STAGS HELD TO 0-0 BY SHREWS KEEPER
Shrewsbury Town 0 - 0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 3747 (141 from Mansfield)
8 Goal Attempts 19
5 On Target 8
3 Off Target 11
0 Hit Woodwork 0
1 Offsides 1
7 Corners 5
9 Fouls 10
HART HALTS THE STAGS' VICTORY ROLL
Shrewsbury Town 0 - 0 Mansfield
THEY say the mark of a good goalkeeper is that he can have nothing to do for 90 minutes but then pull off a top-drawer save when required.
It's just a shame that the Stags had to come up against one who proved that theory last night.
England under-19 keeper Joe Hart, like his opposite number Kevin Pressman, was a spectator for much of the game at Gay Meadow.
But when his side needed it, he produced the goods to deny Giles Coke when the Mansfield midfielder looked certain to score after bursting clear.
Most of the Stags fans who travelled to Shropshire have never seen Hart play before and must have wondered what all the fuss was about.
But they know all about him now.
Hart's miraculous save - that saw him push away Coke's goalbound close-range drive - was a combination of anticipation, athleticism and luck. It is why Stuart Pearce is reported to be keen to take the 18-year-old to Manchester City and he is rated by some in the £1m bracket.
Had he not produced it, the Stags would have taken home three points that their second-half performance and pressure in the last quarter-of-an-hour probably deserved.
As it was, they had to settle for just one from a largely scrappy encounter that was not helped by a bobbly pitch.
In that the Stags did not get what their play merited, the game was not dissimilar from their previous game with Grimsby. But there were better performances all over the pitch, particularly from the defence, which leaked two goals through sloppy errors at Blundell Park.
Gareth Jelleyman and Jon-Olav Hjelde, in particular, picked up their games, the latter's heading ability proving crucial in negating the threat of in-form Shrewsbury new boy Glynn Hurst.
In midfield, Coke's re-introduction alongside Jonathan D'Laryea gave the team a solid look while Stephen Dawson switched effectively to the right-hand side.
The only disappointment was that Adam Birchall - asked to play out of position on the left - was ineffective for the most part.
Up front, Danny Reet made a promising full debut, his ability to hold the ball up with his back to goal particularly catching the eye.
He, along with partner Richie Barker, ensured the ball did not come straight back by making life hard for the Shrewsbury back four, which gave the visiting defence vital breathing space.
With Wolves boss Glenn Hoddle watching in the stands, the Stags made a bright start.
But Jake Buxton headed wide and D'Laryea was also off target with a snap shot from the edge of the box.
The best opportunity for the home side in the first half came on the half hour when a deep cross from Neil Sorvel found Chris McMenamin unmarked.
His header beat Pressman but Alex John-Baptiste dashed back to clear the ball from under the bar.
After the break, the Stags looked more likely to win it, as the home fans became more and more restless with Shrewsbury's inability to get near the visitors' goal.
That highlighted just how well the Stags defended as a team, especially as they were facing a side who had won three on the bounce and have a terrific home record.
Reet was inches from converting a header back across goal from Barker while the former Rotherham striker headed straight at Hart from six yards.
Buxton also tested Hart, but the young keeper held his powerful drive at the second attempt before his moment of brilliance to thwart Coke.
More than £400 was raised in a collection before the match in memory of Stags goalkeeping coach Peter Wilson, who died of a heart attack. Manager Peter Shirtliff said: "I am delighted to hear about the collection and with the way the minute's silence was observed."
Shrewsbury 0-0 Mansfield
Shrewsbury were denied a fourth straight win by Mansfield.
The Stags made a bright start and loan winger Jonathan D'Laryea fired close with a 20-yard drive before defender Jake Buxton's header threatened.
Alex John Baptiste's superb goal-line interception then denied Colin McMenamin as the home side fought back.
But Mansfield finished strongly with Richie Barker wasting a great chance while keeper Joe Hart made two good saves from Giles Coke and Buxton.
Stags hold in-form Shrews
ALTHOUGH it was a fourth game without a win, Mansfield Town will be well satisfied with their goalless draw against in-form Shrewsbury Town at Gay Meadow last night.
