STAGS HELD IN GOALLESS DRAW
Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Chester City
Attendance: 3437 (314 from Chester)
The Stags failed to win yet again, despite having plenty of possession against lowly Chester at Field Mill this evening.
The Stags' last 5 games have been against teams in the bottom half of the table, and we have failed to win any of them.
Football First match report:
By John Lomas
transcribed by carole
Rush's point for survival:
CHESTER boss Ian Rush was delighted with his side's point and clean sheet at Mansfield as they battle on to stay clear of the drop zone.
Mansfield dominated possession but City created the better chances and could have come away with all three points.
Rush said: “The most important thing was that we kept a clean sheet, and we did just that.
“Once we got to grips with their 4-5-1 system, which we sorted out at half-time, I thought we looked organised.
“Although Mansfield had a lot of possession, they couldn't do anything with it. In the second-half, if there was going to be a winner, it was us and we had two good chances.
“The team worked their socks off and you can't ask for anything else.
“Ryan Lowe had an excellent debut for us. He gave us something different and was very unlucky not to score.”
It was a sixth game without victory for this young, inexperienced Mansfield side whose best chance fell to Fraser McLachlan in the first half.
But from close range, his finish was deflected over the crossbar.
Chester keeper Chris MacKenzie was comfortably behind everything else the Stags could throw at him, mostly from long range.
But Mansfield's Kevin Pilkington had to claw a Richard Hope header from under his bar, and also saved Robbie Foy's shot in the first-half. After the break he only kept out Lowe's finish at the second attempt, while Foy blasted wide from a good position after Michael Branch had set him up with a square ball.
The point leaves Mansfield firmly in mid-table, and with little prospect of reaching the play-off's or being dragged into the relegation fight, thoughts are already turning to next season.
Stags boss Carlton Palmer said: “I was very pleased with our overall performance. We passed the ball well and we deserved to win.
“Our final ball could have been better, but that will come.
“When you have as much of the ball as we did and don't score it can be worrying. But sometimes you need a break.
“Chester tried to slow the game down which was very frustrating and the referee did nothing about it.
“These are young lads who are learning and they will get better. If we had Colin Larkin fit we would have won it game, set and match.
“I just wish we could have capped it by scoring a couple of goals for the fans. If we'd have got one we'd have got three or four.”
Mansfield Town………. Chester City
50-----------Possession %---- 50
7------------Shots on Target----4
1------------Shots off Target---3
MANSFIELD TOWN 0 V 0 CHESTER CITY
Evening Post, 26 March 2005
Mansfield Town's young guns followed up their impressive display at Bristol Rovers with another promising showcase of talent last night.
And, after some recent hostility, the home fans decided to give the Stags a break.
With Mansfield out of the play-off reckoning and Chester all but safe in League Two, there was little at stake, but Stags boss Carlton Palmer was keen to take a look at players.
He will have liked a lot of what he saw. And new signing Giles Coke is likely to have made a positive impression on the Stags fans who were getting their first glimpse of him.
Stags, now without a win in six games, were boosted by the return of skipper Alex John-Baptiste - but there was no place in the squad for the injured Colin Larkin.
That left Richie Barker as the lone front man, supported by a five-man midfield.
A bright opening spell featured some cameo moments from Alex Neil, Adam Rundle, Barker and Coke.
But the first chance of the evening saw Chester's Robbie Foy blaze over from 25 yards on eight minutes.
Mansfield's first real chance fell to Scott McNiven in the 16th minute. The full-back unleashed a powerful strike from 30 yards, which forced the visitors' keeper, Chris MacKenzie, to push the effort round for a corner.
Chester's Michael Branch was hoping to add to the four goals he had scored in City's two previous games but it was Mansfield who were posing the bigger attacking threat early on.
Stags should have taken the lead in the 23rd minute. Chester's new signing, Ryan Lowe, was booked for a foul on Fraser McLachlan and Rundle curled a free-kick towards the far post.
It was a quality delivery and only needed a touch for an opening goal, but the ball was allowed to drift wide.
The young Stags were having an impact on the game in the first half and Callum Lloyd lifted the crowd with an exciting burst forward, only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle.
Another good delivery by Rundle, from a free-kick, carved out a good opportunity, but McLachlan's close-range strike was deflected wide.
