Beating Fleetwood on Saturday was hard work for Stags, however last night at the One Call Stadium, Paul Cox’s men un-did all of that hard work as they were buried by Bury, falling to a disgraceful 4-1 defeat.
Fellow struggles Bury to their credit were excellent; they passed the ball and often made it look like they had two extra men – All four goals were far too cheap to give away but were equally deserved and well taken. We were all in agreement last night in Q block that the game was lost not to Bury’s work rate and effort, but to the fact the management completely lost their bottle and failed to change the system when it was clear from the off that it was going to fail.
I remember last January sitting in the commentary box at Stockport in the early stages of our mammoth gallop to the league title, watching the first few minutes and seeing the struggling hosts rip Mansfield apart. We’d started, whether intentionally or not, with a flat five across midfield. Stockport ran riot and should have led thanks to an early penalty, fortunately for us, Danny Hattersley screwed his spot kick wide of the target. Paul Cox then tweaked the formation from a flat five across to the middle to a defensive midfield two (Murray and Howell) and an attacking midfield three (Meikle, Stevenson and Daniel) to support and provide for Matt Green which subsequently worked wonders and sparked THAT memorable run.
I said numerous times in commentary that night that Paul Cox had bottle to change the formation and that, by doing so, he could accept that something wasn’t quite working and give the lads the push in the right direction. In football, you live and die by the choices you make – that night Cox gave us life, last night, we died.
This happened simply because Cox stuck by his guns and continued with a failing system – from the first two minutes it was clear Bury had done their home work and exploited every hole and gap they could find. We allowed the shakers to play out from the back, not once did the keeper take a long goal kick, this is like handing a thief your house keys on Christmas Day and telling them the secret to opening that back door! As soon as you allow the visiting team to dictate play you’ve lost the game, Bury did it all night. Rhead, Stevenson, Daniel and Clucas gave chase when they could but the visitors just kept moving the ball around them making them look silly, it was embarrassing to watch.
Bury’s opener on 25 minutes should have been enough for Cox to shake the pack as Danny Mayor cantered unchallenged a good twenty yards or so before drilling low beyond Alan Marriott into the bottom corner. The opener wasn’t enough for change however the visitors created a number of opportunities for another but fortunately, didn’t find one before the break – Stags created very little of note, nothing that was ever going to change the course of the game.
Had the system changed to a 4-4-1-1 at half time, introducing Hutchinson behind Rhead and perhaps Lindon Meikle to the flanks, we may have witnessed another outcome. Sadly, there was no change and subsequently Bury took full control, adding a second on 56 minutes as Danny Nardiello rattled a shot in-off the post following a crisp low cross from the Bury right, another run which went unchallenged.
Nardiello netted his second and Bury’s third eight minutes later from identical build up play, an untracked run was followed by an unchallenged cross which fell kindly for the Bury hit man to fire crisply home on the half volley.
Still the system remained and still we watched on as Bury kept the ball and dominated play, Sam Clucas’ 71st minute tap in following Junior Daniel’s sweeping cross failed to shake the shaers as Stags clawed it back to 3-1 as a mere 15 seconds from the restart, Jake Carroll made a fool of Marriott as the Bury man lobbed him from distance to make it 4-1.
Laughably, Cox then altered the system, withdrawing Ryan Tafazolli for Ben Hutchinson with eight minutes to play – switching to a 4-4-1-1, Hutchinson went out right, Clucas out left whilst Stevenson supported substitute Ollie Palmer in attack. Question One: How is an attacking midfielder / deep lying forward going to effect the game at 4-1 down on the right hand side. Question Two: If question one can be answered how can he do that in eight minutes and finally, Question Three: why did the change not happen at half time!!
With Martin Riley and James Jennings injured, defensively our options are limited when it’s clear we need a fresh input. Get on the blower too Macclesfield and fetch George Pilkington back, maybe even give Paul Black (left back who signed in the summer for those who can’t remember him) a shot if he’s fit – seriously, what is there too loose?
Drop the system in favour of a 4-4-1-1 and bring in wingers, Junior Daniel playing a wide mans role rather than wingback would be an advantage in my opinion whilst on the right, Louis Briscoe and Lindon Meikle would welcome the opportunity to shine and get at full backs. Bring Murray or McGuire back into the middle and stick the captain’s armband on their arm and you’ve got your flair whilst Hutchinson, just behind Rhead, Palmer or Dyer would provide the goals.
