Only a continued lack of finishing prevented Mansfield Town booking their place in the FA Cup second round at the first time of asking on Saturday.
Adam Murray’s men turned in their best display of passing and possession football of the season to dominate League One strugglers Oldham Athletic with Chris Clements running the show from deep in midfield.
They rarely looked like conceding with Ryan Tafazolli and Lee Collins absolutes rocks in the centre of defence. However, a third game without a goal left them facing a tricky replay at Boundary Park next Tuesday.
Stags have now only found the net twice in five games and, although Murray is keeping faith with what he has got, he may need to get his strike force some help with a loan player at some stage.
Matt Green is desperately seeking to regain his goal touch while Adi Yussuf is still inexperienced at this level to start regularly and a new face in the dressing room may give everyone an added edge.
Mansfield did have their chances, but a terrible miss by Reggie Lambe and two heroic goal line clearances by Cameron Dummigan ensured Oldham escaped with a replay that few in the stadium will have felt they deserved.
Lambe, who otherwise, had an excellent game, missed the best chance of the afternoon in first half stoppage time.
Craig Westcarr put over a superb curling cross from the left and picked out Lambe five yards from goal and in a central position from where he volleyed over the bar in what was a golden opportunity. If he has miscued it would have flown into the net.
The national video highlights of the game somehow omitted the miss which will have helped spare his blushes.
The Latics were indebted to Dummigan for his two crucial interventions.
On 57 minutes Green was given sight of goal from a great pass by Nicky Hunt, but he saw keeper Josh Coleman get down to stop his first shot and, from a tight angle, then squeezed a follow-up on target only to see Dummigan block on the line.
On 80 minutes Dummigan also got in the way of a goalbound Nathan Thomas shot.
In a first half in which Mansfield had the edge, it had taken a superbly-timed tackle by Joseph Mills to rob Green as he looked set to pull the trigger while Brian Wilson made a crucial block on a Mitch Rose shot.
But Oldham did have chances in an entertaining end to end half, Mark Yeates seeing a shot deflect just wide after Hunt had lost the ball, then Tafazolli got in the way of a Dominic Poleon effort.
The Latics’ best chance came on 29 minutes when Blair Adams’ slip let Yeates slip in full debut-making Ricardo Fuller. But the ex-Stoke star slotted wide from a great position.
After the break Mansfield were completely dominant against a Latics side with only two wins to their name all season, Brian Jensen having only one real save to make as he pushed away a Lee Croft shot, diving to his right after the substitute had cut in from the right.
But, for all their attractive approach play, the goal would not come for Mansfield who now go into an FA Cup replay with Oldham for the second time in three seasons, the Latics ending up triumphant that time.
However, with Mansfield ‘s away form being far better than their home form and David Dunn’s men only winning once at home all season, no one is writing off the Stags in what will be a testing replay.
STAGS: Jensen, Rose (N. Thomas 63), Collins, Chapman, Clements, Green (Yussuf 82), Westcarr, Tafazolli, Hunt, Lambe (Blair 80), Adams. Subs not used: Shearer, J. Thomas, McGuire, Smith.
OLDHAM: Coleman, Mills, Dieng, Poleon (Rasulo 73), Philliskirk, Winchester, Wilson, Yeates, Fuller (Croft 55, Eckerlsey 79), Higdon, Dummigan. Subs not used: Dunn, Vassell, Byrnes, Renshaw.
REFEREE: Tony Harrington of Cleveland.
ATTENDANCE: 2,886 (512 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Clements.
Full report and reaction at www.chad.co.uk