MATCH ANALYSIS: Stags disappoint but still take a point
Mansfield Town's drab 0-0 home draw with Cambridge United on Saturday had very little to commend it for on the entertainment front.
But boss Adam Murray is adamant that, on days when it just doesn’t click, his side should come out of a game with something.
So on one such day he was delighted to see them take a point and a clean sheet against a Cambridge side that have not started well but he believes will end up in the play-offs.
Murray said after the game that you can’t play well and win every game and therefore points like these are the difference later in the season.
With defences on top the two goalkeepers had little to do and it was probably only the driving wind and rain, which further hampered the players, that kept the crowd awake.
On the day the Stags could have gone top of League Two while Cambridge were surprisingly sat bottom without a League win.
Murray made six changes from his midweek EFL side with Darius Henderson again partnering Matt Green up front.
But the United defence, marshalled superbly by Leon Legge, kept the pair at bay and Stags’ best goal attempts came from midfielder Mitch Rose.
On 11 minutes Rose volleyed a clearance back over the bar from 20 yards, on 24 minutes he forced Will Norris onto his only real save with an 18-yard snapshot and on 41 minutes Norris was well placed to grab Rose’s ambitious 35-yard dipper.
But those efforts aside plus a Rhys Bennett header that sailed over late on, Mansfield were rendered toothless.
The Stags had an early scare when Bennett got caught out on the by-line and Luke Berry headed home from six yards only to be denied by an offside flag.
Mansfield also had the rub of the green when George Taft committed a silly second foul five minutes after being booked after the break and was lucky not to be sent off.
In terms of clear chances, it was Cambridge who carved out the only two of the game.
On 32 minutes Stags were carved open down the centre as Conor Newton raced into the box. But, as he prepared to shoot, in slid Mal Benning with a superb challenge to halt him.
The chance of the game arrived on 61 minutes as Berry cross from the right to an unmarked Newton who, from eight yards and with Scott Shearer at his mercy, somehow finished wide of the far post.
At that point everyone in the stadium must have expected what the final score would be.
Cambridge did suffer a blow when James Dunne blocked a CJ Hamilton shot and stayed down for lengthy treatment, eventually stretchered off with a brace on an ankle injury. But the five added minutes at the end still couldn’t conjure up an elusive goal for either team.
Both clubs did try to play on the floor in spells, but neither could sustain it or create an end product and the conditions were not helpful either.
Rose was again a prominent figure with some great tackles and his goal attempts.
But the defence took the limelight with the assured Krystian Pearce winning so much in the air.
Boss Murray could not be accused of settling for a point as he made three attacking changes in the second half, but United stood firm as both sides drew a blank.
Almost a carbon copy of these sides’ meeting at the One Call Stadium on the final day of last season, this was a game to forget.
Murray described watching it as like having pins stuck in his eyes.
But, by the end of the season, it will be interesting to see how crucial this point may be.