In the 36th minute, Rundle's cross from the left fell just out of reach of Barker in a good position.
Then a great save by Pilkington kept out Phil Bolland's header a minute later and, on 43 minutes, he blocked a fierce strike by Foy after McNiven had given the ball away.
Chester finished the first half strongly and Lowe curled a shot wide.
Stags almost got off to a great start after the break when Neil burst forward from midfield only to fire wide of the far upright.
Neil went close again, following McNiven's free-kick and a McNiven shot was held soon after.
A Mansfield goal looked on the cards on 56 minutes when the ball dropped on Barker's head, but he steered it agonisingly wide of the far corner.
Pilkington had to save at the second attempt to keep out Lowe's strike, then McLachlan's low drive was held by MacKenzie.
Foy was just wide at the other end, before McLachlan was foiled again.
Palmer made a late tactical switch, with Luke Dimech replacing Rundle.
The Maltese international slotted in at right-back, with Neil pushing into midfield.
MATCH STATS (STAGS/CHESTER):
8 Goal Attempts 7
7 On Target 4
1 Off Target 3
0 Hit Woodwork 0
1 Offsides 10
6 Corners 3
11 Fouls 17
Report from Footymad
Chester clung on for a precious point in their bid for Football League survival as Mansfield's amazing home goal drought continued.
And City almost grabbed their second win in a week 13 minutes from time when Michael Branch put Robbie Foy clear, but with the goal at his mercy the Chester striker fired wide.
Mansfield, without a win in six games, have now scored just eight goals in 14 home games and after an encouraging first half faded badly.
The Stags, minus five injured first-team players, created the first chance in an open start when Richie Barker shot wide after good work by home debutant Giles Coke, before Scott McNiven's piledriver was palmed to safety by the diving Chris McKenzie.
In the 23rd minute a curling free-kick from Adam Rundle just evaded three strikers as the home side failed to turn their superiority into goals.
On the half-hour, as the rampant Stags again penned Chester in their own half, it needed a last-ditch tackle by Phil Bolland to deny Fraser McLachlan a goal.
McLachlan found himself unmarked in the six-yard area on the end of another dangerous Rundle cross, but his point-blank drive was somehow deflected over by the lunging Bolland.
City finally tested home keeper Kevin Pilkington eight minutes before half-time when Richard Hope's header from an Andy Nicholas long throw was tipped to safety from under the bar.
Then Foy's fierce shot was beaten away by the keeper after a McNiven error.
Another poor defensive mistake, this time by Jake Buxton, gifted Ryan Lowe another opportunity on the hour. However, Pilkington again came to Mansfield's rescue with a fine save at the second attempt.
Fifteen minutes later Foy drilled that golden late opportunity wide as City carved out the better second half chances on the break.
report from http://www.chestercityfc.net:
The First half started fairly quietly but it wasn't long before Mansfield started to get the upper hand. Slowly but surely they exerted their authority on the game, but with neither side showing real flair in front of goal it was hard to see where a goal would come from. Chester continued to have a tough time until the final 10 minutes of the half. A brief spell of flowing football could have seen the Blues taking an unexpected lead moments before half time.
In the second half, it was Mansfield who came out of the starting blocks strongest. Both sides had much better chances at goal than during the first half, and a goal-fest looked to be on the cards for a while. As Chester clawed their way back into the half though the goals could have come at both ends but with both keepers having good games all the chances were routinely thwarted one way or another.
Chester lined up looking like Hear of Midlothian in their Maroon and Sky Blue strip due to the clash of both their home and away strips with the Stag's Blue and Yellow.
Mansfield were the first to string an attacking run together in the 4th minute with Alex Neil working the ball well through midfield and threading it out to Adam Rundle on the left. Rundle's cross in towards the Chester goal was cleared confidently away by Richard Hope.
Robbie Foy tried a long range effort from the right hand channel in the 8th minute from about 30 yards out. It was a powerful shot but caused no threat to the Mansfield goal as it sailed over the bar into the stand.
In the 11th minute Richie Barker made a run through the centre of midfield for the Stags and set himself up with a shooting opportunity at goal. Again though there was no real threat and the ball went well wide for a goal kick to Chester.
