OPINION: Signs of improvement as Stags draw a blank

Mansfield Town v Colchester United.'Danny Rose who came on as a sub in the second half.
Mansfield Town v Colchester United.'Danny Rose who came on as a sub in the second half.

Mansfield Town drew a blank in front of goal on Saturday against Colchester United, in a 0-0 draw.

The Stags have failed to score at home in the first half of a game this season in 14 attempts in League and cup, which tells its own story of the season so far.

However, there are signs that things are improving under new manager Steve Evans.

Despite Saturday’s failure to score, Mansfield have scored nine goals in the first five games of the Evans era.

Danny Rose has scored three of those, from the bench, and looks rejuvenated.

His last gasp winner against Blackpool was critical, and his winner at Carlisle in the Checkatrade Trophy was a fantastic strike, into the top corner from distance and worthy of winning any game.

He didn’t start the game against Colchester as Evans said he wasn’t match fit to play more than 50-60 minutes, but that match fitness will come very soon, through playing games.

He did come on as substitute and was involved in a bit of controversy with almost the last kick of the game.

Rose played a one-two with Matt Green and went down on the edge of the box.

With the naked eye it looked like it might be a penalty but the referee gave a free kick against Rose and booked him for diving.

From review of the video footage, the referee got the decision right, it was a dive (and it was just outside the area anyway).

The best chance against Colchester fell to Matt Green early in the game, when a free kick ricocheted off two defenders into his path, unmarked and with only the keeper to beat from nine yards, but he surprisingly shot wide of the left post.

Green looked aghast to have missed it but all strikers miss chances and Green is no different.

He has nine goals this season, and if he continues at this rate is on target for 20 goals for the campaign.

After the game Steve Evans confirmed that he’s looking to bring in ‘three or four’ players in the January transfer window though wouldn’t elaborate on which positions.

I’d be surprised if a winger is not on his shopping list. Whilst CJ Hamilton had an improved game on Saturday, overall the quality from Mansfield’s wingers hasn’t been good enough this season.

However Evans is still assessing his squad, and he is probably considering players for every position.

The Stags are four points outside the play-offs and move on to Exeter on Saturday, a team who bizarrely have just two points from nine home games and without a win, yet have 21 points from 11 away games.

Saturday’s attendance was boosted by a superb offer for families of £11 for parent and child in the West Stand Lower Tier.

The number of home fans was 250 up on the Crawley game and nearly 600 up on the midweek Blackpool game.

The Crawley attendance itself of course was increased by being the first game under Steve Evans.

So all in all, and given that the last home game before Christmas traditionally has a lower crowd, the attendance wasn’t bad. Well done to John and Carolyn Radford for the offer.

The big scoreboard, purchased from Wembley a couple of years ago, finally made its debut, showing the time, occasionally the score, and the teams before the game with photos of the players.

By the end of each half, the time was 30 seconds out (eg registering 44 minutes 30 seconds when it should have been registering 45 minutes), a problem which has to be ironed out before the next game, or the time not shown at all.

It even caused confusion for the fourth official, who waited until the scoreboard reached 45 minutes before putting the board up for stoppage time.