Mansfield Town 0-0 Sheffield United - Stags stand up to Championship test
Mansfield Town again shone against Championship opposition with a richly-deserved 0-0 home draw against a quality Sheffield United side in their latest pre-season friendly.
The Stags had shot down Derby County 3-1 in midweek and, although they couldn’t find the net today, they again impressed with some disciplined defending against the likes of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick while posing plenty of problems for the Blades at the other end.
In the end two magnificent saves from Conrad Logan ensured United also went home goalless while Sharp had an effort disallowed for offside early in the second half.
Both sides played attractive passing football and Stags fans must be delighted with the rich promise this squad is already showing with the new season now just two weeks away.
Stags made two changes from the starting XI that beat Derby County in midweek with CJ Hamilton and Jacob Mellis replacing Will Atkinson and Alex MacDonald.
The Blades had Irish international David McGoldrick in the side as he continued his trial with the club.
But their new club record signing, defender John Egan, began the day on the bench and did not get on the field in the end.
Mellis had a shot blocked on the edge of the box after a powerful burst of pace by Hamilton down the right in the opening minute.
But it was Logan who was called on to make the first save on six minutes – and what a save it was.
Basham got to the right by-line and crossed for McGoldrick who, from point blank range, turned the ball on target only to see Logan make a brilliant one-handed reaction save.
Davies was only just too high with a header from Benning’s 13th minute cross as Stags continued to prove a match for the Championship visitors.
There was then huge applause for Benning’s crucial sliding tackle on the edge of the box as McGoldrick was shaping to shoot.
On 24 minutes Khan was narrowly wide with a low 20-yard shot after Davies had held the ball up well and spotted his run.
Logan almost gifted United a goal on 31 minutes as his poor pass out towards Benning was cut out by Sharp, who suddenly had the goal at his mercy but somehow managed to fire wide from 12 yards.
On 35 minutes it took a superb sliding block from Basham to deny Davies after an inch-perfect through ball from Mellis sent him into the box. The striker superbly beat two men before Basham thwarted him.
Two minutes later Mellis pounced on a slip by McGoldrick to again send Davies on his way and this time it was Stearman who came up with the last ditch block.
Three minutes from the break Logan had another save to make when no one picked up Duffy just outside the box, the keeper turning his shot round the post one handed, diving to his right.
The half ended goalless but both sides earned warm applause for an entertaining 45 minutes in which Mansfield had enjoyed as much good approach play as the Blades.
Stags sent on Angol for Walker and MacDonald for Bishop for the second half.
Two minutes into the half United had the ball in the net only to have it disallowed.
Logan was down to parry a fierce shot by Stevens, but Sharp was caught offside as he rolled the loose ball into the empty net.
Logan was then safely behind an 18-yard Evans free kick that was fired straight at him.
United made five changes on 61 minutes while Stags threw on Butcher and Sterling-James for Mellis and Khan.
Basham was too high with a volley as he met a half-clearance from the head of White.
The new-look United began to enjoy a spell of possession and Lundstram wasn’t too far over with a rising shot from distance on 69 minutes.
Holmes should have done better from their next raid with a curling first time shot over the bar from 12 yards after Baldock had brought down a Stevens cross.
On 73 minutes the excellent Logan was replaced in goal by Olejnik and Atkinson took over Benning’s wing back role.
Youngster Graham, who had scored against Derby in midweek, was given the last 11 minutes in place of the hard-working Davies and, a minute later, another youngster, Gibbens, replaced Pearce at the back.
A minute from time home defenders got in each other’s way in trying to head clear a cross and Leonard stabbed a first time effort over the near angle, which proved to be the final chance to win the game.
STAGS: Logan (Olejnik 73), White, Benning (Atkinson 73) , Preston, Pearce (Gibbens 82), Bishop (MacDonald HT), Mellis (Butcher 61), Hamilton, Khan (Sterling-James 61), Walker (Angol HT), Davies (Graham 79). Subs not used: Anderson, Digby.
BLADES: Henderson, Freeman (Leonard 61), Basham, Stearman, O’Connell, Stevens, Evans (Lundstram 61), Fleck (Baldock 61), Duffy (Lavery 81), McGoldrick (Holmes 61), Sharp (Clark 61). Subs not used: Moore, Egan, Norrington-Davies.
REFEREE: Mark Heywood of Cheshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,271 (1,433 away).