Lindon Meikle’s 72nd minute strike earned Mansfield a deserved point against Portsmouth at the One Call Stadium this afternoon, the Stags substitute getting the side back on track after the visitors had overturned Ben Hutchinson’s spectacular opener to lead 2-1 at half time.
Cox’s Mansfield side put in a good display against the former Premier League outfit as the intensity of their performance matched the passionate 4,000 string crowd. The result keeps Stags in mid-table and again silences the critics that have said Mansfield are not ready to compete with the big boys in the division.
Both sides enjoyed early spells with the ball although it was Portsmouth that saw more of it during the opening ten minutes. Mansfield struggled to find any real rhythm going forward, again playing the wing back system, however stabs from Sam Clucas and Calvin Andrew did test Phil Smith in the Pompey goal.
The Stags knew it would take something special to open the scoring and that’s exactly what they got on 32 minutes, as an attempted Portsmouth clearance fell for Ben Hutchinson some 35 yards from goal. The front man, restored to the side prior to last weekend’s victory at Wycombe, controlled expertly with his chest before spectacularly volleying with venom over a bemused Smith.
Hutchinson’s wonder-strike had silenced the Portsmouth crowd but not the Pompey players as they looked for a reply, two goals in the space of five minutes saw control swing back to the visitors. The first came on 38 minutes as a dominant run from Patrick Agyemang cut the Stags back line apart, his drilled cross was thundered home from six yards by the highly impressive Andy Barcham.
Pompey’s goal scorer soon set another as he robbed Lee Beevers of possession on the half way line before bursting into the box. Alan Marriott made a fine block with his legs but couldn’t keep out David Connolly who was first to the loose ball.
After the break Mansfield battled to pull one back however it looked unlikely, another bitter blow was added on 66 minutes as Beevers came across to prevent Barcham from advancing – the defenders problematic shoulder again popped out and he was taken off immediately.
The lion hearted defender’s replacement was Lindon Meikle, it was he that proved to be the hero on 72 minutes as he drilled home at the far post following fellow substitute Ollie Palmer’s low cross.
Back on level terms Mansfield pushed for that elusive winner, despite efforts from Palmer, Meikle and a belter from the impressive Jamie McGuire; it just wouldn’t come – the full time whistle sealing a pleasing point.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 2-2 Portsmouth
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 4,577 (1,005)
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers (Lindon Meikle 68), Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley, John Dempster ©, James Jennings, Jamie McGuire, Chris Clements, Calvin Andrew (Matt Rhead 64), Sam Clucas (Ollie Palmer 54), Ben Hutchinson
Unused Subs: Liam Mitchell, Lee Stevenson, Ryan Tafazolli, Adam Murray
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