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Match Reports

Match report: Cardiff City 0-0 Stags

6 January 2018

A hard-working and never-say-die performance from Mansfield Town saw them hold Championship high-flyers Cardiff City to a 0-0 draw in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round at the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon.

The two sides will now meet again, with a replay to take place at One Call Stadium at a date and time to be confirmed.

As expected, Cardiff had the better of the openings of the first half with midfielders Callum Paterson and Rhys Healey calling Mansfield 'keeper Conrad Logan into action but the Stags were not over-awed and winger CJ Hamilton nearly put them into the lead late into the half but the former Sheffield United man headed over the bar.

The second period was just as even with Mansfield applying some strong pressure on the Cardiff goal and having the better chances. Battling midfielder Alex MacDonald curled a shot agonisingly wide from 25 yards before striker Lee Angol and winger Paul Anderson both saw efforts from close range blocked. The Bluebirds almost won it at the end, Logan producing a heroic save low to his right which meant the tie deservedly end as a draw.

Despite hinting at changes to his side, Mansfield manager Steve Evans stuck with the same starting eleven that defeated Carlisle United in the league last time out.

Prior to kick-off, there were 51 English Football League places between the two sides but the opening five minutes were very equal with Mansfield having much of the possession but not going close to threatening Brian Murphy in the Cardiff goal.

The hosts had a half-chance in the seventh minute. Physical striker Kenneth Zohore tried his luck from the right of the area but saw his effort blocked by the leg of Mansfield left-back Mal Benning.

Winger Rhys Healey sped down the left wing for Cardiff in the 10th minute but his fizzed cross was palmed well away from danger by Stags' stopper Conrad Logan.

Healey was involved again in the 14th minute as he wasted a good opportunity for the Bluebirds. He was found free in the Mansfield area by physical frontman Kenneth Zohore but he failed to compose himself and his first time, side-foot finish was cleared away.

Cardiff almost scored what would have been a controversial opener in the 17th minute as referee Lee Probert accidentally deflected a Mansfield pass into path of Lee Tomlin. The former Bristol City man was free to unleash a shot on goal but it failed to test Logan, going wide of the upright.

Mansfield's first opening arrived in the 24th minute. Creative midfielder Jacob Mellis released CJ Hamilton down the left and the flying winger managed to play a ball into the Cardiff area but it evaded everyone with several Stags' bodies waiting.

With over half hour gone, there was still nothing separating the two sides and whilst Cardiff were looking the more threatening, the Championship side had still to really test Logan in the Mansfield goal.

In the 34th minute, Mansfield were awarded a dangerous looking free-kick 30 yards from goal after striker Kane Hemmings was brought down. Midfielder Alex MacDonald floated the ball into the box but the opportunity came to nothing.

Cardiff's first proper chance came two minutes later. The ball broke to midfielder Callum Paterson on the edge of the area but Logan was equal to his effort, diving to his left to push it away.

With half-time looming, Neil Warnock's Cardiff were looking to go into the break in the lead and they had two good late chances. First Healey saw a well struck effort saved by Logan and from the following corner, Cardiff captain Sean Morrison had a tame header claimed by the former Hibernian 'keeper.

Mansfield were forced into a change just before the break with Kane Hemmings being replaced by fellow striker Jimmy Spencer, who scored a hat-trick against Guiseley in the last round.

The Stags had their first sight on goal in added time at the end of the first half. Right-back Paul Anderson delivered a brilliant ball into the area and it found Hamilton who headed over the bar.

Mansfield had 45 minutes to either cause a shock or force a replay and they got off to a strong start, winning their first corner of the game in the 47th minute. Though his initial effort came to nothing, winger Alfie Potter sent the ball back in and defender Rhys Bennett almost got up to head in at the back post, but it was flicked away from him.

Former Scotland under 21 international Alex MacDonald then showed some quick feet to charge into the area but he was dispossessed on the edge of the six yard box with the Mansfield faithful having some half-hearted appeals for a penalty.

MacDonald's influence on the game was growing and he almost scored a brilliant opener. Jinking past the Cardiff midfield, he then curled an effort inches wide of the post from 25 yards with Murphy at full stretch.

Healey had an opportunity for Cardiff at the other end but he fired over on the half volley after good work by left-back Joe Bennett.

It was a very positive start to the second half by the Stags and in the 56th minute, they put more pressure on Cardiff but Potter's cross from the left byline was eventually claimed by Murphy.

The Stags almost unlocked the Bluebirds defence in the 59th minute but Murphy was first to Spencer's cross with Anderson charging in at the back post.

A minute later and Steve Evans' side went the closest they had gone so far. Good play by Potter saw him find Spencer and the former Plymouth Argyle man teed up Angol who saw his shot from seven yards out blocked by Cardiff duo Murphy and Morrison.

With over an hour gone, the game was well and truly in the balance, but Cardiff soon had a decent opportunity to go ahead. Healey curled an effort round Logan in the 61st minute but Benning got round to clear the ball away, though the shot may have been going just wide regardless.

Benning got involved in the action at the other end a few minutes later. He used his quick feet to cut inside on his right foot but his low effort was blocked by a Cardiff body.

Mansfield brought on Omari Sterling-James in place of Lee Angol in the 76th minute with the pacey forward introduced to provide a different test to the Cardiff defence.

Sterling-James' first involvement was to play the ball to Hamilton before the winger went on a typically mazy run and fired a shot at goal which stung the palms of Murphy.

The best chance of the game fell to Mansfield in the 79th minute. MacDonald spun his man in midfield and his pin-point through ball was helped forward by Spencer and it ran kindly to Anderson who from a central position inside the area saw a shot deflected wide for a corner.

Benning was presented with an opportunity to get a shot away in the 80th minute after Mansfield were awarded a free-kick 22 yards out following a foul on Mellis. The full-back has a reputation for scoring goals but on this occasion, his strike found the Cardiff wall.

The game was now in its dying embers and Pearce almost got on the end of a MacDonald free-kick to win it for the Stags with the imperious centre half, who had been outstanding all afternoon, claiming he was held back whilst attempting to attack the ball.

A goal now would have almost certainly been the winner and Tomlin tried to win it for the Bluebirds in the 90th minute but his driven effort was parried clear by Logan.

Mansfield were attacking the end that housed their fans and with three minutes added on, they kept up their immense vocal support, doing their bit to get their team over the line.

The Stags had to survive a late bombardment by Cardiff and deep into added time, Logan pulled off a world class save to claw the ball out of the bottom corner after a long throw had been headed towards goal.

A late Cardiff winner would have robbed Mansfield of the draw they undoubtedly deserved and the two teams will now meet again at One Call Stadium for a place in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round.

STAGS' XI: Logan (GK), Bennett, Pearce ©, Benning, MacDonald, Mellis (Atkinson 90'), Angol (Sterling-James 76'), Anderson, Potter, Hamilton, Hemmings (Spencer 45')

SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik (GK), Digby, White, Butcher

CARDIFF CITY XI: Murphy (GK), Bennett, Morrison © (Damour 75'), Ecuele Manga, Richards, Tomlin, Zohore (Pilkington 80'), Halford, Paterson, Mendez-Laing, Healey (Hoilett 77')

SUBS NOT USED: Etheridge (GK), Feeney , Bogle, Harris

ATTENDANCE: 6,378 (1,064 Stags' fans)

REFEREE: Lee Probert


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