Chester had a throw-in deep inside the Mansfield half only moments later. Andy Nicolas threw it deep into the goalmouth area where Phil Bolland rose above the crowd and nearly got his head to it, but it was just too much of a stretch and it was cleared away instead by Mansfield.
At the other end Mansfield had a brace of corners in quick succession. Alex Neil pounced on the first and forced a deflection from Ben Davies for the second, but again there was no danger.
With fifteen minutes played there really was still no sign of a goal with both defences dealing comfortably with anything that came their way. That situation changed in the sixteenth minute with a superb shot at goal from Scott McNiven for Mansfield. From 35 yards out in the left hand channel he played a superb long shot on target towards the far side of goal which would have gone in at the postage stamp corner if it had been not been for a great parry from MacKenzie at full stretch.
After a slow and even start to the game the traffic was starting to flow more and more in the direction of MacKenzie's goal. A Scott McNiven free kick on 24 minutes nearly resulted in the opening goal for Mansfield but it was marginally cleared away by the Blues.
A Mansfield free kick on 30 minutes was taken by Adam Rundle and found Fraser McLachlan in the centre of the box. It was cleared away by Richard Hope when a goal looked more likely.
Chester were awarded a corner in the 38th minute which Ben Davies played to the far post. Richard Hope rose above the crowd to header it down into the box but was judged to have fouled one of the Mansfield defenders. His protests for this earned him Chester's second yellow of the game.
Chester were coming back into the game at this point, stringing several good attacking runs together. Robbie Foy got on the end of a Drummond cross a moment later but was judged to be offside.
Robbie Foy had a great chance for Chester on 42 minutes. He made the run himself in midfield after Mansfield lost possession and sent in a great shot towards goal. Pilkington's parry was awkward to say the least with the ball bouncing wildly straight up in the air but he recovered well.
On the stroke of 45 minutes it was Ryan Lowe, making his debut for Chester, who nearly put the Blues ahead with a shot that curled in towards the right hand post and only just went wide of it.
If Chester went in fairly even at half time, it was a very different game at the start of the second half with the Chester goal under constant attack. It was against the run of play then that Chester nearly took the lead with the best shot of the game so far. It came from Ryan Lowe, a superb shot from in front of goal, which was fumbled by the goalkeeper. The ball continued bouncing slowly towards goal but unfortunately Pilkington managed to smother it before it could get over the line.
Chester won a corner in the 69th minute after a shot from Foy was deflected. Ben Davies played it towards the far side of the box but as Lowe couldn't quite header it down towards the feet of a Chester player and it was cleared away.
A Mansfield corner followed shortly afterwards. Alex Neil sent it into the box where it was cleared away by Chester, though not without Callum Lloyd trying to get a touch as it went out of the box.
The Blues had another good chance in the 76th minute. Michael Branch played a good ball through to Paul Carden who fired in a powerful shot from 20 yards out which went only narrowly wide of goal. This was end to end stuff with both sides looking capable and likely to score but with the sands of time slowly starting to run out, you had to wonder if Chester would be happy with a share of the points at this stage.
Chester won a corner 5 minutes from time after some good work down the left hand side by Andy Nicolas. Ben Davies took the corner which was cleared back out to him. His second cross found Stuart Drummond with a header which was on target but too close to the keeper who had no problem plucking the ball out of the air.
Just before the game went into injury time, there was a nervous moment for the Blues as Mansfield were awarded a corner after indecision from the officials, neither of whom seemed to want be the judge of who had the last touch. Alex Neil took the corner for the Stags but his shot was too close to the goal and MacKenzie made a routine save.
That was the last real action of the game as both sides played out the two minutes of added time, and Chester head back west with another valuable point in the bag.
Report by Campbell Smith.
Frustrated Stags are held
MANSFIELD Town dominated this home clash with struggling Chester but ended the night frustrated as they failed to find the net in a 0-0 draw.
Chester defended for long spells and wasted time from early on as they continue to battle for their Coca-Cola League lives.
The home fans were superb as they stuck behind Carlton Palmer's young side to the end, but City held on and were unlucky not to pinch a goal themselves as they had the more clear cut chances over the 90 minutes.
Thankfully none of the threatened protests from disgruntled home fans happened and, apart from finding the net, the young side showed the 3,437 who turned up much promise with a fine home debut by new signing Giles Coke while Callum Lloyd, another teenager making a home League debut, also caught the eye.
