Stags end friendlies with 0-0 draw against Walsall

Sascha Studer.
Sascha Studer.

Mansfield Town ended their pre-season friendlies schedule with a 0-0 home draw with an impressive League One Walsall this afternoon.

The visitors had more of the ball over the 90 minutes and asked plenty of questions with Stags’ Sascha Studer the busier of the keepers in a game of few chances.

But Mansfield can be satisfied to complete a tough pre-season schedule with just one defeat by Aston Villa.

This was also a third clean sheet in four unbeaten games.

There was also the bonus of seeing Sam Clucas return from injury to complete the whole of the second half.

But defender Ritchie Sutton did limp off with a knock on 57 minutes and Stags will wait anxiously for news of what his injury is.

An early Saddlers free kick from the left was headed into the air by Tafazolli and safely clutched on his line by Studer.

Henry then showed good pace down the left before pulling back a neat low pass that saw Webber turn and stab a low finish at Studer.

Baxendale was well wide with a 25-yard effort on eight minutes as the visitors made the early running.

Webber was much more accurate a minute later as he cut in from the right and sent a low left foot shot straight at Studer, the keeper needing two bites of the cherry to hold onto it.

Within a few seconds, Walsall keeper O’Donnell had his first save to make as Hearn turned 18 yards out and sent in a powerful low shot that the keeper had to parry to his left.

On 21 minutes Bradshaw reached a long Sawyers cross from the left to the far post but could only turn it into the sidenetting.

A cutting through ball from Heslop put Fisher into space, but Holden did well to cut out his first time low cross intended for the unmarked Hearn.

On 26 minutes Studer beat away a fierce 18-yard drive by Baxendale after he had been allowed time to find space for the shot on the edge of the box.

Fisher was then too high with a 30 yard free kick for the Stags as we reached the half-hour mark without a goal.

Studer had another good save to make on 35 minutes after Sutton allowed Morris to turn him right in front of goal and get away a rising finish that the Swiss keeper did well to turn over for the first of two successive corners.

From the second Sawyers lashed a shot well wide, but it raised a cheer as it found the net in the goal behind the floodlight!

Hearn was too high with a half-volley from the edge of the box five minutes from the break.

Then Tafazolli was also too high with his header from Clements’ left wing corner.

Taylor’s persistence won Mansfield a fourth corner which came to nothing, Stags also having to defend a corner before the referee brought a scoreless half to a halt.

Stags made three changes for the second half with Hearn, Clements and Marsden withdrawn and Palmer, Clucas and Beevers on.

Kinsella fired the first goal attempt of the half over the top as the visitors resumed their first half pressure.

The Saddlers came very close on 49 minutes as Henry twisted and turned on the left before zipping in an inviting cross that Morris crashedf first time over the top.

Two minutes later Webber cut inside Sutton and got away an on-target attempts that Studer pushed away, diving to his left.

Having just got Clucas back from injury, Stags lost Sutton on 57 minutes as he stayed down for treatment, eventually to be replaced by Dempster.

Beevers did well to win a 50-050 challenge to halt a possible Walsall break, the ball broke to Heslop whose finish skewed wide

Studer was down smartly to his left to clutch onto a low curling Grimes effort.

On 77 minutes Clifford threaded Manset into the left of the box, but with Tafazolli alongside him and Studer advancing, he curled the finish wide of the near post.

With three minutes to go Taylor dragged a low effort wide in a game that had long since lost any fizz it had with the continual substitutions.

Fergus Bell was well over from distance as we neared the end.

Studer left his box to bring down an opponent and offer Walsall a stoppage time free kick, which was deflected for a corner, from which James Chambers headed the final chance over.

STAGS: Studer; Sutton (Dempster 57), Tafazolli, Riley; Marsden (Beevers HT), Murray, Heslop (McGuire 68), Clements (Clucas HT), Taylor (A. Bell 66); Hearn (Palmer HT), Fisher (F. Bell 61). Subs not used: Rhead, Thomas.

WALSALL: O’Donnell, O’Connor (Kinsella 32, Bakayoko 84), Holden, Downing (A. Chambers 78), Bradshaw (Grimes 69), Sawyers (A. Chambers 69), Baxendale (Clifford 61), Webber (Manset 61), Flanagan (Heath 78), Morris (Benning 69), Henry (Taylor 69). Subs not used: MacGillivray.

REFEREE: Rob Lewis.

ATTENDANCE: 1,220 (93 away).