MANSFIELD Town were locked goalless at half-time in their BSBP Bank Holiday Monday match at Stockport, reports John Lomas.
The Stags had been forced into a change at centre half, where Martin Riley was forced out with a foot injury which saw Richie Sutton brought in for his full debut.
Otherwise it was the same side that beat Kettering Town 3-0 on Saturday with Nick Wood coming onto the bench to replace Sutton.
Newly-relegated Stockport included ex-Stags striker Martin Gritton.
The game kicked off in typical Manchester drizzle, and referee Peter Banks almost contributed to a Stockport opener in the third minute as a pass bounced off his leg towards McConville who curled an effort over the far angle.
Futcher was then shown a yellow card on four minutes for scything down Rowe, O’Neill heading away McConville’s free kick from his central position in the wall.
Marriott made a good stop at his near post soon after as McConville tried a low blast after being put into space inside the right of the box by Nolan’s pass.
O’Neill joined Futcher in the book on eight minutes for bringing down Rowe.
But a minute later Dyer might have opened Stags’ account with their first real attack.
Briscoe did well, taunting two defenders on the right before accelerating and curling in a long far post cross perfectly onto the head of Dyer who should have done better than heading firmly into the sidenetting.
When Stags failed to clear a left wing cross soon after the ball reached a surprised McConville whose hurried volley flew across the goalmouth.
Meikle carved out two half-chances with his left wingplay, Green seeing a shot blocked and then his little backheel towards goal kicked clear soon after.
There was a hold-up while Futcher received treatment for a facial injury, but he was soon back in the action.
A good pass from Gritton sent Nolan onto a 23rd minute run at the end of which he set up Elliott for a 25 yard shot on target that Marriott comfortably dealt with.
County threatened briefly to break away with Nolan in full flight. But Meikle tracked back well, stayed with him, and snuffed out the danger just inside the Mansfield half.
Dyer was well over from 30 yards in Mansfield’s next raid, then Marriott just beat McConville to a through ball as play swung straight back downfield.
Green was also too high for Paul Cox’s men after shuffling himself into a shooting position to the left of goal.
Again play swung to the other end where McConville’s hopeful low effort from distance was gathered by Marriott in what was a very even contest.
Meikle won the first corner of the game on 32 minutes and when that was cleared out to Briscoe, lurking on the edge of the box, he swung a right boot at the ball, sending it crashing narrowly wide with keeper Glennon rooted.
Briscoe might have gone down as Holden tried to haul him back after the winger had gone past him in the box. But Briscoe stayed on his feet and the referee gave nothing as the ball rolled for a goalkick.
By now Stags were enjoying the edge on possession and the home fans starting to grow restless.
Three times in succession Holden denied Stags chances as he blocked a Briscoe shot, halted the winger’s run and then stuck out a toe before Green could get in a finish in the box.
Nolan tested Marriot from 20 yards on 41 minutes but the effort was central and routine for the keeper.
The half ended in stalemate with Mansfield, after a slow start, on top in terms of possession but neither keeper seriously tested.
STOCKPORT: Glennon, Holden, O’Donnell, McConville, Nolan, Gritton, Sheridan, McCann, Rowe, Elliott, Piergianni. Subs: Ormison, Miles, Halls, Chadwick, Chamberlain.
STAGS: Marriott; O’Neill, Sutton, Futcher, Kendrick; Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Meikle; Dyer, Green. Subs: Stevenson, Connor, Worthington, Wood, Redmond.
REFEREE: Peter Banks of Merseyside.