Oh it seems so easy on paper doesn’t it? I’m angry like the rest of you but deep down, I do believe we’ll stay up – I just hope, maybe even beg, that Cox finds the bottle to hold his hands up and admit the system plays into the hands of the opposition far too often and then change it. In January 2013 on a cold night in Stockport he did just that, what followed was something none of us will ever forget, In February 2014 on a cold night in Mansfield, he should have done the same again, don’t let it cost us.
Written by Craig Priest
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Matt Rhead’s powerful 31st minute header this afternoon secured a vital 1-0 victory over Fleetwood Town and will go a long way in the Stags’ fight for league survival. The big front man set Stags on their way and gave them a deserved lead, heading the ball powerfully enough to beat the keeper following Chris Clements’ pinpoint corner.
The Stags played some good football in the early stages and were unlucky not have led early with Junior Daniel, one of two changes, drilled low at the keeper whilst Darryl Westlake & Sam Clucas also came close.
Mansfield thoroughly deserved the victory and in our opinion, showed superb resilience as the game progressed deeper into the second half. No matter how many times Fleetwood attacked or how far forward their defensive line moved, Cox’s men were determined to hold firm and take all three points, this is exactly the type of attitude needed to move the club away from the drop-zone and the chasing the pack.
Walking out of the match, a few faces were still having the same old conversation ‘we need a striker’ – yes this may well be true but in reality, without a miracle, we’re not going to get one.
We are in a situation where we need a striker, but for whatever reason off the field or finically, it’s not going to happen. We have to work with what we’ve got and play to our strengths rather than letting our weaknesses be exposed – today, we played to our strengths and look at the end result.
Losing players through injury will always be a blow, especially the calibre of Martin Riley and James Jennings, however today being forced into changed also played a part in victory. Ritchie Sutton came into the centre back three and performed solidly, tracking his markers all afternoon and very rarely allowing crosses to come into the area. Junior Daniel, who slotted into left wing back in the absence of Jennings, was fully deserving of the man of the match award. His energy down that left hand side gave Mansfield an extra outlet which they’ve been lacking for a while – every time he got on the ball there was a sense of anticipation and that something was going to come.
Bury will be tough on Tuesday evening but with two back to back home wins under their belts, the players have a bit more of a spring in their step – fingers crossed this time, the victory is not just a one off and our champions can achieve stability.
Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
Goals for Sam Clucas and James Jennings helped the Stags on their way to their first home win in twenty weeks this afternoon and despite a late consolation goal for Southend’s Ryan Leonard, Mansfield showed tremendous character to hold on and clinch a massive three points.
It was a nervy afternoon watching on from Q block as Paul Cox’s men looked to respond from last weekend’s gut wrenching last minute sucker-punch at Plymouth, however the disappointment of taking a draw from the cusp of glory, only helped to motivate Cox’s men onto picking up all three points.
We commented several times about how narrow the players looked when they had the opportunity to attack, Chris Clements and Lee Stevenson both looked to pull the strings but often found a forward path non-existent in a system which, for us, fails to get the best out of the players. That said, rather than throw it the towel, the boys kept pushing and eventually found breakthroughs – the opener from Sam Clucas a fine example of a left sided player feeding on scraps from his natural side of the pitch.
There could, and should, have been more throughout with Ryan Tafazolli coming close from a corner and the impressive Matt Rhead being denied by the keeper. The fact the second strike didn’t follow immediately didn’t frustrate the majority of the supporters around us and in turn, didn’t affect the players – instead they dug their heals in and refused to let Phil Brown’s Southend in, whether it be over the top, down the flanks or through the middle the visitors were met by a stern resilience with numerous players putting a foot in and getting in front of stray shots.
Naturally there was always a sense that one goal wouldn’t be enough, Stags were once bitten twice shy and they knew the importance of taking a chance when it came. The prime example came on 64 minutes when a corner came out of the blue – despite being denied with through an initial shot, James Jennings was on hand to bundle home the loose ball to give us all a massive boost.
Southend wouldn’t lie down and came back at Stags in attempt to rescue the game yet the combined force of the Stags’ resilience and the footballing gods saw the visitors hit the bar, via an acute touch of Marriott’s glove, hit the post and fire high into the stands.
Last on Leonards stray effort trickled in to make us all bite the remainder of our nails yet Mansfield hung on and gained a massive three points that will hopefully provide a massive boost going into Tuesday evenings match with Bury.
Remember, it only takes a whisper to start an avalanche – let the points begin to role! COYS
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Mansfield’s poor league form continued yesterday as they were narrowly edged out in a nine goal thriller, losing 5-4 at Fleetwood Town.