Mansfield boss Carlton Palmer said: "I was very pleased with our overall performance.
"We passed the ball well and we deserved to win. Our final ball could be better but that will come.
"When you have as much of the ball as we did tonight and don't score it can be worrying. But sometimes you need a break.
"Chester tried to slow the game down which was very frustrating and the referee did nothing about it.
"These are young lads who are learning and they will get better. If we had Colin Larkin fit tonight we would have won it game, set and match.
"I just wish we could have capped it by scoring a couple of goals for the fans. If we'd have got one, we'd have got three or four."
Mansfield's injury problems got no better with Alex John-Baptiste back in the side but Colin Larkin ruled out.
Simon Brown returned on the right of midfield but Palmer decided to go with Barker alone up front and leave on-loan Andrew Barrowman on the bench.
Luke Dimech dropped to the bench to accommodate the return of John-Baptiste.
Stags were thankfully afforded an excellent reception from the home fans after another week of unrest following recent results and player departures.
Mansfield enjoyed all the early possession though Chester had the first goal attempt when Foy was well over from 25 yards in the seventh minute.
Barker dragged a low shot wide for Mansfield from a similar distance four minutes later.
Chester survived three Stags corners in the first 14 minutes.
McNiven tried his luck from 30 yards with a sweet strike on 17 minutes that had MacKenzie diving to his left to save.
Lower was booked for bringing down McLachlan on 23 minutes and when Rundle curled the free kick in, it passed through a crowd of players and inches wide of the far post with no one able to touch it home.
Another Rundle free kick on the half-hour found McLachlan in front of goal. But his attempted finish was deflected over the bar off a defender's leg.
Manager Palmer was getting increasingly agitated at the visitors' time-wasting ploy and raced down to pitch side to complain.
A Rundle cross was just too powerful for Barker to reach as Stags continued to dominate.
City almost grabbed the lead against the run of play when a long Nicholas throw-in was headed on by Hope and Pilkington had to claw it from under his crossbar.
Hope was cautioned soon after for time wasting after kicking the ball following a whistle.
A poor McNiven pass gave Chester a chance as Foy raced away to get in a vicious shot which Pilkington blocked.
Another Chester break in stoppage time saw Lowe cut inside Neil and try a low curling finish which went wide of the far post.
Just before the break Edmondson was booked for a foul on Rundle as Stags left the field to warm applause - a rarity in recent months at Field Mill!
Neil almost made a spectacular start to the second half when on 48 minutes he picked the ball up on the halfway line and ran at the Chester defence, skipping a couple of tackles before shooting low and wide of the far post.
MacKenzie was comfortably behind a low McNiven effort from 30 yards.
Chester made a change on 54 minutes as Edmondson was replaced by Regan.
Drummond became the fourth Chester player booked for time wasting after kicking the ball away.
A good Neil cross picked out Barker seven yards from goal. But he headed wide and an offside flag went up anyway.
Stags had a let-off on 62 minutes. Buxton gave the ball away to Branch and he fed Lowe who tried to slot the ball under Pilkington. But the keeper half-stopped it and managed to get up and prevent it crossing the line at the second attempt.
McLachlan forced a save from MacKenzie after a return pass from Barker but the midfielder was then booked for a foul on Foy.
Lloyd was booked for a foul on Cardew.
Foy should have put Chester ahead on 77 minutes as he found himself in space in the box from Branch's square pass, but he blasted his shot wide.
Palmer made a change eight minutes from time as Dimech came on play right back, man of the match Neil pushed up to right midfield and Brown switched wings.
Pilkington was there to clutch a Drummond header after a half-cleared Chester corner was put back into the Stags box.
But neither side could break the deadlock as Stags went a sixth game without victory and Chester took home another crucial point in their relegation battle.
City boss Ian Rush said: "The most important thing tonight was to keep a clean sheet and we did that.
"Once we got to grips with their 4-5-1 system, which we sorted out at half-time, I thought we looked organised and, although Mansfield had a lot of possession, they couldn't do anything with it.
"In the second half, if there was going to be a winner, it was us and we had two good chances.
"The team worked their socks off and you can't ask for anything else."
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