Saturday, 14 January 2017

Retford 3 v Newark Town 3 - CMFL North

Bright and breezy.
Saturday 14th January 2017
Central Midland League (North)
at Cannon Park, Leverton Road, Retford
Retford FC (2) 3
Jason Swannack 24
Will Tomlinson 45+
Arron Blakey 78
Newark Town (1) 3
Chris Dobbie 39
Tyler Martin 67
George Pearce 85
Admission £3. Programme £1. Attendance 50
Truth be told, this was the first time that I'd left my sickbed since Wednesday tea time (missing scheduled games on three consecutive nights as a consequence), as I have spent the arse end of this week lamenting not making my annual appointment to get my flu jab.
So it's my own fault... and I don't expect any sympathy from you lot, but funk me! It was a rough and disheveled approximation of yours truly, who just about managed to drag myself up t'road to watch this Central Midlands League encounter today, hoping that an hour and a half of fresh air and sunshine, would somehow have some sort of restorative powers.
As of yet, I can't say that course of action was even a minor success.
It was a game that was probably more pleasing as a spectacle for the crowd who had descended on a bright and breezy Cannon Park this afternoon, than it would've been for either management team, given the manner in which several wholly avoidable goals were conceded.
But a draw was just about the right result all told, even if Retford did create slightly more chances over the course of the ninety plus minutes.
The top two sides in the division won quite emphatically today, with FC Bolsover coming back from being behind (twice) against fourth placed Harworth Colliery, to finish up 7-2 winners at Shirebrook, while an improving Welbeck Lions side, who now have a tie up with Worksop Town's development side, were trounced 8-0 at their Meden Vale ground, by Clay Cross Town.
AFC Bentley are up to third courtesy of their 3-1 win over Dinnington Town, while Retford and Newark Town finished the afternoon in fifth and sixth place respectively, after sharing the points and a few thrills and spills, in this lively encounter.
Retford FC, a team with no nickname, played in their all navy blue kit, while Newark Town, who like to be called 'the Blues' played in their change strip of yellow and green, so apologies if that causes any confusion later in the day.
I did hear Retford being referred to as the 'fake Badgers' and 'United reserves' by somebody from Newark, but both of those handles are way off the mark. This club is  a completely separate entity who happen to ground share with Retford United... and by the same flawed and uninformed logic used to make these assumptions, it could be (incorrectly) suggested that Newark themselves who might be accused of being 'Collingham reserves', in light of their own ground share; but let's stick to facts and dismiss such silliness. rubbish and far fetched conjecture out of hand, be it tongue in cheek banter, or otherwise.
It was the Badgers reserves, whoops! Look what you nearly made me do there you pesky idle gossips; I meant to say it was Retford FC, an independent a free standing football club, who representing grass roots football within the community of East Retford, who went on the attack from the off, with Will Tomlinson moving in stealth like to avoid the attentions of his marker, before striking the ball sweetly on the turn, just the wrong side of the left hand upright.
With five minutes on the clock, Dom Swingler went close at the other end after Damian Llloyd had nudged the ball forward into his path.
The Blues (of Retford) squeezed the visitors defence again and Tomlinson forced the Yellows (of Newark via Collingham) into conceding a corner, which Gareth Davies dropped tantalisingly into the six yard box and while the visitors defence did a passable impression of the (original and best) cast of Dad's Army, playing pass the parcel with a ticking time bomb, Tomlinson and Jerome Gordon both had shots blocked, before Stuart Rose eventually hooked the ball away off the goal line.
Tomlinson threatened once more, when he took a pass from Paul Middleton, turned 180 degrees on the spot to wrong foot Rose and stroked a crisply struck shot past Nathan Burrows but just a fag papers width past the left hand post. The Blues (from Newark) goal was leading something of a charmed life during the opening exchanges.
Almost as if a portal in time was running on repeat, Newark countered following Tomlinson's near miss and Swingler nudged the ball just wide at the other end, again.
Middleton won the ball in the middle of the park and sprayed a pass forward to Tomlinson, who freed Gordon with the time and space to shoot with a deft first touch, but Andy Smith was on hand, to block the powerhouse frontman's angled shot.