The Stags experienced a torrid final few minutes of emotions as first substitute Ross Dyer, back following a loan spell with Hereford United, popped up to equalise in the 89th minute as Stags clawed back from 4-2 down before elation turned to heartbreak as seconds after Dyer’s leveller, fellow substitute James Jennings conceded a penalty which was tucked away for the hosts to cruelly steal the points.
It was strange really as the Stags afternoon had already got off to a bad start, a mistake from Anthony Howell not once or twice but thrice gifted the hosts an opportunity in the box, Gareth Evans the one to eventually convert firing Fleetwood in front after a mere twenty seconds.
The Stags weren’t deterred by falling behind and staged a turn-around, Chris Clements grabbed Mansfield’s first ever goal at Fleetwood on nine minutes with a driven free kick right on the edge of the box which curled into the bottom corner. Howell then atoned for his early error by putting the Stags ahead on 15 minutes.
Mansfield’s lead lasted twenty minutes and the equalizer came in gift form as Martin Riley, back in the line-up following injury, gave away a spot kick - Antoni Sarcevic converted by drilling straight down the middle.
After the break Junior Daniel came close to putting the Stags ahead again as he smashed against the bar, however it was the hosts who seemed to put the game beyond doubt with two quick fire goals, first Sarcevic netted his second of the game on 64 minutes with a fine run before Evans netted his second two minutes later to make it 4-2.
Fleetwood didn’t bank on a Stags fight back, Sam Clucas relight the fire with a close range header on 77 minutes before Ross Dyer thought he’d written the headlines in the 89th minute, seeing the ball over the line as a shot came in through the crowd.
Elation for Mansfield at 4-4 soon turned to despair as back down in the Stags box, a last ditch challenge from substitute James Jennings saw the hosts awarded a penalty. Alan Marriott guessed correctly but couldn’t keep out Sarcevic’s second spot kick of the game, meaning the Fleetwood man not only took home the match ball, but also the points for the plucky hosts.
FULL TIME: Fleetwood 5-4 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2,831 (300 Approximately)
Referee: Scott Matheison
Stags: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley, Lee Beevers (James Jennings 60), Anthony Howell (Ross Dyer 78), Chris Clements, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Godfrey Poku 67), Sam Clucas, Ollie Palmer.
UNUSED SUBS: Matt Rhead, Ryan Tafazolli, Lindon Meikle, Ian Deakin.
Mansfield Town failed to relight their season following last Saturday’s 8-1 win in the FA Cup, slipping to a 3-1 defeat against Oxford United playing the majority of the match with ten men following midfielder Jamie McGuire’s sending off.
The Stags were already a goal down before McGuire’s dismissal, the opening goal coming on twelve minutes as the home defence was sliced apart allowing the visitors to get a shot away.
Alan Marriott failed to deal with the effort and spilt the ball straight into the path of Sean Rigg who slotted into the empty net in front of the visiting fans.
Mansfield fought to get back in the game but soon faced an up hill struggle when McGuire appeared to walk off the pitch following a strong challenge, a fight broke out straight after the tackle and it transpires the Stags midfielder was shown a straight red card in the middle of the crowd.
Oxford used the extra man to their advantage and with pace and fluidity calved Mansfield apart, former Stag Johnny Mullins headed over a deep free kick on 36 minutes with Lee Stevenson collecting a yellow card for giving away the set play.
Shortly before the chance, John Dempster required treatment for a head wound which led to eight minutes added onto the first half, in the first of these Lee Stevenson pulled Stags level with a rasping volley following a deep James Jennings free kick. The game was level for all of five minutes as the visitors threw on James Constable, he slotted home unmarked after former Reading midfielder Dave Kitson’s defence slicing pass to put Oxford 2-1 up going into half time.
Jake Speight was recalled from Alfreton prior to the match and, back in the Stags line-up, came closest to again levelling the match as he drew a save from the Oxford keeper, however with a man less Stags were all over the place and the game was put beyond doubt on 65 minutes as Ryan Williams converted from close range after a drilled cut back from the left hand side.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 1-3 Oxford United
Attendance: 3,831 (769)
Referee: Charles Brakespear
STAGS: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, John Dempster (C), Ritchie Sutton, James Jennings (Lindon Meikle 73), Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Keiran Murtagh 84), Jake Speight
UNUSED SUBS: Ian Deakin, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Matt Rhead, Calvin Andrew
It was a relieving feeling on Saturday when Lee Stevenson finally broke the Stags goal curse, what followed too was a surprising burst of energy infront of goal as Cox’s men went onto grab a total of eight goals to romp through to the FA Cup second round, tomorrow though will be a much sterner test as second place Oxford United come to town.
