LOMAS ON STAGS: Aileen the only winner, but Stags pocket precious point
Storm Aileen was the only winner at the One Call Stadium last night as the drenched players of Mansfield Town and Wycombe Wanderers had to settle for a point and a clean sheet apiece.
It extended Wycombe’s unbeaten sequence at Mansfield to seven games and over 10 years.
But they will feel they should have won the game as, in the first half, home keeper Conrad Logan kept them at bay and, after the break, they failed to capitalise on having Aileen at their backs.
The weather did get notably worse in the second half and Stags deserve much credit for their solid defending in the face of the wind and rain to give Logan a much quieter half.
Despite a few grumbles, thankfully the vast majority of Stags fans took the result on the chin and went home to get dry and warm.
They know this is still the early days of a work in progress and not every home game will finish up like the Grimsby one last weekend.
Wycombe are a strong, solid outfit with some very talented players and one of the nicest away managers I ever get to deal with.
Four points from two home games in four days is a decent return and Stags, in 11th place, are just three points off third place and two outside the play-off spots.
Boss Steve Evans is always refreshingly honest and he admitted post-match that he perhaps should have rested two or three players after they had given so much against Grimsby four days earlier.
But, wanting to be loyal to the XI who had done so well for him, he sent them out to go again and said after 15 minutes he could see some were already looking leggy.
The substitutions and formation tweaks he made during the game all looked logical, but on the night it simply wasn’t to be for him.
The first half was a decent game with Stags on top until midway through the half when Wycombe stepped up and peppered Logan with some decent goal attempts and should have scored.
But the second half was absolutely dire with barely a sniff of a chance at either end and the warmth of a car or bar was beckoning well before the end.
However, some players emerged with much credit, despite the failure to score.
A second clean sheet of the season was achieved largely thanks to Logan’s heroics – answering his early-season critics in style.
Krystian Pearce and Divid Mirfin were also immense in front of him.
Alex MacDonald gave a whole-hearted display for half-an-hour which brought cheers from the stand, before fading from the game. And Johnny Hunt had another steady game at left back, caught out only once when robbed by Ebere Eze, who fired his finish across goal.
Up front, Lee Angol worked the Wycombe defenders well in the first half, often out-numbered, though strike partner Kane Hemmings had a quiet night and really needs that first goal to get him going.
New signing Calum Butcher was heavily involved in the first 15 minutes but was then largely ineffective out of position on the right of midfield.
Evans said he wanted to find a way of playing Butcher and Jacob Mellis in the same team, but this does not look to be the right way so far.
Butcher can play a holding role so maybe he would be better employed at the base of Evans’ diamond?
Both players, two of the most talented at the club, had been substituted by the hour mark. So it is back to the drawing board or how to accommodate them both or a straight choice between them?
Will Atkinson also deserves praise after he worked his socks off in the second half and fellow interval sub Paul Anderson was inches away from being a match winner as he tried in vain to touch home Alfie Potter’s cross, Dominic Gape doing just enough to prevent him getting there without conceding a penalty.
Mansfield have still only lost once this season and picking up a point on nights like last night is what top sides do.
Victory at Lincoln on Saturday would make this point even more impressive.
The scene is set for Sincil Bank and what should prove to be a mouthwatering local derby.
What did you think of the match? A hard point won or two more points dropped? Have your say HERE