Mansfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw against Cambridge United after Danny Rose’s opener was cancelled out by George Maris’ deflected effort.
In what was a fiercely contested fixture at Abbey Road, Rose gave his side the lead on 26 minutes with a classic poacher’s finish. The Stags had spurned several opportunities beforehand and were unfortunate not to see themselves three up.
But the opener triggered United’s hunger and they pressed for an equaliser that eventually arrived two minutes from time. Maris found the net with a deflected strike that ensured both sides would take just a single point.
David Flitcroft made a total of two changes following his side’s first league defeat exactly a week ago. Calum Butcher made way for Rose, whilst Hayden White was replaced with Mal Benning due to suffering a knock.
The hosts, Cambridge United, had the game’s first half-chance after being awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal. An in-swinging delivery could have caused problems had it not been for an offside flag on the far side.
In the sixth minute Mansfield began to grow into the game. A long throw was met by Ryan Sweeney and the centre-back’s flick-on just couldn’t be turned goalwards by anybody in a green jersey.
Alex MacDonald then unleashed an effort from the edge of Cambridge’s 18-yard box but saw it well blocked by the head of Greg Taylor.
Otis Khan then picked the ball up in the middle of the park and dribbled past his man. He tried to thread a ball towards Mal Benning but was unable to do so.
Bobby Olejnik was called into action on 19 minutes – a superb save low to his left denied Barry Corr with a strong wrist.
Two minutes later and the Stags almost took the lead at Abbey Road. Danny Rose met a floated cross by MacDonald at the back-post, but the angle was just too tight for the striker as he found the side netting.
Matt Preston leaped highest to win his side possession moments later, setting away Tyler Walker to fire just wide with his left foot.
And Flitcroft’s men took full advantage of their growing stature in the game with the opening goal on 26 minutes.
Jake Carroll’s attempted clearance fell only into the path of Rose who had the easiest of finishes from seven yards – slotting the ball through David Forde’s legs to net his first league goal of the season.
The opening goal somewhat spurred the home side on as they searched for an instant response. Two great pieces of defending by Krystian Pearce and Preston prevented the U’s from levelling proceedings.
Then, just past the half-hour mark, Reggie Lambe was inches away from finding the back of the net.
Mansfield fell asleep at a set piece and the winger was free down the left flank; but Olejnik’s right arm took the sting out of the effort, allowing Sweeney to clear off the goal-line in heroic fashion.
The Stags found themselves pinned back following the opener in Cambridge yet still managed to spring back to life on odd occasions.
Rose fed CJ Hamilton with a delightful ball and the latter gave it to Walker. The striker looked to swivel and shoot in one movement but fired the ball against the shins of Taylor.
The Stags continued to be put under the cosh by the home side and were relieved to hear the half-time whistle with their lead still intact.
Early into the second-half the hosts continued where they left off. Jevani Brown brought the ball down in style but was unable muster an effort on target.
Down the other end, though, Bishop tried his luck from 25 yards with a scuffed effort that was dragged wide of Forde’s goal.
Preston had a chance of his own seconds later when he met Khan’s corner with a header. However, it was turned behind smartly by Cambridge’s goalkeeper.
The subsequent delivery from the other side eventually found its way over to Rose, who struck the top of the crossbar with an acrobatic overhead kick.
The fans inside Abbey Road had watchful eyes on what was quickly becoming an end-to-end contest. This time David Amoo had two chances to find an equaliser but was unable to take either.
Walker nipped the ball away from Louis John just shy of the hour mark and set away down the right flank. He made a yard of space and curled a ball into the box that was nodded over by Bishop.
Next in line was MacDonald as the ball was cleared by United. The ball rolled kindly into his path 22 yards from goal but the midfielder’s drilled effort sailed slightly over Forde’s crossbar.
Preston then clashed with Amoo inside the penalty area but Nick Kinseley waved away any penalty appeals – before making amends with a superb block moments later.
Amoo was involved again in the 75th minute as he fed teammate Ade Azeez – but Olejnik was on hand to deny the striker with a fantastic save at the near post.
Maris found space for a cross with just ten minutes remaining but Sweeney was in the right place at the right time, yet again.
The Stags suffered an almighty scare in the 88th minute courtesy of Maris. The U’s midfielder struck the ball from distance and it took a hefty deflection against the thigh of Bishop, leaving Olejnik rooted.
Luckily for Flitcroft’s side it rolled wide of the target.
But they had no such luck a few seconds later when Maris again tried his luck.
This time, another effort took another deflection but crashed against the inside of the post for an equaliser.
Lambe then had a chance to win the game for the hosts but fired his effort into the midriff of Olejnik, in added time.
Mansfield Town are in league action next Saturday when they face Northampton Town at One Call Stadium.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED XI: Forde (GK), Halliday, Carroll, Taylor, Deegan ©, Amoo (Lewis 81’), Corr (Azeez 68’), Maris, Lambe, Brown (O’Neil 90’), John.
SUBS NOT USED: Iron (GK), Taft, Osadebe, Davies.
STAGS XI: Olejnik (GK), Benning, Preston, Pearce, Bishop, MacDonald, Khan (Elsnik 76’), Sweeney, Walker (Graham 84’), Hamilton, Rose.
SUBS NOT USED: Logan (GK), Atkinson, Butcher, Sterling-James, Gibbens.
REFEREE: Nick Kinseley.
ASSISTANTS: Matthew Smith & Stephen Finch.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Daniel Leach.
ATTENDANCE: 3,909 (475 away).