League form has been frustratingly negative of late and tomorrow, hopefully reignited by the eight goal burst and victory, Cox’s men hope to put it right. Oxford are a good footballing side and stretch teams, the commitment and togetherness has to return if we hope to turn a corner.
Naturally there are still problems and errors with injuries, Ollie Palmer and Ben Hutchinson are both injured and with loanee James Alabi still suspended, the strike forced becomes even more stretched. Sam Clucas will be boosted by his four goals last week but can he bare the weight of expectancy? He’ll have back up presumably from Calvin Andrew or Matt Rhead with Lee Stevenson too however it’s almost critical that the partnership is right to break down what is statistically the best defence in the division.
One positive for Stags is the fact both captain John Dempster and right back Lee Beevers are back from suspension, no doubt this will relieve some tension after a few make-shift back lines in recent weeks.
LAST TIME WE MET
In total Stags and Oxford have met 30 times with the last meeting coming in the conference at the end of the 2009-10 season. David Holdsworth’s Stags lost 2-0 to an Oxford side who went onto gain promotion, whilst the reverse fixture at the One Call Stadium saw Stags edge the game 2-1 with Ryan Williams and Jake Speight (who scored again for Alfreton at the weekend mr Cox!) getting the goals.
At the One Call Stags have eight wins and have slipped to just three defeats.
Striker Ollie Palmer joins Ben Hutchinson on the sidelines whilst James Alabi is suspended and coming to the end of his months loan spell. Chris Clements is close to fitness but is unlikely to feature this weekend.
When Darren Locke headed St Albans City into an eighth minute lead yesterday, fans of Mansfield must have wondered if their goal-shy sides luck would ever change. Going into the match Stags were without a goal in 428 minutes so you can imagine the relief when Lee Stevenson slotted home to stop the clock, ending what was a 472 minute spell without a goal to level the FA Cup encounter.
What followed was an outburst of Stags attack as they dumped their part-time non-league opponents out of the cup by eight goals to one, midfielder Sam Clucas the star man bagging half of the Stags goals.
As mentioned, the Stags began skating on Banana Skins as Locke headed an eighth minute David Keenleyside cross beyond a bewildered Alan Marriott. The Stags were rocked by the saints opener and fought hard to respond and end the goal drought, Lee Stevenson the scorer after being restored to the line up after a man of the match performance for the reserves midweek.
Stevenson was teeded up by a low pass from captain Jamie McGuire a minute before the break and after levelling the match, were soon in front as a second goal followed just a minute later – goal scorer Stevenson turned provider for Anthony Howell who converted low to put the Stags ahead.
After the break the Stags showed no mercy on the hosts as they grabbed a third on 70 minutes thanks to Junior Daniel’s well struck tight angled volley, Sam Clucas got the fourth just four minutes later as he curled beyond Paul Bastock in the home goal.
Ollie Palmer added the fifth minutes later with a fine solo effort, twisting and turning from the half way line before driving a low effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
From then it was the Clucas show as he added goals six, seven and eight taking home the match ball in the process. Goal six came on 81 minutes as substitute Lindon Meikle sent Clucas clean through for a simple tap-in, the former Hereford man grabbed his hat-trick five minutes later, this time clipping the keeper from another Meikle pass before right at the death grabbing his fourth and Stags’ 8th of the tie racing through the middle onto a loose ball before cooly finishing.
FULL TIME: St Albans City 1-8 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3,251 (450 Approx)
Referee: Mark Heywood
Stags: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, James Jennings (Paul Black 88), Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire (C), Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson (Lindon Meikle 78), Ollie Palmer (Godfrey Poku 90+1)
UNUSED SUBS: Matt Rhead, Calvin Andrew, Keiran Murtagh, Ian Deakin.
Mansfield Town’s miserable run continued last night as they were beaten 3-0 by Southend and had debutant loanee James Alabi and defender Lee Beevers both dismissed. Hosts Southend also had Conor Clifford sent off during the first half however in truth, the hosts were well in control from the off.
Paul Cox threw youngster Alabi straight into the mix as one of three changes, the stoke striker came close early on as he turned Ben Hutchinson’s cross wide however he was soon watching on as Anthony Straker converted Kevan Hurst’s 24th minute cross to put the hosts ahead.
