Mansfield Town survived some worrying moments to preserve their unbeaten home record against a highly impressive Plymouth Argyle in a 0-0 draw this afternoon.
The Pilgrims had won three of their four away League games and sat third so were always going to provide a stiff test.
They created most of the best chances with Brain Jensen winning a personal duel with Graham Carey, denying him three times.
In front of Jensen, Krystian Pearce and Ryan Tafazolli were simply outstanding.
Mitch Rose did force a good save from Luke McCormick after the break, but Stags will be happy to have come out of this one with a clean sheet and undefeated.
The Stags started well enough but were rattled after Reuben Reid smashed a brilliant volley against the bar on five minutes after which the Pilgrims dominated the game and missed a couple of other golden chances, Ryan Brunt heading wide and Graham carey denied by Brian Jensen from close range.
However, Stags survived and twice went close themselves late in the half after playing their way back into the contest.
After the break Jensen twice denied Carey from free kicks while McCormick had to make a good stop to keep out Mitch Rose when he was put in on goal. But no one was able to make the breakthrough.
Lee Collins was made Mansfield captain as he came in for his full League debut for the club, having a tough first half but growing into the game in the second.
Collins replaced right back and skipper Nicky Hunt, who was serving a one-game ban.
The only other change came in central midfield where Jack Thomas replaced the injured Chris Clements.
There was a welcome return on the bench of goalkeeper Scott Shearer, fit again after the nasty infection he picked up in the first week of the season that left him hospitalised.
Stags began the game well and drew applause from the stands for some neat possession football.
But Argyle won a fifth minute corner from which they almost went ahead. Jack Thomas headed the first ball in away and then got a block in on a follow-up shot. But when Hartley launched a long cross over from the left, Reid shaped up for a superb 15 yard volley that zipped over Jensen and came back off the crossbar.
Argyle came close again on 15 minutes as Collins stretched to clear and succeeded only in giving the ball to Carey on the left of the six yard box, Jensen getting down well to block his finish and spare his skipper’s blushes.
Four minutes later Sawyer crossed to the near post where Brunt should have scored, his close range header bouncing just wide of the target.
It was all Plymouth at this stage, Stags’ promising start rocked by that shot against their bar and the visitors clearly lifted.
Mansfield survived and finally began to get the ball into the visitors’ box, Nathan Thomas inches away from a goal on 37 minutes after Green had rescued a ball that looked set to go out for a goalkick and set him up for a fierce low shot across the face of goal from a tight angle on the left.
In the one added minute Westcarr flashed a shot narrowly wide from 25 yards as the sides went in all square.
Plymouth were first to threaten after the break as Carey went for goal from a free kick just outside the box on the right. He whipped it in hard and low, but Jensen was down at his near post to block.
A minute later Green got Stags’ first on-target effort away as he fired one from 20 yards straight at McCormick.
Soon after Jervis floated in a long cross from the right that bounced off the top of the bar at the far angle.
On 55 minutes Carey was again denied by Jensen, this time trying to bend in a cheeky free kick from almost on the by-line on the right, Jensen alert to block.
After a lull in the action Stags were almost ahead on 64 minutes.
Chapman’s pass slipped Rose in on goal and McCormick did well to keep out his powerful finish.
Then we quickly had chances at both ends as Carey whipped a low shot wide from a great position, then Green latched onto a poor touch by Hartley, but saw his attempted chip end up in the side netting.
Blair was given warm applause when he took over from Nathan Thomas with 12 minutes to go.
Rose was booked for a foul on Mellor on 80 minutes and Carey saw his free kick brush the top of the netting as it flashed over.
STAGS: Jensen, Benning, Rose, Pearce, Collins, Chapman, Green, Westcarr (Yussuf 52), Nathan Thomas (Blair 78), Tafazolli, Jack Thomas (Lambe 57). Subs not used: Shearer, Marsden, McGuire, Fitzpatrick.
PLYMOUTH: McCormick, Mellor, Sawyer, Nelson, Hartley, Simpson, Reid (Tanner 65), Carey (Threlkeld 87), Jervis (Wylde 72), Brunt, Boateng. Subs not used: C. Harvey, Cox, T. Harvey, Purrington.
REFEREE: Mark Brown of East Yorkshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,185 (463 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Krystian Pearce.
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