Gordon broke forward again through the left channel, with Retford's box to box left sided full back following him in hot pursuit, gambling on a loose ball and/or making himself available for a lay off in the event that the striker needed an extra option. 
In the event Burrows and Rose both arrived at the same time to block Grdon's run and their combined efforts saw the ball break to Swannack, who dragged it away from the situation with his first touch and knocked it calmly into the goal with his second, meaning that the Retford number three hadscored to mark the occasion of his 50th appearance for the club.
Congratulations Swanny!
Ironically, as football and numbers so often intertwine symbolically, this afternoon's attendance was a nice round fifty too.
Aaron Hutchinson almost doubled the home side's lead moments later as he cut in on the right along the dead ball line, combining well with Middleton. 
And Middleton was involved again, as he almost benefitted from the space that Tomlinson had created by taking three Newark players out of the equation as they followed him while he 'dinked' the ball inside, but Sam Wilford had remained vigilant and moved across to make the block.
Six minutes before the break, Newark pulled level, when Chris Dobbie spanked the ball under the dive of Chris Holmes in the Retford goal, from Tyler Martin's pass across the edge of the goal area.
The home side almost responded immediately, but Burrows saved well from Tomlinson's volley from Davies' forty yard knock over the top of the Newark defence.t.
Deep into first half stoppage time, Jack Johnson threaded a pass through to Tomlinson inside Newark's area, who powered forward and forced the ball over the line, in spite of the close attentions of (and a possible wrestling move by) Burrows, to give Retford a half time lead.
HT: Retford 2 V Newark Town 1
Having come to Newark's rescue a couple of times in the first half, Wilford almost made a catastrophic start to the second, when the 'heavy going' under foot conditions caught him out and he miscued a routine clearance into the path of Tomlinson and would have been  relieved to see Burrows sprint from his line and  reach the ball first.
Tyler Martin then went close twice for the visitors, when he chipped the ball wide from Swingler's pass and then saw Holmes pick out his wind assisted left wing cross from the under the bar, while Carl la Rocca did well to keep Swingler at bay as the visitors  built up a  head of steam.
Meanwhile, Swannacck countered quickly from the left and Burrows had to go down  at his feet to deny him another goal on his 50th anniversary.
On sixty seven minutes, Newark were on level terms again, when Jammy Lloyd put a right wing free kick into the mix that Rose headed back across the face of goal, forcing Holmes to claw the ball away from under his  bar, right into the path of Martin who netted from close range.
Arron Martin, a second half substitute for the visitors was making a nuisance of himself, offering more width and pace to Town's attack to good attack and he hadn't been on the pitch very long before Gareth Campion was being called on to clear things up at the back for the hosts, with Kieran Wall close by ready to make his mark.
Davies tried forcing the issue for Chris Woodhead's side after muscling his way through on goal from out on the right, but Burrows saved to preserve parity between the two sides.
George Pearce almost put (A) Martin through with a free kick down the left flank, but Middleton had tracked the ball and moved across to make an interception.
It's always a pleasure to see Arron Blakey in action, especially in full cry with the opposition's goal in front of him, but he has been blighted with bad luck as regards injuries that has curtailed the career of a player who otherwise had enough ability to play at a higher level.
Blakey entered the fray half way through the second half and announced his arrival in fine style in the seventy eighth minute, when having seen his initial shot blocked by Burrows after Tomlinson had picked out his run with a dipping pass over the Newark back line, he smashed the ball with such ferocity from the rebound, that Burrows can probably consider himself to be very lucky that he didn't actually get in the way of it, as it zipped into the back of the net, to put Retford ahead for a third time.
You've got to admire the way that Blakey still has the confidence and self belief to apply himself fully to such situations after the series of set backs that have befallen him over the years.
Blakey's strike, was one worthy of winning any game, but Newark weren't having any of that and they were soon back in the hunt for a third equaliser and Rose looked to have found the roof of the Retford net, until Holmes twisted and contorted his frame to reach the ball and tip it over.
