Following the ridiculous capitulation in midweek as the Stags lost to Leyton Orient, Mansfield Town needed a big reaction to spark this stuttering season into life – a 0-0 draw against struggling Stevenage hardly suggests we saw the reaction we wanted, or – does it?
On paper you’d say no, but when you factor in the fact John Dempster’s men were extremely thin on the ground with numbers due to injuries, you’d probably say yes.
I have to admit that walking away from the One Call Stadium, I did so with a massive weight of disappointment and frustration hanging over me as given the number of chances created by the Stags, three points should have been ours.
Yet on reflection, you have to give immense credit to Stevenage who defended for their lives and pulled off some unbelievable blocks, whilst Paul Farman in the Stevenage goal also made a string of incredible saves.
John Dempster rues missed chances
Mansfield Town 0 Steveneage 0 - match gallery
Also whilst we’re on the subject of defending well, you’ve got to praise the Stags who so far this season, apart from Carlisle away, have been weak at best at the back – so to keep a clean sheet and reduce the visitors to just one clear cut effort, saved well by Logan, is certainly a step in the right direction.
Mansfield were without several key players and were pretty short across the pitch, missing Pearce, White and Gordon from the back, Bishop from midfield and both new strikers Cook and Maynard – meaning the bench was made up entirely of young players with the exception of Sterling-James, although to be fair he’s hardly got much Football League experience under his belt either.
With all those big hitter missing, Dempster was forced into a system change as players failed fitness tests prior to kick-off – the line-up including 19 year old James Clarke who made his full Football League debut. Whilst during some stages of the match it felt like square pegs in round holes and looked very disjointed, you have to say the Stags did enough to control the game in their quest for three points.
Many will argue that given Stevenage hadn’t scored all season and had injury problems of their own, it wasn’t a massive thing to achieve and match up to – but given how turbulent, and sometimes toxic, things have been – a 0-0 draw on reflection now is a positive.
The games however come thick and fast and with the Stags already thread bare any more injuries or suspensions could prove the straw that broke the camels back, and whilst we don’t need numbers of the sake of numbers, we perhaps need one or two more experienced reinforcements to come in and bolster the ranks to kick-start our campaign – especially in midfield and up front.
Ending on a positive, whilst Dempster was forced into naming a young bench – it’s good to see them given the opportunity to shine which will undoubtedly happen further on Tuesday evening as the Stags welcome Everton U23s in the Leaasing.com trophy (EFL Trophy) for the first group stage game.
Let’s get behind them and pull together in the face of adversity – because if we do, getting through to the other side and reaping the rewards will be more special, and certainly more deserved.