On a difficult, rutted surface, the visitors grew in stature as the game wore on but couldn't find an end product to some good approach play with the surface hampering passing.
The Shrews were on a three-match winning streak and Colin McMenamin was unlucky to see Alex John-Baptiste deny him with a first half goal line clearance. But Stags defended well and Kevin Pressman was rarely troubled.
The precious point at least sets Stags up for two crucial home games in four days with Rochdale Saturday's visitors (3pm) and Chester City on Tuesday (7.45pm), both games bringing former Stags bosses to Field Mill.
With players looking tired after so many games recently, Shirtliff rang the changes as promised and Uhlenbeek, Rundle and Russell found themselves on the bench.
Coke returned to central midfield, Birchall came in to play wide left and Reet made a full debut up front alongside Barker.
The home side, with three straight wins behind them, were unchanged.
The night began with a minute's silence for Stags goalkeeping coach Peter Wilson who died in the pre-match warm-up when this game was originally due to take place in November.
Mansfield quickly found themselves on the back foot and had plenty of defending to do in the early minutes.
But they got forward to force the first corner on five minutes which Jelleyman floated over and it came out to D'Laryea on the edge of the box who controlled before firing a low shot narrowly wide.
Two minutes later Mansfield won another corner and this time Jelleyman picked out Buxton at the far post who sent a header just wide from five yards.
McMenamin saw John-Baptiste get a good block on his powerful shot to hand the Shrews their first corner. It was only cleared as far as Sorvel who was well over from 25 yards.
On 20 minutes Edwards showed good control and a burst of speed before exchanging passes with Hurst on the edge of the box and sidefooting a finish just wide.
A great run by Sharp took him past three opponents before feeding McMenamin who crossed dangerously across the face of the Mansfield goal with no one there to capitalise.
On the half-hour John-Baptiste produced a stunning goal line clearance to keep out a McMenamin header from Sorvel's cross that was dropping under the far angle.
Jelleyman's outstretched leg blocked a Tolley shot to concede another home corner as half-time approached. And, in stoppage time, Pressman conceded and then calmly caught the home side's sixth corner.
Buxton had the first attempt on goal after the break with a powerful shot that flew just over after Hart had left his line to punch away a cross.
Seconds later Dawson was only just wide with a low shot from 25 yards as the visitors came out playing the better football.
Hart punched away another high ball towards Buxton 35 yards out but the full back this time sliced his hurried shot well wide.
Barker headed a Dawson cross back across the goal mouth from the far post but the home side again survived.
Shrewsbury threatened on 57 minutes as Hjelde superbly blocked Tolley's shot and Pressman was there to gather Hurst's follow-up.
Jelleyman's pass to the feet of Reet saw the new boy lay the ball off for Birchall 18 yards from goal and, with Hart fractionally off his line, Birchall curled an ambitious finish over the bar.
With Stags clearly on top, Shrewsbury swapped Langmead for Edwards on 62 minutes.
Four minutes later Coke set off on an energetic run from in his own half to the Shrews penalty area where the ball ran for Dawson to cross and Barker headed straight at Hart from close range.
Sharp's corner was headed over by Langmead soon after before Stags made a change down the left of midfield with Rundle on for Birchall.
Rundle's first cross was hard and low and found the incoming D'Laryea who poked the ball first time wide.
Barker then glanced a header wide from a Jelleyman cross as Stags continued to look the side more likely to break through.
Barker also sliced a volley well wide soon after and then Coke had a shot deflect for another corner.
Six minutes from time D'Laryea squared a low ball towards Coke and his fizzing low shot was too hot for Hart to hold first time, the keeper grabbing the ball at the second attempt.
Shrewbury made a double swap five minutes from the end as one former Notts County striker replaced another with Stallard on for Hurst while Cowan replaced Sharp.
Going for broke, Stags went with three strikers for the last two minutes, Russell coming on for Dawson.
Hart produced a great save in the last minute to keep out a fierce blast from Coke and was also behind Buxton's stoppage time shot.
SHREWSBURY: Hart, Whitehead, Sharp (Cowan 85), Tolley, Sorvel, McMenamin, Ashton, Herd, Edwards (Langmead 62), Hurst (Stallard 85), Hope. Subs not used: Brush, Denny.