Instead of holding an internal finger pointing shouting match about 'who the **** was picking him up?' and blaming each other for switching off with the three points in sight, Retford would've done better to put their squabbling on the back burner until after the game and focus on putting a foot through the ball and getting it away from the danger zone, as (A) Martin's flag kick bounced around inside the goalmouth and a scramble to get something on it ensued... George Pearce stood back a few yards from the goal and was in just the right place at right time as the ball rolled towards him from the melee and he crashed a first time shot through a crowd of legs to claim the draw for Newark,
(T) Martin almost snatched a fourth for Collingham based side playing in yellow and green but calling themselves the Blues, deep into stoppage time, but he couldn't keeping his shot on target, Though that might have constituted as rubbing things in just that little bit too much.
FT: Retford 3 v Newark Town 3
So did an afternoon of sunshine, fresh air and mental stimulation, help to fend off my ailments?
Did it bloody hell as like!
Where's that bloody Lemsip max strength and my duvet!?
See you all on the other side, it may be a while.

Friday, 13 January 2017


I/we will be staying fairly local(ish) to East Retford upon Idle and Mansfield on the Maun throughout January 2017; but striking out further afield from February onwards.
As per usual, the best laid plans of mice and men (and football travelers) are always subject to last minute alterations... but there is invariably a plan B (C,D,E & F) available somewhere else, always.
Check with the home clubs before setting off to any of the matches listed below, if you are in any doubt lwhatsoever as to whether they are going ahead or not, especially now that the winter weather is upon us; because I don't actually update this site every single day and some of the information might go out of date as a consequence.
Image result for hartlepool united v mansfield town the66pow
Sat 14 Jan - Stags U18 game is OFF
Sat 14 Jan - Retford v Newark Town - CMFL North - 3pm
Tue 17 Jan - Hemsworth MW v Maltby Main - 7.45pm
Wed 18 Jan - AFC Mansfield v Bottesford Town - NCEL Prem - 7.45pm
Sat 21 Jan - Rotherham United v Mansfield Town - EFLYA U18 at Parkgate FC - 11AM
Sat 21 Jan - Maltby Main v Hemsworth MW - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Tue 24 Jan - Mansfield Town v Wycombe Wanderers - Checkatrade EFL Trophy QF - 7.45pm
Wed 25 Jan - AFC Mansfield v Knaresborough town - NCEL LC4 - 7.45pm
Sat 28 Jan - Mansfield Town v Lincoln City - EFLYA U18 at Clipstone FC - 11AM
Sat 28 Jan - AFC Mansfield v Maltby Main - NCEL Prem - 3pm
Image result for afc mansfield the66pow

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Mansfield Town 2 v Oldham Athletic 0 - EFL Trophy

Tuesday 10th January 2017
Checkatrade EFL Trophy
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town (0) 2
Pat Hoban 84, 90+2
Oldham Athletic (0) 0
Admission £10. Programme £1.50
Attendance 1343 (inc 149 away)
Mansfield Town:
Kean, Bennett, Howkins (McGuire 70’), Peace, Benning, Collins, Baxendale, Clements (Thomas 83’), Hamilton, Hoban, Arquin (Green 83’).
Unused subs - Shearer, Rose, Hurst, Hemmings.
Oldham Athletic:
Ripley, Wilson, Clarke, Edmundson, Law, Croft (Mckay 61’), Fane, Green (Winchester 70’), Flynn (Banks 61’), McLaughlin, Osei.
Unused subs - Kettings, Dummigan, King, Glackin.
Prior to tonight, Oldham had only won one game in their previous eleven outings this season, and that came when they beat Walsall 3-1 in the previous round of the Checkatrade EFL Trophy. 
The Latics are currently anchored to the foot of the table in League 1 of the SkyBet EFL... and they're currently operating under a transfer embargo too.
Steve Evans and an exercise bike.
The mind boggles.
The club previously known as Pine Villa FC (formed in 1895), were inaugural and founder members of the Premier League in 1991, but slipped from their lofty perch in 1994. 
