Saturday, 19th October 2013: Torquay United 0, Mansfield Town 0

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Mansfield Town had to settle for a point at struggling 10-men Torquay United this afternoon.

Ex-Notts County defender Krystian Pearce was sent-off for his second bookable offence of the game on 69 minutes, but Mansfield were unable to push that advantage home against a side that had just lost five of their previous six outings.

Overall it was a poor game, spoiled by a strong swirling wind and some fussy refereeing from Mick Russell.

Torquay had the best of the first half as Stags struggled to get out of their half with the wind in their face, and the Gulls did hit the post.

But they failed to cause too many problems for Alan Marriott in the Mansfield goal.

The Stags had a better second half but the result was probably a fair one in the end, and a point from Plainmoor is never anything to be sniffed at.

Mansfield didn’t have the best of starts to the day after discovering they had forgotten their kit.

The Gulls offered to lend them their away kit if the Mansfield one didn’t arrive, but the club managed to speed it down to Devon in time for kick-off.

Mansfield made three changes to the side.

Matt Rhead replaced Calvin Andrew up front, Jamie McGuire returned from a one game suspension to replace Anthony Howell in midfield, and James Jennings took over from Junior Daniel.

Jack Blake, signed on a month’s loan from Forest this morning, had to be content with a place on the bench and didn’t get on in the end.

Murtagh’s handball conceded a free kick in the centre circle in the opening minute which was hit long and drifted wide off the head of Pearce.

Otherwise the opening 10 minutes were largely uneventful with Rhead winning everything in the air up front for Mansfield but no one able to capitalise.

Riley headed a far post Nicholson free kick for the first corner on 13 minutes which was overhit and drifted harmlessly for a throw.

A minute later Stags allowed a long ball into the box to bounce around dangerously and Hawley was able to cue up Mansell for a shot that Jennings got in the way of to concede another corner.

Stags survived that and won a corner of their own on the left on 16 minutes from which they should have gone in front.

No one picked up Dempster as Jennings’ flag kick came over, but his free header went wide of goal from 10 yards.

After Pearce had been booked for a foul, Bodin then came so close to drawing first blood for the home side as he sidestepped Sutton just inside the box and fired a low shot that hit the foot of the right hand post and skewered away across the face of goal to safety.

Two minutes later Chapell’s ball in from the right saw Hawley lift the ball over the angle with a first time half-volley.

Hawley won the Gulls a free kick 20 yards from goal and Bodin saw his kick fly well over the goal.

Bodin was closer a minute later with a superb volley that took a deflection for the home side’s third corner.

Little else of note happened until the 37th minute when Azeez’s 25-yard effort took a slight deflection but Marriott kept his eyes on it and was well placed for a comfortable catch.

McCourt was booked for a dive two minutes later as he went down under Stevenson’s challenge.

Riley headed wide from a Jennings free kick for the visitors as we entered the last five minutes of a poor first half.

An extra minute was added but the referee, clearly agreeing with the crowd over the quality of the fare on offer, decided to blow a few seconds early.

Within two minutes of the restart, Marriott had to make a smart save, getting down and sticking out a hand to block a low Azeez finish almost on the line after a Chappell mis-kick had seen the ball veer towards the home striker.

Chapell then went down in the box and he and the home fans behind the goal screamed for a penalty unsuccessfully.

Mansfield produced their first on-target effort of the game on 49 minutes.

McGuire sent in a cross from the right which saw Rhead do really well to stoop and manage to get power and direction onto a header that Rice had to save.

Hawley was the next to call for a penalty on 54 minutes as he went down shoulder to shoulder with Riley in the box, again the referee unimpressed.

Hutchinson replaced Stevenson in the 56th minute for the visitors.

A long Marriott clearance sailed all the way downfield for Clucas to run onto, but he was unable to get any power on his finish as Nicholson challenged him.

Clucas’ persistence earned Stags their third corner of the afternoon which Jennings swung in and saw it pass right across the face of goal with no one able to turn it home.

Andrew joined the Stags’ forward line in place of Rhead on 63 minutes.

Riley slipped as he tried to halt Azeez’s run into the box from the right and was relieved to see the striker pull a low, tame shot into the sidenetting.

At the other end Andrew set up a shooting chance for Hutchinson which was powerful and on-target and the home side were glad Pearce managed to get his body in the way.

Torquay broke well from that and Sutton took a booking with a cynical trip on Azeez.

That conceded a 68th minute free kick, fully 30 yards from the Mansfield goal, which Nicholson dipped over the wall and inches over the bar.

The home side were reduced to 10 men on 69 minutes as Pearce, already booked, hauled down Clucas as he tried to turn away from him and go clear on goal.

When the free kick was taken, Hutchinson played a cheeky short ball to his right where McGuire sidefooted a first time shot at goal that caught on the wind and flew over.

Stags began to pile on the pressure and the Gulls survived an almighty scramble with everyone swinging a foot at the ball six yards from goal after Rice failed to grab a cross from the right.

Stags went for broke and sent on Palmer for Sutton.

Soon after Hutchinson forced Rice to beat away a stinging 30 yard blast on the run.

A Beevers cross from the right touchline again somehow passed through everyone, but caught a Torquay player en route to give Mansfield another corner.

That reached Dempster at the far post where he was unable to get any direction on his header.

Clucas was also wide with his header from a Hutchinson cross as Mansfield tried to make their man advantage count.

Riley was upset when he felt Azeez had shoved him in the back as he shepherded the ball out to give away a corner. But Marriott was safely there to make the catch.

Palmer almost unlocked the home defence when he flicked the ball to Andrew and then went for the return, O’Connor coming up with a crucial tackle in the box which left him down hurt for a time.

In the 90th minute Stags won a corner on the right which found Dempster at the far post where the angle was far too tight to make his header trouble Rice.

Into stoppage time, Craig sent a free kick from wide on the right just over the far angle after which there were some ‘handbags’ following a clash between Beevers and Benyon in which Beevers claimed he had been bitten on the arm by his opponent

Palmer won another corner in the final minute of stoppage time, but the ball was cleared and both sides had to settle for the draw.

TORQUAY UNITED: Rice, Tongue, Nicholson, Pearce, Mansell, Hawley (Benyon 81), Bodin (Cruise 70), Chapell (Craig 63), McCourt, Azeez, O’Connor. Subs not used: Lathrope, Cameron, Sullivan, Lavercombe.

STAGS: Marriott, Sutton (Palmer 73), Dempster, Riley; Beevers, McGuire, Stevenson (Hutchinson 56), Murtagh, Jennings; Rhead (Andrew 63), Clucas. Subs not used: Daniel, Howell, Meikle, Blake.

REFEREE: Mick Russell of Hertfordshire.

ATTENDANCE: 2,473 (347 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: John Dempster.