MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 1, Portsmouth 1
A Ryan Tafazolli own goal saw Mansfield Town agonisingly held to a 1-1 home draw by play-off rivals Portsmouth at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The Stags gave as good as they got against their wealthier and more illustrious opposition and had Scott Shearer to thank for another great penalty save, having saved two in one game against Morecambe last month.
Mansfield even grabbed a lead through Matt Green’s 12th of the season, with an assist for debut-making Mani Dieservuwe, as Stags ended a goal drought of 302 minutes.
But Tafazolli could do little as Ben Davies’ corner found the net off his legs just before the break.
Neither side could then go on and grab a winner with a draw little help to either side at this stage of the campaign.
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Pompey had won three of their last five and often looked the more cultured. But Stags dug in deep with superb displays by Krystian Pearce, Tafazolli, Lee Collins and Mitch Rose.
Mansfield gave a debut to loanee Chesterfield striker Dieseruvwe for today’s big home game against play-off rivals Portsmouth.
The 6ft 5ins hitman was selected to partner Matt Green up front.
A big surprise today was the absence of winger Reggie Lambe, called up by Bermuda and set to miss the next three games.
In came Fulham loanee Sean Kavanagh for only his second Stags start.
Along with Lambe, also missing from the side that lost 1-0 at Bristol Rovers was Matty Blair, relegated to the bench.
Stags were looking to halt a run of three straight 1-0 defeats and no goals in 276 minutes of football to keep their play-offs dream alive.
After a frantic start, Stags might have had a penalty after six minutes had the referee spotted a blatant pull by Burgess on Dieservuwe in the box. But nothing was given.
Then on 11 minutes Rose controlled an Alfei throw and weaved his way inside three opponents on the right of the box before blasting a vicious shot at goal that Fulton blocked at his near post.
Stags defended the first corner with Collins blocking a Burgess shot before Stags broke quickly and Fulton had to leave his box to clear before Green reached the ball.
However, Mansfield had a let-off on 21 minutes.
Alfei brought down McNulty as he turned him on the left of the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
But Shearer once again came to the rescue as he dived to his left to turn it aside.
Instead it was Mansfield who broke the deadlock on 26 minutes.
Dieseruvwe laid the ball in front of Green and he sped into the box on the left before delivering a cool low finish across Fulton and inside the far post.
Two minutes later Webster went down under Dieseruvwe’s challenge and out came a yellow card for the new boy.
On the half-hour Rose was booked for delaying a free kick and home fans were baying a minute later as Green was cautioned for the same office.
That was three home bookings in as many minutes.
On 38 minutes a loose ball came out to Rose 25 yards from goal and he quickly sent in a snapshot of the outside of his right boots that fizzed just wide of the near post.
However, two minutes from the break, Stags agonisingly conceded – and it was an own goal by Tafazolli.
Davies curled in a wicked corner from the right and Tafazolli, facing his own goal made contact but could do little other then watch it fly past Shearer.
In added time more Portsmouth pressure saw Shearer bravely drop at the feet of two opponents just wide of his right post to make sure the sides went in all level at the end of a highly entertaining first half.
Green almost wriggled clear down the centre early in the second half only for Webster and Davies to quickly shut the gate on him.
Then Smith managed to cut inside Pearce from the left only to send a low shot straight to Shearer.
A Stags broke saw Green do well to make space, but with Rose screaming for the ball in space to his left, he played it instead to a heavily marked Dieservuwe and the moment was gone.
On 62 minutes Green looked to be heavily shoved in the box again, but once more no penalty for Stags.
A minute later Blair took over from Kavanagh on the left.
Pompey forced three corners on the trot, Bennett unlucky from the first as his goalbound shot deflected wide, but Stags finally broke and Stevens brought down Dieseruvwe in full flight to earn a booking. From the free kick, Tafazolli headed at goal, but Fulton was there to grab.
On 72 minutes Rose tried his luck with a low shot from over 30 yards which Fulton turned round his post. And from the corner Green’s flicked header was grabbed by Fulton.
A Portsmouth attack ended with a tame shot from Smith straight to Shearer,
On 78 minutes Shearer seemed to fumble a 25 yard blast from Doyle, but saw it round the post for Pompey corner No.10.
Before it could be taken we had to wait for an injured linesman to be replaced by the fourth official.
Thomas replaced Green with 12 minutes to go and quickly found Blair to his left, his low cross just too hard for Dieseruvwe to turn home.
On 86 minutes Daniel was thrown into the fray for Rose. But, despite six added minutes, it ended a point apiece.
STAGS: Shearer, Benning, Rose (Daniel 86), Pearce, Collins (C), Clements, Green (Thomas 78), Tafazolli, Dieseruvwe, Kavanagh (Blair 63), Alfei. Subs not used: Jensen, Chapman, Beardsley, Baxendale.
POMPEY: Fulton, Davies, Stevens, Webster, Burgess, Doyle, McNulty (McGurk 70), Naismith (Chaplin 85), Smith, Bennett (Tollitt 67), Hollands. Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Clarke, Evans.
REFEREE: Carl Boyeston of East Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,980 (1,192 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Krystian Pearce.
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