Folklore has it that when Mark Hughes equalised for Manchester United against Athletic, in the last minute of extra time in an evenly contested FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley Stadium, it was the catalyst for the club's imminent decline, and they have never really recovered from getting turned over 4-1 by the Red Devils in the replay at Maine Road.
Woo hoo! Tonight's programme folds out into a rather neat fixtures wall chart poster. I mean, just how cool is that, eh!?
Victory against Oldham tonight, means that the Stags have picked up £80,000 in prize money from this much maligned competition so far this season, as they marched on to the quarter finals, with a fairly straight forward win against Steve Robinson's side.
The home side left it late, finally clinching victory with a brace of goals from Pat Hoban in the eight fourth minute and stoppage time, but it had never really looked as if the Latics were about to snatch a win at any point, unless they had been practicing taking penalties; because if the game had finished all square at full time, it would've gone straight to a shoot out, sans extra time.
If it's entertainment you were after, Field Mill was the place to be tonight, with the Match referee Darren Drysdale being of a particular vintage if you like watching clowns and their slap stick capers.
I'm damn sure that is one thing that the supporters of both teams would agree about too.
Oldham's volatile manager gets sent back to his own dug out,
while his opposite number from Mansfield look on placidly.
I was texted during the game: "How can you, as a true football supporter, even consider attending a game in the Checkatrade Trophy?" Alas, I was actually too busy actually watching a game involving the team that I support and work for, so I merely sent a link by way of a reply.
If you're one of those people who has seldom ever attended games in this competition, under it's various guises over the years... nobody is forcing you to attend, but don't you dare try using your apparent stance as a means of trying to claim the political high ground, over those who woulds prefer to watch their team as often as possible... and don't bother tapping me up for tickets if your team reaches the final at Wembley. Not a fuggin' hope pal!
In the ninetieth minute, Carl Winchester blazed a great chance wide from just inside the Stags penalty area and Ryan McClaughlin felt that he had been  fouled as he squared up to shoot. Sodid I if truth be told, but Mr Drysdale was too busy performing the juggling and fire eating part of his act and didn't get a clear view as a consequence.
But either side of that encapsulated segment of the action, Pat Hoban scored for the home side.
His first came from a well worked move, which originated from the goal scorer passing along the left flank to CJ Hamilton , before assuming a position in the penalty area, Hamilton ghosted past his marker and delivered a cross to James Baxendale at the back stick, who hooked the ball across the face of the goal for Hoban to nod over the line from close range.
In stoppage time, Hoban timed his run perfectly to meet Baxendale's free kick and flicked the ball past Connor Ripley, to claim the victory for Mansfield.

Oldham hadn't been without a few decent chances themselves, with Edmundson and Pete Clarke, both heading wide... and Mal Benning had made a goal line clearance from Darius Osei just before the break..
However, Mansfield had the better of the game, albeit marginally at times and Chris Clements, Baxendale and Horan (again) had chances to put the game beyond the visitors lead.
Jake Kean had a couple of awkward moments to deal with, but ended the night with his third consecutive clean sheet against a side that he used to play on loan with, before the second biggest team in Sheffield let the Stags borrow him.
The draw for the quarter finals, takes place at 11.30am on Thursday morning and will be shown live on Sky Sports News.
The other sides to have reached the last eight, are: Cheltenham Town or Bradford City (playing 17th January), Coventry City, Luton Town, Oxford United, Swansea City U21, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town... hopefully the Stags will get a home draw then!
It would've been nice to visit Chesterfield one last time before they vanish off of the face of planet football forever, but the manager-less, directionless and pointless Spireites got battered 4-0 at Kenilworth Road tonight.
FT: Mansfield Town 2 v Oldham Athletic 0
Image result for field mill the66pow

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Mansfield Town 3 v Crewe Alexandra 0 - EFL League 2

Saturday 7th January 2017
SkyBet EFL League 2/Division 4
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town  (1) 3
Yohan Arquin 5
Ben Whiteman 48
Rhys Bennett 84
Crewe Alexandra  (0) 0
Admission by Season Ticket
Programme £3 Attendance 3,040 (226 away)
Back in October these two sides drew 1-1 at Gresty Road, with Pat Hoban giving the Stags a fifty first minute lead, before Chris Dagnall equalised shortly afterwards.
