MANSFIELD Town had the better of things without finding the net as the first half at Southport ended 0-0 this afternoon.
Boss Paul Cox had asked for a reaction after last weekend’s miserable FA Trophy exit at Droylsden and, with four changes, he got that today in a first 45 minutes in which his side largely bossed things without really troubling the home keeper too much.
The closest we came to a goal was Luke O’Neill sending a free kick against the home crossbar.
Mansfield began well, Southport having to defend a long Freeman throw.
Murray helped it back in and, when it reached Dempster on the edge of the box, he lashed in a powerful shot which looked a goal all the way until it took a deflection for a corner.
From that Dyer glanced a header over the bar from the near post.
Howell’s tackle on Whalley in the box ended a threat after Smith had won a tackle with Sutton that the defender should have dealt with.
On eight minutes Stags won a free kick 20 yards from goal on the left. From that O’Neill curled a superb free kick over the wall and against the crossbar.
Mansfield comfortably cleared Southport’s two corners while Marriott and Dyer were first to long throws by Owens from the left.
On 12 minutes O’Neill sent in Stags’ second corner from the right, finding Briscoe at the near post who hooked the ball up and over.
Five minutes later Freeman’s long throw was cleared to Murray, 18 yards from goal, and he hurried a low effort just wide.
Davis replaced Akrigg as the home defence had to reshuffle on 20 minutes.
Then a neatly threaded pass by O’Neill saw Dyer turn well in the box but his shot struck a home defender.
Although Murray had done his best with a running argument with the referee, it was Sutton who saw the first yellow card of the day for jumping into the back of Whalley on 25 minutes.
McMillan was down quickly to grab the ball as Howell tried to capitalise on a Meikle pass as Stags continued to dominate.
A neat move down the centre ended with O’Neill’s low cross turned back towards his own goal by Poku, forcing his own keeper to get down and grab.
Southport were finally enjoying some pressure of their own and their best moment of the half came on 40 minutes with a run from Whalley that saw him turn Sutton and come inside to lift a 25 yard shot over the Stags crossbar.
Green had a firm shot blocked while Whalley dragged one well wide from 25 yards and Poku fired low at Marriott from distance as we reached the halfway point without a goal.