Mansfield Town earned a point in a 0-0 draw at Hartlepool United on Saturday with a hard-working performance.
The first half was low on entertainment, with the Stags creating nothing going forward, but some good defending limiting Hartlepool to two or three chances despite some good wingplay from former Stag Nathan Thomas.
Mansfield made a change at the break bringing on new signing Oscar Gobern in midfield.
Gobern was a free agent after leaving QPR following injury and previously played 70 times for Huddersfield. He has good pedigree having come through the Southampton academy where he knew Ryan Tafazolli, and he has signed for the Stags until January.
He impressed enough with some good skills and class to suggest he could become an important player for Mansfield. One piece of skill on the touchline was wonderful to watch. He will though need to time to get more match sharpness after having been out of the game for about a year.
The second half was much more entertaining and both sides could have won the game.
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Match report: Hartlepool United 0 Mansfield Town 0
Hartlepool had a goal disallowed early in the second half when Nathan Thomas knocked the ball in following a corner, but the offside flag was up early. At the time it was hard to judge if it was the correct call by the officials, but studying it again on video, Thomas was indeed in an offside position as Donnelly headed goalwards from the corner, Scott Shearer made a good save to keep it out, then Thomas knocked in the rebound.
One of Mansfield’s best moments of the game came with excellent play from Mal Benning who beat two defenders before bending a right foot shot just wide of the right post.
The two best chances of the game came in a two minute spell in the last 20 minutes. Firstly brilliant play from Nathan Thomas, surging forward from the halfway line and laying a perfect ball into the path of Billy Paynter, who lifted his shot over Shearer and over the bar.
Then at the other end, Mitch Rose slid a brilliant ball forward into the path of Matt Green in the area to give him a one-on-one with Hartlepool keeper Trevor Carson and I expected the net to bulge but Carson made himself big and blocked Green’s shot with his left leg.
It was a great save to deny Green, who was so close to getting Mansfield’s first goal for three games.
The news after the game that Green is about to sign an extended contract is great news for the club.
It was not the best game overall, though the second half was more entertaining than the first, but a good point for sure.
Some fine performances, notably from Alex Iacovitti, rock solid in central defence, Bennett and Benning at full back, and Collins and McGuire in front of the back four.
The Stags are up one place to ninth place, one point outside the play-offs, ahead of the game against Grimsby on Saturday in what will surely be a pulsating atmosphere.