Steve Davis' Crewe side arrived at 'Wonk Hall' on  the back of a six game run (including four defeats) in which they hadn't won a game. 
Today they offered a multitude of clues as to why they're struggling at present, their shape and rhythm was almost as poor as the one being being beat out mundanely on a drum, that one of their supporters was banging in the sparsely populated North Stand, from where the most audible chant of the afternoon was "We want Davis out!" 
Passing the ball around an infinite amount of times, across the width of the pitch, before squandering possession again and again (and thrice again), isn't going to help get the Railwaymen out the sidings that they have found themselves shunted into any time soon.
226 Crewe fans
A hungry and eager looking Stags side, tracked the 'Alex' down and pounced at the optimum time to claim the ball on numerous occasions, but the visitors seemed to lack the flexibility to change tact.
On New Years Eve, while Mansfield were being held 1-1 at the Mill against title favourites Doncaster Rovers, 'Alex' lost 1-0 at home against Accrington Stanley.
Bank holiday Monday saw the Stags claim all three points from a trip to Blackpool, thanks to a solitary goal from Matt Green, which moved them up one place in the table, ahead of Crewe, who didn't have a game that afternoon, so coming into today's game, Steve Evans side were sat in sixteenth place in the table, eight points away from the play offs, which are still just about attainable; but more importantly, in my opinion anyway, nine points above the drop zone.
As expected, the new Stags manager has wasted no time in bringing in some new faces as soon as the transfer window opened and four new signings made their debuts at Bloomfield Road earlier in the week, namely: striker Yoann Arquin, who recently left Swedish side Syrianska, having previously spent time with Notts County, St Mirren and Ross County. Midfielder Joel Byrom, who has joined Mansfield from Northampton Town after having been released from his contract there. Goalkeeper Jake Kean has come in on loan, until the end of the season. And finally Ben Whiteman, a midfielder has also joined on loan until the end of the season, from Sheffield United. They all started this afternoon too.
And of course, besides the newcomers, as recently as yesterday afternoon, West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis agreed to extend centre half Kyle Howkins loan period until May 31st... and that can only be a good thing in light of his recent form.
Wow! Someone's been busy at the Sports Direct January sale.
Meanwhile, heading in the opposite direction; Adi Yussuf has left the Stags and joined League 2 rivals Grimsby Town on an eighteen month contract (he has scored in his first two games for the Mariners), Alex Lacovitti, who was at the club on loan, has returned to Nottingham Forest, and Oscar Gobern and Darius Henderson haven't had their contracts renewed.
By all accounts, the management team are looking to trim down the first team pool to twenty two players once any further transfer/player registration business is concluded.
Driving home from this  convincing Stags win, we tuned into BBC Radio Sheffield's always entertaining football phone in show 'Praise or Grumble', that this evening was besieged by Rotherham United supporters demanding changes at the New York Stadium, with the most popular suggestion by a country mile being that they take Steve Evans back as manager.
The Millers are a club that I personally bear no grudge against whatsoever, in fact you have to admire the way that they fought back from losing their fine old home at Millmoor, before keeping the club alive while playing at a (now demolished) athletic's stadium in Sheffield and finally hitting the dizzy heights of the Championship in their newly built all seater arena in the middle of Rotherham. Fair play to them and much respect too... but might I suggest that they should have tried a bit harder to keep hold of Neil Warnock as their manager at the end of last season. And that they can bugger right off as regards enticing their former, highly successful manager Steve Evans back.
Love him or loathe him, and I know people who fall into both camps, even among the Stags support,   Evans is doing a job for Mansfield Town now... and after a bit of a start/stop/start reintroduction into the murky pool of basement division football, the signs are definitely there, that the Stags faithful are on the verge of having an attack minded, pressing, passing, high tempo and ultimately, winning side to watch from this point forward.
