LOMAS ON STAGS: Depleted Mansfield Town finally chalk up a clean sheet at the 11th attempt
Despite the growing injury list, another silly red card and an eighth game without a win, Mansfield Town left Leyton Orient on Saturday with a cherished first clean sheet of the season to savour.
Away to a side second in the league, Nigel Clough and his depleted squad were really up against it.
That task was made harder when young sub Tyrese Sinclair was rightly red-carded for kicking out at Archibald on 85 minutes.
But Stags stuck to their guns and, with keeper Nathan Bishop pulling off a crucial stoppage time save, finally chalked up a clean sheet at the 11th attempt.
Clough had naturally been reluctant to pull the towering Oli Hawkins back into the centre of defence with him doing so well up front.
But needs must and the current lack of fit defenders saw Hawkins brought back to partner Farrend Rawson to good effect.
Mansfield created very little without him at the other end on the day, Rawson coming the closest when he forced a save after re-directing a half clearance back at goal.
Ex-Orient goal ace Danny Johnson was restored to the side at his old club but had a frustrating afternoon with not a single sniff of a chance.
However, with the home side launching the ball into the Mansfield box at every opportunity, the day was about defending and defending properly and Mansfield did just that.
Bishop made some fine saves in his man of the match performance, though he must work on his kicking which was often astray on Saturday.
His team mates also came up with some crucial blocks and Stags deserved their moment of luck when the O's hit a post on the 90th minute.
With Sinclair gone and seven minutes added on it was a nervous, pressurised end, but Clough's men got what they deserved on the day, backed and lifted by a noisy away following.
Sinclair has since apologised for his dismissal and will hopefully learn from the incident, but with numbers limited right now he has thrown away a great chance to press a claim and show what he can do.
Mansfield will now be hoping George Maris will be fit to face Barrow this Saturday after a bang in the face caused his eye to close up.
With seven players already unavailable through injury and suspension, the squad is getting thoroughly stretched and to say Harry Charsley, at 24, was the most experienced player on a very young bench on Saturday underlines the current situation.
Having finally chalked up that elusive clean sheet, Stags will now target an overdue victory that would haul them level on 12 points with visiting Barrow this Saturday.