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Harrogate Town 0-0 Mansfield Match Report – by Danny Puglsey

2 February 2022

Town began a spell of three home games in a week by earning a point in a goalless draw against form side Mansfield Town at The Envirovent Stadium.

On a windy evening the game sprang into life after the break with both sides having opportunities to get the win but ultimately had to settle for a point apiece.

Simon Weaver made three changes to the starting line-up to the side that fell to a 3-0 defeat at Stevenage on Saturday. Into the eleven came Alex Pattison, Brahima Diarra and Calum Kavanagh, making his home debut following his loan move from Middlesbrough.

The Stags opted for the same side that defeated Leyton Orient 2-0 at the weekend, a result that marked a club record eighth successive league victory. There was a place on the bench though for Lucas Akins, a transfer window arrival from Burton Albion.

Town’s attacking set up bore fruit after eight minutes when a cross-field ball brought Brahima Diarra into the action; his first touch freed Luke Armstrong who played in Kavanagh but the ball was just out of the reach of the young forward.

The Stags immediately responded though with Elliott Hewitt whipping in a cross from the right that met the incoming George Maris but Diarra did just enough to put the forward off before he could make any significant contact.

Town had to reshuffle the pack on 13 minutes when Lewis Richards limped off with a groin injury. The young defender being replaced by Warren Burrell.

The gusting wind was causing havoc for both sides in the opening half, impacting on the ability to have any cohesion in their attacking play.

It was little wonder that set pieces presented the best opportunity to test the opposition goal. And on the half-hour mark Stephen McLaughlin struck his effort from 25 yards out but the effort failed to trouble Mark Oxley.

John-Joe O’Toole was the first name in the book after he was penalised for pulling back Kavanagh with Rory McArdle joining him shortly before the break for a mis-timed tackle of Stephen Quinn.

Town stole possession in the opening seconds of the restart, with Diarra releasing the restored Alex Pattison. The midfielders run was brought to an abrupt halt by Ollie Clarke, who became the third name in referee Pollard’s book.

Minutes later Pattison  was again the driving force. Marauding forward from midfield, he played in Jack Diamond behind O’Toole and his first time ball was just that bit too close to Nathan Bishop in the opposition goal.

Town’s blistering stat to the second-half continued when Diamond played a ball over the top with Kavangah beating the offside trap for a golden opportunity to put Town ahead. His strike was too close to Bishop though and the game remained scoreless.

Stung by Town’s start, Nigel Clough opted for an early change and brought on Kieran Wallace for Clarke.

Town’s momentum was stunted on the hour when they lost a second defender through injury on the evening when McArdle, who had been involved in a clash minutes earlier, was forced off and replaced by Leon Legge.

And Town’s hearts were soon in their mouths when the defence failed to initially clear a corner and were grateful to Burrell for blocking Ryan Stirk’s goalbound strike.

Substitute Legge was soon the Town hero when he cleared off the line from Bowery, who really should have scored, but immediately after Diamond nearly swung the game Town’s way.

Kavanagh broke down the right and his pace was timed perfectly to meet Diamond’s stride and Bishop did well to keep his effort out with Armstrong’s follow-up effort a couple of yards at most over the bar.

Both sides were now trading blows with each other and Oxley was this time called into action to tip over a venomous drive from Stirk with just under 15 minutes remaining. By now, the game was there for either side to snatch victory in.

Town were the side who pressed most in the final stages and almost sntached a winner in injury tome when substitute Muldoon’s header was parried by Bishop and Armstrong’s follow up reboiunded off the crossbar, before Pattison’s strike from the edge of the box almost found a way through.

The draw was no less than Town deserved and in truth they could count themselves unlucky not to come away with all-three points against the form side in League Two.

TOWN: Oxley, Thomson, McArdle (Legge, 60), Richards (Burrell, 13), Page, Diarra, Falkingham, Pattison, Diamond, Kavanagh (Muldoon, 73), Armtrong.

Subs not used: Cracknell, Austerfield, Beck.

Booked: McArdle (41), Diarra (87)

Mansfield Town: Bishop, McLaughlin, Hewitt, Clarke (Wallace, 51), Bowery, Maris (Akins, 67), Hawkins, Quinn (Perch,90), Oates, Stirk, O’Toole.

Subs not used:  Johnson, Burke, Stech, Law.

Booked: O’Toole (36), Clarke (46)

Referee: Chris Pollard.

Attendance: 1,800 (570 away)

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