The game was just under five minutes old when Yohan Arquin rifled a shot front through a crowd of legs from just outside the six yard box, to give the home side the lead.
Mal Benning dropped a long cross over the Crewe six yard box from out on the left, which Ben Whiteman met at the back stick and nodded the back across the face of the goal, Arquin got his head to it and divetrted the ball towards the goal, where it fell back kindly to him off of Jon Guthrie and Matt Green who were both challenging to get a touch on the goal line... and Arquin added the finishing touch. 
This was his first Stags goal, on a day that would mark several other firsts for the home side.
Ladies and Gentlemen, put you fingers in your ears, because... CRASH-BOOM-BANG!!! 
There goes the curse of Field Mill, the evil hex placed on the club that has prevented them from scoring in the first half of any game at home, in any competition, all of this season, has been blown away forever. Now let the floodgates open wide and just watch these Stags boys go now!
Who could ever have doubted that Mansfield Town were about to turn the corner all along, eh!?
Hmm, a majority of Stags fans that have at least one vowel in their name I would have thought, and though they have only just entered that rather long curve, please allow me to believe, that for a change, just once, that this time, all of the inevitable twists and turns are actually going to lead to a worthwhile destination.
Not that I'm getting carried away (yet), you understand.
Mal Benning, who spent the best part of the afternoon winning and then dispatching the ball down the left flank, more often than not to CJ Hamilton, picked out that very player with a lofted pass, who combined with Conor Whiteman to force a corner, from which Benning found the head of Arquin, but the 'new lad' headed over from close range.
Whiteman was tripped eighteen yards from Crewe's goal and took the resulting free kick himself, that Ben Garratt got his body behind and held onto.
Jake Kean got down well to save from Zoumana Bakayago and Benning (who else?) was on hand to clear the loose ball away.
The Stags rode their luck when Bakayago went down in the Stags area after Rhys Bennett caught his heel with a stray kick, but the visitors number fourteen continued his run before stumbling unconvincingly to the ground several yards after the event. If he had gone to ground when contact was made he would definitely have won a penalty, but in choosing that option several seconds too late, he actually ran the risk of a yellow card for assimilation.
He'll know exactly what to do the next time it happens.
The Stags were pushing forward in search of a second goal to cement their advantage before the break, but the final touch kept evading them as they swarmed around the visitors area.
Crewe for their part were still knocking the ball around aimlessly to very little effect, nibbling at the Stags rearguard occasionally, but never actually having anything like a proper bite.
HT: Stags 1 v Railwaymen 0
Almost straight from the restart, the home side doubled their lead, with what wasn't just Whiteman's first Stags goal, but was actually his first ever first team goal ever.
Ollie Turton unwittingly became the provider of the Stags second goal, when he blocked Hamilton's goal attempt but could only divert the ball into Whiteman's path, who thumped his shot home from the edge of the box, that had enough power in it to end up in the net even though Garratt got his hand to it.
Bennett had two chances to increase the Stags lead, including one where he hit the outside of the right hand post from around eight feet out, that led to a cruel jibe from somebody within earshot of me who called out "...and that is why you're a full back!"
Matt Green ought to have done better with a shot on goal, but seemed to get caught in two minds about whether to lay it off for Arquin or go for glory himself.
Predominantly, Green has been moved to the role of a wide attacker, but he is adapting really quickly and is offering even more options to the team, from making this small but significant tactical switch.
Crewe had all but thrown in the towel and their angry supporters were upping the volume of dissent towards their beleaguered manager, as the game moved into it's final stages.
The Stags ruthlessly finished off their poor opposition with six minutes to go, when yet another Benning/Hamilton move forced a corner out on the left wing, from which Baxendale delivered the ball to Bennett, whose first shot was blocked by Garratt, but he made no mistake from the rebound.
Another first! That was the first time that Bennett has scored for the Stags, "... and the bloody last time too!" joked his nearby detractor, in jest. At least I hope he was joking.
The second of two back to back clean sheets, is also something that the home side achieved for only the first time this season today too.