STAGS: Pressman, Jelleyman, John-Baptiste, Dawson (Russell 88), Barker, Birchall, (Rundle 69) Buxton, Coke, Hjelde, D'Laryea, Reet. Subs not used: Day, Uhlenbeek, White.
REFEREE: Lee Probert of Gloucestershire.
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Giles Coke.
Gary Peters again keeps the same starting line-up which he's picked for the last three games as Town look to keep their recent good form going. Kelvin Langmead who was the one doubt after taking a knock in the Carlisle game is passed fit to take his place on the bench.
The game started brightly for both sides with Town trying to take the early advantage with the ball going down the right with Dave Edwards, the visitors were getting the ball into Joe Hart's box and a couple of corners stretched the Town defence.
Colin McMenamin did well to get onto a ball in behind the Mansfield defence; he got in a snapshot on goal that was blocked for a corner. Kevin Sharp took an in swinging kick with his left foot that found the head of Richard Hope but his header went in the back of a Mansfield player and the visitors cleared down field.
Neil Sorvel played a superb ball to the right hand side in to the run of Dave Edwards, he continued his run and then played the ball into Glynn Hurst who was on the edge of the box with his back to goal, he controlled the ball and then laid it back to Dave Edwards who shot but his goal flew wide of the far post.
Kevin Sharp showed some great skills on the edge of the visitors box when he got the ball played into him, he skipped past 3 players and into the box and then laid it off to Colin McMenamin who was in space to his left, Macca drilled in a vicious shot which flashed in front of Pressman's goal.
Town looked to have taken the lead on the half hour mark when Neil Sorvel played another superb ball in to the Mansfield box, he stroked a cross from in front of the Riverside to the back post to find the head on Colin McMenamin, he put a great looping header into the back post which left Pressman routed to the spot but somehow Alex Baptiste flew in to head the ball off the line and over the bar for Town corner.
The best chances were falling to Town and when the ball came to Richard Hope in the box after he'd stayed up following a Town throw, he nicked the ball over his head to find Jamie Tolley who smashed in a great first time volley but unfortunately a Stags player got in the way.
Glynn Hurst put the Town defence under pressure when his attempted back pass fell short of it's mark and allowed Baptiste to nick in, he broke in to the Town area and cut the ball back across the box towards a Stags head at the back post but Ben Herd was there to get a head the ball away in the nick of time.
Mansfield had a half chance at the start of the half when a cross into the Town box found Joe Hart coming for the punch but flying in to Richard Hope, he managed to get the ball away but it fell to Adam Burchill who got a first time effort in which flew just over the bar. Then moment's later Mansfield again got another good chance when Stephen Dawson smashed low drive just wide of the post.
It was end to end stuff at the start and Town had a lovely move again coming from Sorvel when got play going with the ball out to Sharp, he played an great ball for Ashton to run onto and he got the ball into Hurst, he held the ball up and then laid it off to Tolley who drilled in a low drive which Mansfield managed to get away. The visitors were then on the attack and when the ball was put into Reet at the back post he nodded the ball back across the face of goal but luckily no Mansfield player could get on the end of it.
Gary Peters made his first switch of the evening on 62 minutes with Kelvin Langmead onto replace Dave Edwards.
Giles Coke powered forward as the Town defence backed off, McMenamin was trying to get back but Coke continued his run, he got to the edge of the Town box but Hope slid in with a well timed tackle, though it fell to Burchill who crossed into the box to find the head of Barker but his header was straight at Hart who collected well.
Town were getting pushed back by the visitors and couldn't really get out of their own half, it was getting scrappy in the midfield with Mansfield looking the more dangerous of the two sides but Town were digging deep to keep out the Stags.
With just over 5 minutes remaining Gary Peters made a double switch with Mark Stallard on to place Glynn Hurst and Gavin Cowan onto replace Kevin Sharp at left back.
Joe Hart had made a few good saves over the evening but saved his best until the game entered injury time, Danny Reet was strong to burst through the Town defence and then looked to get his shot in from close range but Hart was quickly in to dive at his feet and block the shot, and then moments later he nearly equalled it with a great reaction stop from a Jake Buxton.
Latest | January 2006