Captain Ollie Clarke’s goal earned a point for Mansfield Town away at Walsall on Tuesday evening, with the two sides playing out a 1-1 draw at a bitterly cold Banks’s Stadium.
The Saddlers took the lead in sub-zero conditions in the West Midlands, as debutant Max Melbourne profited from a Tyreik Wright delivery.
However, Clarke made maximum impact from the bench, firing home after a wonderful team move to ensure the shares were spoiled.
After a prolonged break on the sidelines due to postponements, Nigel Clough named an unchanged lineup from the 1-0 win at Southend on Saturday 23 January.
Goalkeeper Aidan Stone kept his place between the sticks, and January signing Stephen Quinn started in midfield.
There was a place on the bench for new man Oli Sarkic, who signed on loan from Blackpool on Deadline Day.
Walsall immediately looked to take the game to Mansfield down the right-hand side, and it took alert defending from Ryan Sweeney to block Liam Kinsella’s low effort.
The Stags responded well, however, with George Lapslie finding Jamie Reid after a surging run towards the Walsall penalty area. The frontman was allowed to cut in on his left foot after receiving the pass, firing just wide of Liam Roberts’ right-hand post.
Despite making an impact in the early stages, Lapslie’s evening was cut short by injury, as he was replaced by Clarke on 12 minutes.
Moments after the change, Caolan Lavery looked to take advantage of a pass over the top, but Farrend Rawson timed his tackle well to dispossess the Walsall forward.
After a scrappy period in the game, the Saddlers took the lead from a set piece situation. Debutant Melbourne was on hand to guide the ball past Stone following Wright’s free-kick delivery.
Mansfield looked to restore parity instantaneously, but full-back Stephen McLaughlin’s first-time effort flew wide of the mark.
However, with a wonderfully worked goal, the Stags drew level. Jordan Bowery and Reid linked up superbly, and with space opening up for the Mansfield No.9, he unselfishly laid the ball to Clarke, who struck low under Roberts.
Nigel Clough’s men looked to inflict further damage onto their hosts, with Kellan Gordon seeing his cross-cum-shot diverted behind for a corner kick.
There was a slight scare for Walsall defender Dan Scarr, who sliced Bowery’s forceful delivery just wide of the near post.
On the stroke of half-time, the Stags went mightily close to taking a one-goal lead into the interval. A perfectly weighted pass by Clarke found the feet of Bowery, but the striker’s powerful effort was well kept out by Roberts.
The Stags continued to apply the pressure into the second-half, as Harry Charsley poked towards goal from Reid’s flick-on.
Darrell Clarke’s men did come closer moments later, as Lavery headed marginally wide from Wright’s free-kick delivery.
As the snow started to fall in the West Midlands, referee Alan Young was unfortunately placed during a Mansfield counter, with the ball hitting the official’s heel from George Maris’ pass.
Nigel Clough handed a Stags’ debut to new man Sarkic with 20 minutes on the clock, as he replaced midfielder Quinn.
A long ball forward was then superbly brought down by Bowery, who saw his strike towards goal saved by Roberts. Charsley looked to profit from the rebound, seeing his off-balance effort fly the wrong side of the post.
A foul by Gordon in the corner earned him a booking late on, with the altercation aptly summing up what was a frustrating, scrappy second period for both sides.
That would be the last action of a tight contest in the West Midlands, a result that takes both sides’ draw totals to 12 in Sky Bet League Two.
STAGS XI: Stone (GK), Gordon, Rawson, Sweeney, McLaughlin, Maris, Lapslie (Clarke 13’), Quinn (72’), Charsley, Reid, Bowery.
UNUSED SUBS: Stech (GK), Benning, Perch, Sinclair, Law.
WALSALL XI: Roberts (GK), Melbourne, Sadler, Scarr, Kinsella, Lavery (Osei Yaw 77’), Gordon, Bates (Vincent 77’), McDonald, White, Wright (Nolan 62’).
UNUSED SUBS: Rose (GK), Norman, Cockerill-Mollett, Osadebe.
REFEREE: Alan Young
ASSISTANTS: Kevin Howick & Ollie Williams
FOURTH OFFICIAL: James Oldham