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REPORT: Mansfield Town 1-1 Colchester United

Kane Hemmings celebrates his goal.
Kane Hemmings celebrates his goal.

Mansfield Town saw a 1-0 lead end up in a 1-1 draw for a third home game in a row as another chance to close the gap on the top three went begging against Colchester United at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.

Kane Hemmings had put the home side in charge with a 22nd minute finish.

But, in a scrappy game of few real chances, Brandon Comley levelled for the visitors six minutes after the break.

Mal Benning had to make a goal line clearance in first half stoppage time while sub Paul Digby saw a second half header nodded up onto the bar by Kane Vincent-Young.

A great save by Sam Walker and a goal line clearance a minute from time denied Benning and then Jacob Mellis' follow-up as the afternoon ended up in frustration.

Mansfield are now three points off the top three with 10 games to go.

Joel Byrom's impressive second half display in midweek was enough to earn him a starting place.

Central midfielder Byrom came on as an interval sub in place of Adam King in midweek and scored his first Stags goal in the 1-1 draw with Lincoln City.

Today Byrom was named ahead of King in the starting line-up.

The only other change for Mansfield was the return of skipper Zander Diamond in the heart of defence for the suspended Rhys Bennett, following his red card against Lincoln.

United arrived on the back of two defeats in a row, striving to stay in touch with the the play-off pack.

Mansfield began strongly, but it was United who had the first goal attempt on four minutes as Dickenson sent a rising shot well over from 18 yards on the left from their first raid forward.

After Colchester survived a home corner and more pressure, Comley was even further over with a hopeful shot from long distance.

Hemmings wasted a chance in the visitors' box when he chose to head across goal and found no one instead of getting his header on target on 13 minutes as a high ball found him at the far post.

At the other end Wright zipped in a low cross from the right which evaded everyone in the home box.

There was a lengthy delay while Lapslie received treatment, but with a sub stripped and ready, he was eventually able to continue.

After Wright had sliced a decent chance wide for Colchester a minute earlier, Mansfield broke through on 22 minutes in the most direct style.

Keeper Logan launched the ball downfield and Hemmings bravely got in between defender Eastman and keeper Walker to loft the ball into the gaping net.

Two minutes later Rose found space on the right and forced Walker to grab his angled shot.

A Stags break was halted by the ball hitting the referee, but Benning picked up the loose ball and teed up MacDonald for an off-target finish.

MacDonald sent a hopeful 30-yard free kick over the bar on 39 minutes.

Logan finally had some serious work to do in the home goal on 42 minutes as Wright beat Benning to the ball to the right hand side of the box and let fly with a powerful shot the keeper was happy to beat away.

Pearce was too high at the far post as he got a head onto Byrom's third corner of the contest before we entered four added minutes.

In the last of the four minutes Benning superbly denied the visitors an equaliser to preserve the lead at the break.

Szmodics played a superb ball down the centre to send Guthrie away. He beat Logan and Benning to the ball and prodded it past the keeper only to see the chasing Benning still manage get there to hook clear before it went over the line.

Hemmings began the second half with a 49th minute booking for a clumsy challenge on Comley, Logan comfortably behind Dickenson's free kick.

On 50 minutes Stags were furious as Hamilton looked to be fouled by Vincent-Young as he broke down the centre, but managed to still get away only for the referee to blow for a foul against the Stags man

To rub salt in the wounds, a minute later United were level as Comley burst into the box with the ball from the right and steered a low finish across goal and inside the far post.

Mansfield responded with a double change on 57 minutes as Mellis and Atkinson replaced Byrom and Anderson.

Kent was booked for sliding in and catching Mellis on 62 minutes.

Pearce produced a crucial tackle to halt Guthrie on 64 minutes after Diamond missed his tackle and United broke two on two.

Diamond was injured in the challenge and limped off to be replaced by Digby with 25 minutes to go.

Szmodics was added to the book a minute later for bringing down Hamilton.

Digby almost put Stags back in front on 69 minutes as he headed a corner towards the top corner only to see Vincent-Young head his finish up against the bar and away.

Pearce, having already been twice warned, was booked for a foul on 71 minutes.

United had a double let-off on 89 minutes as Benning's drive was superbly saved by Walker with Mellis' follow-up cleared off the line. From the corner Pearce headed powerfully over.

The visitors had two corners cleared as they finished the six added minutes well to take home a point.

STAGS: Logan; White, Pearce, Diamond (Digby 65), Benning; Anderson (Atkinson 57), Byrom (Mellis 57), MacDonald, Hamilton; Rose, Hemmings. Subs not used: Olejnik, Angol, Spencer, King.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Jackson (Murray 85), Eastman, Kent, Vincent-Young, Comley, Lapslie (Stevenson 88), Wright (Shodipo 71), Szmodics, Dickenson, Guthrie. Subs not used: Barnes, Prosser, Mandron, Mandeville.

REFEREE: Ross Joyce of Newcastle.

ATTENDANCE: 4,050 (163 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Mal Benning.