags' shooting and dogged defensive blocks.
Scott Shearer, the Stags' goalkeeper, was relatively unemployed in the second period as Stags dominated the half but couldn't make it count.
The men from north Nottinghamshire made a solitary change from Saturday’s line-up, with winger Ashley Hemmings replacing CJ Hamilton to make his first league start of the calendar year.
Inside the third minute, Colchester centre-half Matt Briggs inadvertently cleared into his own side-netting after Mal Benning’s teasing left-sided cross, but the Stags’ first corner of the night came to nothing.
A minute later, Mansfield were caught off guard when attacking midfielder Sammie Szmidics struck wide from 12 yards, when he should have hit the target.
At the other end, Alex MacDonald pulled the trigger from 25 yards and after it was blocked, fellow midfielder Joel Byrom rifled a 30-yard attempt over the bar.
Stags had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock moments later, on 14 minutes.
After a promising attack, Hayden White did well inside the box to pick out Green, but Mansfield’s leading marksman turned to fire over the bar from six yards.
Four minutes later, Collins and MacDonald linked up well on the right to force Stags’ second corner, but Byrom’s flag-kick was headed clear.
It was Colchester, however, who gained the upper hand on 20 minutes.
Brennan Dickenson latched on to a neat midfield pass from Sean Murray and after getting the better of White, the left-winger surged into the box to direct a low shot against the inside of the post and into the net.
Stags tried to find a way back four minutes later through an Alex MacDonald free kick from near the right touchline.
Floated towards a towering Krystian Pearce inside the area, the centre-half knocked it down into the path of Rhys Bennett, but his shot was blocked by George Ekobi who turned it behind for a corner.
Ashley Hemmings then teed-up Byrom from the left side, but his 22-yard effort flew off target.
Within the blink of an eye, Colchester doubled their lead in the 29th minute.
Dickenson was the architect on the left-flank, seeking out Szmodics, who turned well from 12 yards to plant it beyond a helpless Scott Shearer.
Stags had to block a Szmodics strike inside their own box after a bursting run into the area with two minutes of normal time remaining.
In the final minute, Whiteman’s throughball almost picked out Green outside the box, but Sam Walker, the Colchester goalkeeper, got there first to hack clear.
Stags made a double change at the break in a bid to alter their fortunes as CJ Hamilton and Danny Rose replaced Lee Collins and Ashley Hemmings.
The change meant that Steve Evans’ men shaped up in a 4-4-2 fashion for the start of the second half.
Three minutes after the restart, Benning broke forward to receive a return pass off Matt Green on the edge of the box but dragged his eventual shot off target.
Another glaring chance went begging for Mansfield, this time on 49 minutes.
White’s right-flank cross was knocked down by a rising Danny Rose and Green had all the time in the world, only to shoot beyond the far post from eight yards.
Whiteman then delivered from the same side, but Colchester met it first inside the goal area to put it behind for a corner.
Stags’ pressure intensified yet they were unable to force Walker into a save on 57, when Whiteman’s 22-yard hit sailed past the upright following a Colchester clearance from a Joel Byrom set-play.
Alex MacDonald’s free-kick caused all sorts of problems in the 63rd minute.
Drifted into the pack, Colchester were unable to clear and somehow goalkeeper Walker denied short-range attempts from both Rhys Bennett and Matt Green.
It was MacDonald’s last moment in action as he was replaced by Shaq Coulthirst a minute after.
Colchester were penned in their own half, but in a rare attack on 69, Sean Murray’s drive could only find the side netting.
On 71, Whitemen struck into a crowded box from the right side of the area as Stags’ pressure continued following good work from Coulthirst.
White then darted to the goal-line six minutes later, but his cross was met by the hands of Walker on the edge of his six yard box.
Stags fought to the death to get on the scoresheet, but it was to be in vein.
In the 89th minute, Green supplied a low pass from the goal-line to Benning, and true to the tale of the game, Colchester blocked both his shot and that of Coulthirst, who followed-up.
And in in the final seconds of five added-on minutes, Coulthirst connected with a Byrom free-kick, but it harmlessly bounced wide.
As the final whistle sounded, Stags exited the field following a dominant second-half display, only to head back to One Call Stadium empty handed.
COLCHESTER: Walker, James (Vincent-Young 90), Elokobi, Briggs, Wright, Lapslie, Murray, Dickenson, Porter, Szmodics (Bonne 81), Pyke (Wynter 64)
UNUSED SUBS: Barnes, Fosu, Kinsella, Edge
STAGS: Shearer, White, Pearce, Bennett, Benning, MacDonald (Coulthirst 64), Collins (Hamilton HT), Byrom, Hemmings (Rose HT), Whiteman, Green
UNUSED SUBS: Jensen, Howkins, Potter, Arquin
REFEREE: Nick Kinseley
ATTENDANCE: 2,526 (172)