New Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans was given more food for thought on Saturday as the Stags were held 0-0 at home by Colchester United.
There was much to be pleased with as Mansfield kept a clean sheet against a side that had won 4-0 and 3-0 in their last two games, and fans took up the club’s special ticket offer to provide a bumper crowd on a traditionally poorly-attended Saturday just before Christmas.
But defences were very much on top and, although the Stags dominated possession, it was the right result at the end of a tight, forgettable match.
Click HERE to see video highlights of the match
Click HERE to read the match report
Click HERE to read Steve Evans’ post-match thoughts
Click HERE to read Mal Benning’s thoughts on the pressure players are under
Evans has said he wants to bring in three or four new players to pep up the side in January, so players are all looking over their shoulders this month, adding to the pressure of trying to stay with the pack hunting top seven play-off places.
Essentially they now have three more games to prove their worth to him, though Evans will learn plenty about them in training on a daily basis too as he decides where he needs to strengthen.
It was ironic Saturday’s game ended 0-0 on an afternoon when the long-awaited switch-on of the old Wembley scoreboard finally happened.
Indeed, it caused fans and officials a few problems after its stopwatch function decided to lose time as the halves went on.
It would be nice to see the home team score move off zero in a first half soon as Saturday was the 14th home game of the season and, amazingly, the Stags are yet to notch a first half home goal.
Matt Green should have ended that unwanted run with a 12th minute chance from a kind ricochet, but pulled it wide from eight yards.
He did force a low save from Sam Walker after the break and also headed over from a Lee Collins cross, but United defended solidly and the home side rarely looked capable of opening them up.
Encouragingly, still with defenders out injured, Mansfield coped admirably with a Colchester side that had just scored seven in two games, Shearer only stretched once to keep out a low Owen Garvan shot just before the break.
Tom Eastman did see a header from the tightest of angles drop onto the home crossbar in the 90th minute for a late scare.
And in stoppage time sub Danny Rose screamed for a penalty, but was rightly booked for a dive.
Evans went with just Green up front with three attacking midfielders behind him, but James Baxendale and CJ Hamilton rarely managed to get behind the United defence while Hemmings, playing just behind Green, only had one goal attempt of note.
Jamie McGuire gave his typical full-blooded battling 90 minutes, but Chris Clements alongside him was unable to perform to his usual levels and unpick the Colchester lock.
However, this was just the sort of game that Stags have lost 1-0 in front of the bigger crowd in the past and we know this side is not the finished article as yet.
So fans were happy to stay patient and back their side rather than dish out the boos and abuse that marred some of the home games under Adam Murray.
With his experience and contacts book, those fans will now be hoping for some exciting post-Christmas presents from Evans and the prospect of a thrilling 2017 to keep them cheering.