Ten-men Mansfield Town secured a valuable point at the County Ground after a valiant performance saw them draw 0-0 with Swindon Town.
Will Atkinson was dismissed with only 42 minutes on the clock after attaining two yellow cards in the first-half, as the Stags battled hard after the break to come away with well-earned point.
Danny Rose had the Stags’ best chance with a stooping header, and CJ Hamilton almost snatched it at the death, but both sides had to settle for a point apiece.
Following last Saturday’s postponed league fixture at home to Grimsby Town, David Flitcroft made two changes from the team that faced Bury for his side’s trip to face Swindon Town.
Both Atkinson and Jacob Mellis were welcomed back into the starting line-up, as the gaffer also tweaked the formation slightly in a bid to gain three points.
The Stags suffered an early scare at the County Ground when Matty Taylor’s whipped delivery from the touchline was almost met by Elijah Adebayo inside the area. Luckily, though, the Swindon midfielder was unable to get a clean connection on the ball.
Otis Khan then collected possession in the middle of the park. Driving forward, he found Timi Elsnik who was unable to pick out a teammate with his subsequent pass.
Then it was Hamilton who next took the opportunity to break forward with his blistering pace. He earned his side a corner, after his cutback was put behind, and Matt Preston’s effort from the set piece was well saved by Swindon ‘keeper, Lawrence Vigouroux.
In the 14th minute, the visitors had a superb chance to take the lead. Elsnik found Rose, who in turn nodded the ball down to Hamilton but the winger struck his effort over the bar from 10 yards.
Marc Richards was the first player to find themselves in the referee’s notebook after a high challenge on Atkinson on 18 minutes.
Rose then used his trickery to beat his man and fired the ball over to Mellis who rifled it first-time towards goal; however, it never troubled the hosts as it travelled out for a goal kick.
The Stags' striker was involved moments later as he met Khan’s delivery with a stooping header that had to be tipped over by Vigouroux. Rose did well to beat his man and could count himself unlucky that his effort hadn’t met the back of the net.
The noise levels inside the ground rose on the half-hour mark when Atkinson was late to a challenge with Taylor – to which the right wing-back received a yellow card for.
With ten minutes remaining of the first-half, Swindon were awarded a free-kick a few yards over the halfway line. Taylor floated a ball to the back post, which was met by Adebayo and forced Bobby Olejnik into a smart save down low.
The hosts came again a minute later as Olejnik this time spread his body quickly to smother an attempted cutback by Keshi Anderson. The Robins had to settle for a corner but were unable to capitalise on the opportunity.
Swindon looked to be ending the half as the better side before they gained a surprising boost when Atkinson was sent off for a second bookable offence. It seemed as though it would just be a talking-to for the Stags man, but Antony Coggins produced a red card instead.
Steven Alzate tried to make the man-advantage count as he tried his luck from six yards. A side-footed effort was placed wide of Olejnik’s goal as Mansfield breathed a sigh of relief.
Flitcroft made the decision at half-time to replace Khan with Tyler Walker after his side had been reduced to ten men.
The home side earned themselves a corner early into the second-half after a superb block by Mal Benning, but Hamilton broke from the aforementioned set piece with blistering pace. He sprinted past Taylor and after his initial effort was blocked, the rebound fell to Rose who fired over.
In the 59th minute Mellis was given free-kick duties but curled a direct effort over Vigouroux's crossbar.
Swindon then had a chance of their own a minute later through Richards – a header that was easily caught by Olejnik but wouldn’t have counted otherwise as the offside flag was raised on the near side.
The Stags came back yet again as the game opened up significantly. Rose dinked a ball across the area and was headed away bravely for another Mansfield corner.
The Robins sought to break the deadlock as substitute Jermaine McGlashan squared for Richards who angled his effort wide. However, unbeknown to the two players, Antony Coggins had already flagged for a foul further back.
Walker then had an effort deflected wide on 66 minutes but the referee deemed it only to be a goal kick; much to the frustration of the visiting players.
Adebayo almost gave his side the lead three minutes later when he met a whipped cross at the far post, but he was unable to turn it home from close range.
The game was poised on a knife edge as it entered the final ten minutes of normal time. Taylor looked to catch Olejnik out as, instead of delivering a cross, a whipped an effort towards the near post which bounced out of play off the woodwork.
Alzate then arrowed an effort that was heading towards the bottom corner, had it not been for Olejnik’s relatively routine save.
Sid Nelson had a brilliant chance to snatch a late winner for Swindon on 88 minutes when he found himself free at the back-post. The centre-half looped a header back across the face but watched it drop wide of the target.
Four minutes into added saw some late, late drama at either end. Hamilton rounded two Swindon defenders but was nicked of possession by Vigouroux, before the goalkeeper then found a teammate at the other end. Anderson struck an effort goalwards but it was well saved by Olejnik.
Flitcroft’s side are in action again on Tuesday evening when they make another away trip – this time to face Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Benning, Preston, Pearce ©, Mellis, Khan (Walker 46’), Atkinson, Sweeney, Elsnik (Butcher 79’), Hamilton, Rose.
SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Sterling-James, Law, Gibbens, Graham.
SWINDON TOWN XI: Vigouroux (GK), Knoyle, Doughty, Nelson, Lancashire ©, Richards (Woolery 64’), Anderson, Alzate, Adebayo (Iandolo 75’), Diagouraga (McGlashan 59’), Taylor.
SUBS NOT USED: McCormick (GK), Dunne, Twine, Woolfenden.
REFEREE: Antony Coggins.
ASSISTANTS: Anthony Da Costa & Steve Rushton.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Gareth Viccars.
ATTENDANCE: 6,208 (320 away).