Seven minutes later, Alabi went in harsh on the hosts Luke Prosser and was shown a straight red card meaning he’ll now miss the majority of his month’s loan through suspension. The hosts used their man advantage well and could have had a second had it not been for a fine save from the returning Alan Marriott and an expert block from Ritchie Sutton.
With four minutes to go before the break, the numbers were evened out as Calvin Andrew was fouled by Clifford, who followed in the footsteps of Alabi by being shown a straight red card.
Further controversy was to come before the break, Jamie McGuire sent a backwards header to Marriott who appeared to carry the ball over the line and subsequently concede the games second goal with the linesman ruling Marriott had indeed crossed the line with the ball.
Matt Rhead and Sam Clucas were introduced at the interval for Stags who were chasing a two goal turnaround, the duo linked up well and Clucas had a handful of efforts go astray however the majority of the play belonged to the hosts although Mansfield managed not to concede a third.
Their job was made difficult on 89 minutes as Lee Beevers picked up his second booking of the game for a foul on ex Stags man Will Atkinson, inevitably the hosts grabbed their third goal in the fifth minute of five added as Hurts shot deflected beyond Marriott.
Another defeat for Cox’s men see’s them slip to 12th – with Beevers suspended the defence becomes even more stretched ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup match with St Albans whilst the goal drought stretches to an alarming 428 minutes of football.
FULL TIME: Southend United 3-0 Mansfield
Attendance: 4,824 (199)
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Calvin Andrew (Sam Clucas HT), Jamie McGuire (C), Jack Blake, Junior Daniel (Lindon Meikle 62), Ben Hutchinson (Matt Rhead HT), James Alabi
Unused Subs: Keiran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, James Jennings, Ollie Palmer
A late goal for Plymouth Argyle yesterday sunk Mansfield Town down to 11th as their poor run of form continued. Stags played some great stuff early on but again failed to find the net, meaning they are now 338 minutes, excluding time added on, without a goal.
Cox was forced to ring the changes with Dempster and Jennings both suspended, with fellow defender Martin Riley also injured he was forced to recall George Pilkington from his loan spell at Forest Green Rovers, the experienced defender came straight into the side as one of five changes to make his first start in a Stags shirt since the 4-1 hammering at Cambridge United in October last year.
Goalkeeper Alan Marriott failed a late fitness test which saw Liam Mitchell handed a league debut, along with Pilkington also returning to the side were John McCombe, Ben Hutchinson and Ritchie Sutton.
The Stags began rampant playing some mouth-watering football on the deck, splitting open a fragile and stretched Argyle defence on numerous occasions, winning two early corners yet despite pinpoint deliveries from Hutchinson, the visitors were given a let off as Matt Rhead was judged to have fouled his marker.
On ten minutes home debutant Jack Blake earned a corner with a rasping shot which deflected behind following flowing football between him, Hutchinson, Clucas and Rhead. The corner was again pinpoint and headed away into captain for the day Jamie McGuires path, sadly the terrier-esc midfielder failed to keep his volley down.
Three minutes later Lee Beevers and Matt Rhead split the visitors open with a 1-2 down the right hand side, Beevers provided the drilled cross which saw Clucas denied from point blank range by the keeper.
Stags came close again on 26 minutes when Beevers was the unlikely source heading over Hutchinson’s corner, moments later Liam Mitchell was on hand to keep out a stray shot as the visitors had a rare sight of goal.
Mansfield failed to maintain their tempo and resulting to a more direct game, the half soon fizzled out and the sides headed into the dressing rooms for the break on level terms. After the restart the visitors began to look lively causing Mitchell to deny Reid after good interchanging play.
Matt Rhead was then provider on 50 minutes with a sweeping cross from the right hand side, Ben Hutchinson miscued his effort much to the visitors relief. Seconds later it was roles reversed, Rhead denied by the well placed keeper.
On the hour mark Junior Daniel stood over a well placed free kick however failed to keep hid effort on target, firing into the Quarry Lane End – this became the story of the remainder of the game as Mansfield struggled to find their shooting boots.
