Mansfield Town’s hopes of breaking into the League Two play-off spots were dashed when they were held 0-0 at home to Colchester United this afternoon.
In a game that lacked real quality, there were few chances at either end as United chalked up a third clean sheet on the bounce, soaking up a lot of second half pressure from the home side.
The game marked the first time the impressive new Stags scoreboard had been used, but sadly neither side was able to move it off the 0-0 setting over 90 dour minutes of sweat and toil.
The club’s ticket offer brought in a bigger-than-usual crowd. But Stags were unable to chalk up a third home win on the bounce and were in the end relieved to see a Tom Eastman header hit the top of their bar in the final minute.
Mansfield named an unchanged side for the first visit of Colchester in over 14 years.
Steve Evans decided to resist the temptation to bring in striker Danny Rose, who has notched three goals off the bench in the last three games, and stick with the side that won 3-2 at Carlisle United in the Checkatrade Trophy in midweek.
Darius Henderson was declared fit enough to take a place on the bench where he replaced young striker Zayn Hakeem.
Visiting Colchester have struggled since their relegation last season but had just won two on the bounce, 3-0 and 4-0, so arrived in fine fettle.
Mansfield had the first shy at goal in the second minute as a deflected clearance by the visitors dropped to Hemmings, who curled the ball wide of the far post.
Kent was booked for a bodycheck on Hamilton as he tried to break clear from United’s first corner on 12 minutes.
From the free kick Stags should have been ahead as Colchester failed to clear their lines and the ball ran to Green eight yards out who pulled a disappointing low finish wide.
A 23rd minutes scramble saw Clements have a shot blocked and Benning send a low follow-up wide as the home side tried to step up the pressure in a game so far low on entertainment.
A minute later the game and the visitors had its first effort on target as Guthrie nodded a Garvan free kick at Shearer.
Guthrie brought down Bennett on 35 minutes and was then booked for his protests. Skipper Lapslie was then warned for carrying on the argument, but the card did not come back out for him.
Then Lapslie was lectured again along with Hemmings after a clash off the ball.
On 41 minutes we had another rare chance as Garvan fired low at goal from 25 yards and Shearer dived to his right to turn the ball round for a corner.
On 44 minutes Elokobi was added to the book for a high boot that caught Hemmings in the chest, but keeper Walker easily caught Clements’ free kick as a tight half ended goalless.
Mansfield immediately forced a corner on the restart, their first of the game, kicked clear by Johnstone.
Johnstone then nodded the ball at Shearer from a long Dickenson cross, but the effort lacked venom and was an easy catch.
Brindley caused a few home hearts to flutter when he sent in a low, skidding ball across the face of goal from the right but too far in front of any team mates for them to be able to turn it home.
On 58 minutes Stags made their first change as ‘supersub’ Danny Rose replaced Baxendale.
On 62 minutes Green turned well just outside the box to warm Walker’s hands with a low drive after McGuire had won a superb 50-50 tackle.
Danny Rose was so unlucky with a low ball he sent in front of goal after a neat pass from Collins.
Then on 66 minutes Collins crossed to the far post where Green was unable to get over his header, which sailed over.
Johnstone was too high with a flicked header from a 70th minute Colchester corner as we continued to await the breakthrough.
In the final minute Eastman’s header from the right by-line dropped onto the top of the home bar in a real late let-off.
Then three minutes into added time Danny Rose was booked for a dive in the box as Stags looked in vain for a late penalty kick.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Collins, Benning, McGuire, Baxendale (D. Rose 58), Clements, Hamilton, Hemmings, Green. Subs not used: Jensen, Hurst, Thomas, Iacovitti, M. Rose, Henderson.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Elokobi, Kent, Eastman, Dickenson, Garvan, Lapslie, Brindley, Slater (Wright 87), Guthrie, Johnstone (Szmodics 77). Subs not used: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Doyley, Fosu. REFEREE: Darren Deadman of Cambridgeshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,398 (237 away). CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamie McGuire.