Saturday, 22nd August 2015: Mansfield Town 1 Oxford United 1

Craig Westcarr Mansfield Town
Craig Westcarr Mansfield Town

Despite taking a third minute lead, Mansfield Town then missed a penalty and were eventually pegged back for a 1-1 home draw with Oxford United this afternoon.

It had all begun so brightly for the Stags against one of the fancied teams in the division as Craig Westcarr marked his full debut with a goal after only three minutes.

Matt Green should have doubled that lead after eight minutes when Stags were awarded their first penalty kick in 86 games, but blasted it again the crossbar.

After half-an-hour United came into the game strongly and it took a good save from Brian Jensen and the woodwork to keep Mansfield ahead.

However, Oxford were level from the spot on 59 minutes through Kemar Roofe, though Stags were furious with the decision.

In the end the visitors looked the more likely to win it with Stags rarely threatening after the break.

Mansfield welcomed back goal ace Green to the side. He missed the midweek defeat at Accrington Stanley with a stiff back, but returned today at the expense of Chris Beardsley.

The other change saw Westcarr come into midfield for a full debut in place of Nathan Thomas.

Defender Lee Collins had shaken off a foot injury and was included on the bench.

Stags made the perfect start as they took the lead after only three minutes.

Tafazolli flicked on a long Chapman throw from the left. It was half-cleared to the edge of the box where Westcarr smashed a powerful half-volley through everyone and past Slocombe.

It should have been 2-0 in eight minutes as Stags were awarded a long overdue penalty kick.

Rose won it with his never-say-die attitude, chasing the ball to the by-line and beating keeper Slocombe to it, the keeper bringing him down wide of goal to the left.

Green smashed the penalty with real venom down the centre, but, agonisingly, it bounced down off the underside of the bar, came out and was hooked clear.

Oxford tried to force their way into the game and Hylton was well over with a hopeful shot, then found his burst forward halted by great defending by Tafazolli.

Soon after Baldock was closer with a dipping shot from the edge of the box that flew over the bar.

On 20 minutes Hunt had to hook the ball clear from right in front of goal as Hylton turned Pearce on the right by-line and drilled the ball low into the danger area.

But Green showed all his old pace and power on 23 minutes as he raced away down the right onto a long Clements pass and managed to test Slocombe with a low right-foot shot that the keeper had to save.

After 38 minutes Jensen had not been tested. But the experienced keeper was there on 38 minutes with a superb tip-over save high to his right from a Roofe free kick after Rose had brought him down in a central position, being booked for his troubles.

Hunt followed him into the book two minutes later for his foul on O’Dowda.

Oxford came even closer on 42 minutes when the referee awarded a highly debatable free kick against Pearce just outside the box, this time the ball laid short to MacDonald for a low shot that came off the base of the right post.

In stoppage time an ambitious Chapman went for goal from his own half. Intercepting a sloppy pass, he looked up and hoisted the ball long and hard and not too far wide of the goal with Slocombe helpless, drawing warm applause from the stands.

The whistle brought to an end a thoroughly entertaining half played at a tempo in stifling temperatures.

Stags began the second half well, but Rose was starting to wilt a little in the heat and had already been booked, so Murray injected new life into his midfield on 55 minutes as Jack Thomas came on to replace him.

But United were gifted a way back into the game on 59 minutes with a dubious penalty.

Lambe seemed to get the ball first before his collision with O’Dowda. But the referee pointed to the spot and Roofe calmly sent Jensen the wrong way to find the bottom right corner.

Murray was furious with the decision and was lectured by the referee before the game restarted.

At this point, the bright sunshine had given way to black clouds and heavy rain.

Nathan Thomas came on to replace Lambe on 67 minutes and five minutes later Hunt, clearly struggling, was replaced by Collins at right back.

A great run from Hylton into the box on 82 minutes saw Jensen down to his right to make the save.

Benning and Baldock were booked in the six added minutes after a spot of wrestling, but there was no be no late hero.

STAGS: Jensen, Benning, M. Rose (Jack Thomas 55), Pearce, Chapman, Clements, Green, Westcarr, Tafazolli, Hunt (Collins 72), Lambe (Nathan Thomas 67). Subs not used: Marsden, Beardsley, Yussuf, McGuire.
OXFORD: Slocombe, Baldock, Skarz, Roofe, Mullins, Wright, D. Rose, Sercombe, Hylton (Hoban 88), MacDonald (Taylor HT), O’Dowda (Ruffels 81). Subs not used: Lundstram, Crocombe, Long, Dunkley.

REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire.

ATTENDANCE: 3,112 (547 away).