Another point and another cleansheet on the road...
An injury ridden, youthful Stevenage team took home a point from Nottinghamshire after a solid and encouraging display in Mansfield.
Dino Maamria made originally just the one change to his starting eleven from the defeat to Bradford City on Tuesday night. Kurtis Guthrie picked up a hip injury in training during the week, and was replaced new loan signing Charlie Lakin.
Prior to kick-off, Luis Fernandez was next to fall into the current crop of injured players, picking up his knock in the warm-up. Charlie Carter moved into the starting XI to play right wing-back, with Luther James-Wildin as the left sided centre half.
It was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the game, after CJ Hamilton drove down the left flank before drilling a low cross into Alex MacDonald. The midfielder really should have done better, but managed to slice his effort well wide of Paul Farman’s goal.
Minutes later, it was Mansfield again looking to open the scoring. Otis Khan’s wide free-kick from 30 yards found Danny Rose on the penalty spot, but after flicking the ball goal-bound with his head, Farman collected easily.
It took until the twelfth minute for Stevenage to have their first shot on target. A misunderstanding from the Mansfield back four let the ball creep through to Paul Taylor unmarked, but fired his effort straight at Conrad Logan in the Stags’ goal.
A couple of half chances for Tomlinson and Benning then followed, but Stevenage were in control of possession and in control of the game.
Loanee Charlie Lakin was certainly making an impact, with his non-stop running and ability to get in behind. A neat spin from the youngster set him up on the edge of the Mansfield box, before a defender bravely threw his body on the line to block the shot.
Ten minutes before half-time, Mansfield thought they were ahead. Ryan Sweeney popped up at the back post to stab home after the second attempt, and as the One Call erupted, the linesman’s flag arose. Much to the relief of Stevenage fans behind the goal.
Charlie Carter, filling in at right wing-back, looked dangerous down his side, and was continuing to cause problems for Mal Benning. After beating the left back and another, Carter broke through into the Mansfield box, but was cut out before causing any trouble.
Goalless at half-time, the game looked like it could go either way.
Mansfield started the second half better than they finished the first, keeping the ball and shooting on sight. CJ Hamilton’s half-volley was blocked by James-Wildin, then Jacob Mellis’ 30 yard strike flew over Paul Farman’s crossbar.
Dino Maamria made two changes in quick succession in the second period, with both Ben Kennedy and Arthur Iontton entering the fray for Paul Taylor and Noor Husin respectively.
Ben Kennedy’s presence seemed to lift the Stevenage players, who were looking more confident with the ball and always able to find a pass.
As Stevenage grew more self-assured, the chances started to come. Chris Stokes flew down the left wing before crossing into Charlie Carter at the back post, who found Ben Kennedy. After swapping the ball onto his stronger left-side, the attacker took a shot on goal, only to be comfortably saved by Logan.
A number of chances then fell for Mansfield as the home crowd became impatient, but Paul Farman was not letting anything into his net today. Danny Rose found himself in front of an open goal at the back post, but the Stevenage goalkeeper stood firm and reached a hand out of nowhere to deny the Mansfield striker.
Five minutes to go and a clumsy Chris Stokes tackle had Stevenage fans’ hearts in the mouths. Not sure what the referee had given, the man in the middle took his time to decide the foul occurred outside the box. Relief.
A matter of minutes later, James-Wildin was at the rescue this time, denying MacDonald a last minute winner with a block on the line.
Five minutes added time was no problem for Dino Maamria and his men, as they stood firm to see out a valuable point on the road.