FT: Mansfield Town 3 v Crewe Alexandra 0
North Stand floodlights from Bishop Street
Okay, granted, it was a fairly substandard outing from Crewe, on the Stags day of many firsts, but you can only apply yourself professionally and beat what is in front of you in games like this.
Mansfield won this game at a canter and in a manner that suggests that there is still more to come once this side really gels together.
The Stags are at home in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night against Oldham Athletic, before they travel to Notts County for a 1pm kick off on Saturday. 
While Crewe face two in form sides in their next couple games, namely Luton at home and Doncaster away, over the next two weekends.
FOOTNOTE: Following this result (and performance), Crewe have dismissed their manager Steve Davis and replaced him with the former Stags player David Artell. Small world innit!?

Mansfield Town 1 v Doncaster Rovers 1 - EFLYA U18

It's your ass liner, you scratch it whenever you want to.
Saturday 7th January 2017
EFL U18 Youth Alliance
at Rainworth Miners Welfare FC
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Tyler Walker 58 OG
Doncaster Rovers (1) 1
Morgan Ratcliffe 13 OG
Mansfield Town:
Xavier Sundby, Teddy Bloor, Kane Baldwin, Cain Smith, Morgan Ratcliffe (C), Kieran Harrison, Henri Wilder, Ali Smith (Jason Law 60), Zayn Hakeem, Tom Marriott (Jake Dumbleton HT), Nyle Blake (Devante Reittie 69)
Unused subs - Aiden Walker, Surafel Behailu
Doncaster Rovers:
Louis Jones, Tyler Walker, Danny Amos, James Morgan (Cody Prior 85), Josh Barker (C), Reece Fielding, Keegan Townrow (Cameron Foulkes 62), Jake Fletcher, Lloyd Henderson (Lewis Scattergood 85), Will Longbottom, Matt Overton (James Morris 77)
Unused sub - James Leverton (GK)
With Burton Albion and Notts County both chasing hard, attempting to catch in the race for the title, a win against Rovers would have made the young Stags position a little more comfortable; but the visitors, looking for the points that would haul them up into the top half of the table, turned up and gave it a real go, as they looked to avenge the Stags narrow win at Cantley Park in October, when an opportunist strike from Tom Marriott was all that had separated the two sides.
It would be fair to say that the home side got off to a slow start to their first game of the new year and only really threatened Doncaster's goal sporadically until after half time.
Rovers showed their attacking intentions first, when Matt Overton broke away on the left flank and crossed to Lloyd Henderson, who crashed the ball against the crossbar from fifteen yards out.
Danny Amos was the next visiting player to deliver the ball in from the left, but Morgan Ratcliffe was on hand to head it away from danger.
Nyle Blake showed a burst of pace and darted forward through the left channel, but found himself outnumbered by four visiting players and he was unable to take them all on, on his own.
Ratcliffe hooked the ball clear from virtually under the bar, after Xavier Sundby had missed with an attempted punch to clear Keegan Townrow's free kick away.
But it proved to be third time unlucky for the Stags captain, when he tried to clear Will Longbottom's cross away in the thirteenth minute, but only managed to divert the ball into his own goal as it bounced unkindly and ricocheted off of his shin.
Doncaster probed for an opening on the left flank yet again and having made an overlapping run, Amos hooked the ball towards Jacob Fletcher, who lashed his shot over the bar.
But Fletcher atoned for his miss at the other end of the pitch moments later, when he managed to get in between Nyle Blake and Marriott's threaded pass and shielded the ball back to his keeper Louis Jones, who has impressed during several games for Maltby Main in the NCEL this season.
Mansfield's striker Zayn Hakeem was having his every move shadowed by Reece Fielding, a centre half who has played against the Stags first team for Rovers in this season's Checkatrade Trophy.
In a mix up that typified Mansfield's first half performance, Hakeem and Blake made a complete mess of completing a short corner routine and Tyler Walker comfortably cleared any apparent danger away.
Walker then comfortably cleared the Stags crossbar as Amos rolled a free kick into his path.
Cain Smith was relishing the battle for midfield and was the Stags standout player, filling in well in his own position and that of Cameron Healey who was absent from the game through illness.