It looked likely the game would end goalless and give Stags their third consecutive 0-0 draw, however in the second minute of four added on, a deep free kick from the visitors saw them grab the winner as Trotman beat Liam Mitchell to the looping delivery and head into the gaping goal.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 0-1 Plymouth Argyle
Attendance: 3,379 (460)
Referee: Gary Sutton
Stags: Liam Mitchell, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Sam Clucas (Ollie Palmer 77), Jamie McGuire ©, Jack Blake, Junior Daniel, Ben Hutchinson (Lindon Meikle 82), Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 67)
Unused Subs: Paul Black, Keiran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell
Mansfield Town are now without a win in five games but picked up their third straight draw this evening, drawing 0-0 with manager-less Bury. The Stags played the final 28 minutes with ten men after captain John Dempster was dismissed just after the hour for violent conduct following a late challenge, however despite playing with ten men, the Stags should not be satisfied with a point after wasting numerous chances during the first period.
Up against a struggling side it should have been like taking candy from a baby for Stags, however the lack of killer instinct seemed evident in the first half as they failed to beat former Burnley keeper Brian Jensen in the Bury goal.
The Stags first chance came just two minutes in as Matt Rhead provided the flick for Ollie Palmer however the young striker was beaten by the wise old head of Jensen who reacted quicker, racing off his line to collect the loose ball.
Next up it was the turn of debutant Jack Blake, brought into the line up at the expense of Kerian Murtagh. The Nottingham Forest loanee linked up well with Sam Clucas before unleashing a 25 yard drive which was palmed behind by the active Jenson for the games first corner, which was then punched away.
A rare mistake between the shakers gloves-man and his defender saw Stags handed a real chance on 21 minutes, however Matt Rhead couldn’t turn Ollie Palmers pinpoint cross into a goal as he flicked wide from six yards.
Managerless Shakers then had two chances in three minutes as Danny Hylton weaved his way into the box before teeing up Tom Soares, the Bury front man failed to keep his effort down minutes before Alan Marriott sprung into action, denying former Burton Albion striker Shaun Harrad who squeezed an effort through a crowd of bodies.
Ollie Palmer was then felled as he looked to latch onto Sam Clucas’ central pass on 33 minutes, the resulting free kick from James Jennings failed to inspire as it bounced back off the wall.
The first half’s chances concluded on 41 minutes for Stags as James Jennings’ deep free kick was crossed back in to the box by Beevers. Junior Daniel controlled expertly but was denied by an equally fine save by Jensen, his opposite number Marriott was also called into action second later at the other end as Harrad connected with a well hit volley from Sean Beeley’s right sided cross – Mansfield withstood two consecutive corners to go into the break level.
The second half began a drab affair as the two sides battled it out in the centre of the park, only Jack Blake dared change things as he hit an early dipping effort however it did nothing bar awake the ball boys.
On 62 minutes Jensen made a rare fumble to gift the Stags an unexpected corner, Jennings delivery failed to test the hosts and as they countered, John Dempster appeared to lunge into a rash challenge which led to a 22 man brawl, before the Stags captain was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
Ritchie Sutton soon replaced Ollie Palmer to keep the back four, with his feet barley on the turf, keeper Alan Marriott pulled off a fine save to deny Chris Sedgwick as the hosts looked keen to take advantage of the extra man.
Marriott again was called into action as the ten men were pulled apart down the left hand side, this time Danny Mayor pulled the trigger as Mansfield, without leader Dempster and with Riley struggling with injury, began to crumble.
On 74 minutes, Martin Riley limped off injured being replaced by Godfrey Poku, making his debut a year and roughly three months after signing from Luton. The former Hatter slotted in as an emergency centre half and was settled in as Marriott again saved from Mayor.
At the other end a forceful run from Rhead saw Jennings given the chance to take a dangerous set play, the only danger however was Bury’s counter attack following the weak delivery – Godfrey Poku soon put a stop to that with a solid clearance.
Alan Marriott again proved the hero with a one handed save to deny a 25 yard curler from Tom Soares, again after a teasing run from substitute Mayor – the Stags soaked up the building pressure from the resulting corner, watching on as Harrad’s cross was nodded over by Hylton with the seven minutes to go.
A final throw of the dice was made a minute later as Calvin Andrew replaced Matt Rhead, however the action was all at the other end as Bury romped forward searching for a late winner, James Jennings collected his fourth booking of the season following a mistimed challenge in the centre circle.
Bury pilled on the pressure in search of a winner, somehow the Stags clung onto the point through seven anguishing minutes of additional time. To end a disappointing night, boss Paul Cox was sent to the stands where a fan came across to have words, stewards intervened to stop any potential trouble.
FULL TIME: Bury 0-0 Mansfield Town
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 2,571 (351)
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley (Godfrey Poku 74), James Jennings, Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire, Jack Blake, Junior Daniel, Ollie Palmer (Ritchie Sutton 64), Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 84)
Unused Subs: Kieran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson.
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