Craig Priest writes…
In a city full of cyclists, I can think of no better analogy for another game unbeaten, another goalless draw and another afternoon of ultimate frustration than by thinking about the constant spinning of a peddle, going round and round – moving ever closer to the final destination.
Yesterday felt like a ride through a familiar park with one way in and one way out – it started off the same old flat display which didn’t cause any issues for the opposition, progressively got into something a little bit more thrilling, but ultimately left us no better off and back to where we started.
It’s all well and good saying we’ve lost just once in twenty which to be fair is something to be pleased with, but as the games remaining start to decrease – how long do we carry on in solitary saying ‘oh that’s a good point’ and ignoring the bigger picture of putting distance between our rivals?
Yes Danny Rose did have a goal wrongly ruled out, but other than that we created very few other clear cut chances to win the game despite being relatively dominant in the second half which concerns me – at this stage of the season, we should not be walking away from games blaming the official for getting a key decision wrong, we should be walking away asking why we haven’t made sure of a cast iron result.
Yes there is plenty of time to go and plenty of twists and turns to come, but yesterday Lincoln drew with Notts County, two teams a victory over Cambridge would have helped to make ground on – whilst a win would have also kept the pace with Exeter and Wycombe above us, and put more distance between the chasing pack.
The oddments add up, remember back in November time when we did the calculations over the draws and dropped points? Well they continue to add up and could prove costly at the end of the season, especially now where we enter a period of guaranteed distraction.
Naturally we all want to beat Cardiff and bag Manchester City and the riches which follow, and if we achieve that, Saturday’s match against mid-table Cheltenham (a side who turned over an unfocussed Mansfield earlier in the season) becomes a game where naturally players and fans alike will be looking too far ahead, potentially causing us to slip up whilst the teams around us all have very winnable games – chances to gain ground.
Lose Tuesday and the bitter taste that follows also proves a distraction and creates that ball of negativity which Evans can’t handle – an implosion is waiting to happen there, it’s for that reason why in these games such as yesterday, we can’t be satisfied in walking away saying ‘well yeah, we practically won because the referee got it wrong’ – the FA aren’t going to award us the extra points we may have fallen short by at the end of the season are they?
This is in no way a rant, all in all we played well and that confidence continues to grow – the one loss in twenty stat is impressive and even after whatever happens in midweek, there’s plenty of twists to come – let’s just give ourselves the fighting chance when it comes down to the oddments by stepping it up a notch, from the off rather than 45 minutes of warm-up football and 45 minutes of actual dominant play.
Do that, and those peddles will power us to something good – fail to do so, we’ll either up rolling downhill or landing in a heap in a bush!
Danny Rose was called back into action in just one change to the side who credibly earned a replay with Cardiff City last weekend, Kane Hemmings missing out through injury. Joel Byrom also was named on the bench following weeks missing through injury.
The Stags looked nervy early doors as Cambridge saw efforts from Billy Walters land wide and deflect away off of Mal Benning in the opening three minutes – Krystain Pearce also hand to deflect away a chance from the lively Cambridge man.
On ten minutes the Stags saw an opening themselves as Danny Rose whistled a left footed effort wide of David Forde’s goal, A surging run from Mal Benning also saw the attack minded full back fire narrowly over eight minutes later as Mansfield started to find some fluidity in attack.
On the half hour, Benning again tried his luck moments after Angol and Mellis had linked up well only to see Cambridge clear their lines – seven minutes later the hosts opened the Stags up and should have taken the lead, Jake Carroll found himself free in the Mansfield area but fortunately for the visitors, fired well over Logan’s bar.
After the break Conrad Logan had to be alert to make a fantastic save to deny Uche Ikpeazu from six yards following a beautiful pivot to stun the Stags back line, at the other end Lee Angol saw a tame header easily held by Forde after Benning’s crops with 51 minutes played.
The Stags then had two efforts go astray in as many minutes, Forde equal to a beautifully struck MacDonald free kick on 63 minutes before Angol was again involved after Rose unlocked the hosts with a neat reverse ball, Angol skipping a challenge before flashing the ball across the face of goal.
Controversy struck on 68 minutes as a well worked Stags move down the left hand side saw the ball cut back into the box to Danny Rose who deftly turned the ball beyond the reach of Forde and into the bottom corner, celebrations cut short by the linesman flag which video replays post match, proved to be the wrong call.
Two minutes later Rose vollied over from a Benning cross as the Stags turned up the heat on the hosts, Conrad Logan alert at the other end on 77 minutes to keep out an effort from Brown, the game then fizzled to its conclusion – a goalless draw and tenth clean sheet for Conrad Logan.
FULL TIME: Cambridge Utd 0-0 Stags
Paul Anderson (Omari Sterling-James 81) – Krystain Pearce © - Rhys Bennett – Mal Benning
Alfie Potter (Hayden White 64) – Alex MacDonald – Jacob Melliss (Will Atkinson 88) – CJ Hamilton
Danny Rose – Lee Angol
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Oljenik, Paul Digby, Jimmy Spencer, Joel Byrom
Referee: Trevor Kettle Assistants Declan Ford & Paul Yates Fourth Official John Farries
Attendance: 4,324 (499)
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