With Wilder pushed to left back, to team up with Teddy Bloor, Ratcliffe and Kane Baldwin, Kieran Harrison appeared to be playing as a sweeper, in the hole behind Cain and Ali Smith.
And it was Harrison who having spotted the Rovers defence moving out who lobbed the ball over them for Hakeem to run onto, but having shaken off the attentions of Amos, the Antigua and Barbuda Under 20 international could only glance his shot instead of getting any real power behind it.
(C) Smith knocked the ball wide to Bloor on the right, who exchanged passes with Blake before crossing the ball towards Hakeem, but Jones had read the situation well and came off of his line to collect the ball. (C) Smith again, taking hold of the game by the scruff of it's neck, chipped a pass towards Hakeem who headed the ball towards Blake on the wing and sprinted forward to meet the return pass, but Jones showed good positioning again and made a catch.
Just before half time, the Stags had Kane Baldwin to thank for denying Rovers a second goal, when he managed to get his foot to a deflected shot from Amos and steer it away from the goal.
HT: Stags 0 v Rovers 1
Jacob Dumbleton came on from the bench at half time and almost made an immediate impact, when he showed a great touch on the left wing to take him past Walker before knocking the ball across the face of Rovers goal, to where Fielding hooked the ball away as far as Harrison, who blazed his shot wide of the left hand post.
Hakeem also took on Walker and dribbled past the frustrated full back, before running straight into Townrow and losing the ball.
(A) Smith dug the ball out of a crowd of players, advanced forward and played the ball out to Dumbleton on the left, whose first time delivery towards the six yard box was scrambled behind by a combination of Walker and Jones.
Sundby only got a glance of the ball at the last moment, but saved well from Overton who muscled his way past Ratcliffe.
Bloor was trying to unleash the Stags firepower, with a range of free kicks and long passes into the Rovers penalty area and in  the fifty eighth minute, one of his dipping balls was diverted past Jones by Walker as he tried to head the ball wide, but found the net to chalk up the second own goal of the game.
Jason Law entered the fray to add to the Stags attacking options, as the Rovers defence started to find themselves with a few problems to solve. Bloor put a left wing corner onto the head of Hakeem, who headed wide of the target. Jones got down on one knee to gather Bloor's twenty yard free kick up into his chest. Harrison powered straight through the centre of midfield and launched a 'fire blaster' of a shot, that Fielding blocked.
Law and Harrison combined to put the Stags third substitute, Devante Reittie through on the right hand side of the Doncaster area and thought the angle was tight, he got his shot away, but the ball took a deflection and went wide.
Having withstood a ten minute battering, Rovers broke forward, when Longbottom escaped and made a twenty yard run, unchallenged, before forcing a good reflex save from Sundby, who turned the ball over at full stretch.
Amos picked out Henderson with his flag kick, but the Rovers number nine put the ball wide.
(C) Smith, the Stags engine room, was still purring as the clock ticked down towards full time, he won a fair but firm tackle before spraying a pass to Reittie, whose stinging shot flew wide off of
Josh Barker.
Jones wandered briefly off of his line and was almost undone by (C) Smith's scooped effort that bounced on the line before the fortunate keeper managed to push the ball away.
Hakeem and (C) Smith linked to set up Law with a shot, but the ball dropped wide of the post.
In stoppage time, the Stags had Sundby to thank for holding onto their hard won point, when he instinctively got his hand to a lob from Amos and kept out James Morris from close range as Rovers finished the game with a flourish.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Doncaster Rovers 1
A game that could have gone either way, in which Mansfield salvaged some pride from their second half endeavours, after a most uncharacteristic lacklustre showing before the break.
Next Saturday, Rovers face a trip to title challengers Notts County, while John Dempster's side face Hartlepool United at Clipstone in a game that kicks off at noon (i.e a hour before the Stags first team kick off at Meadow Lane against Notts County). Mansfield's youngsters will have to be on top of things to see off Pools, who beat them 1-0 with a 94th minute goal from Liam Travers back in October.