Chesterfield and Mansfield Town shared the spoils in an intense 0-0 draw, with both sides coming away feeling they had created enough chances to win.
The scoreline didn’t do credit to an open and often pulsating match with plenty of clear openings. Mansfield’s Ollie Palmer had the best of the lot deep into injury time when he fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
The atmosphere steadily built up before kick-off as the 1,500 travelling Spireites made the majority of the noise at an increasingly loud One Call Stadium.
Barely 90 seconds into proceedings and the visitors were a whisker away from a perfect start. An under-hit header back towards the keeper allowed striker Marc Richards to round the keeper, but with the angle tightening his shot was just cleared off the line and over for a corner by the athletic coverage of Ryan Tafazolli.
From the off it was a physical encounter, explaining manager Paul Cook’s decision to start Sam Hird in the midfield ahead of Jimmy Ryan. Chesterfield were unwilling to be bullied by their Mansfield opponents, whose first chance of note came when Lee Beevers controlled a half volley that dipped over Tommy Lee’s crossbar.
Midway through the half it was Mansfield who were in the ascendancy, looking to get the ball forwards quickly to burley target man Matt Rhead. Chesterfield’s ‘keeper however, remained untested.
At the other end Danny Kearns, making his first start for the club, showed his undoubted ability on the left wing, beating his man before firing in a shot that was deflected narrowly wide.
Ollie Banks next tried his luck with an audacious effort from just inside the Mansfield half. Seeing home ‘keeper Alan Marriott well off his line the midfielder hit a first time volley that was falling in but was gathered by the retreating Marriott.
Chesterfield were starting to push forwards now and after Richards was brought down 25 yards from goal, defender John Dempster earning himself a caution, Gary Roberts swerved the freekick over the wall but too close to the ‘keeper.
Approaching the break the temperature dropped with swirling wind also bringing a rain shower over the stadium. The conditions didn’t help the flow of the game and the half ended goalless.
The teams re-emerged for the second period with a change in personnel for the Spireites, Mason Bennett on for Banks. The shuffle almost paid instant dividends when the 17 year-old turned his man deftly in the box and fired a shot just past the angle, not far away from writing himself into Chesterfield folklore.
The sun was back out again and the pressure was rising on the Mansfield goal. Bennett rose highest to head a Kearns cross, the ball falling to Tendayi Darikwa who blasted a shot inches over the bar and into the visiting support.
Kearns and Darikwa were combining well down the right and Darikwa soon tricked his way past multiple Town defenders before his cross was put behind for a corner.
On the hour mark the home side had their first chance of the second half as the ball found its way to Jamie McGuire who slashed a 20-yard shot well wide. Town captain Adam Murray was then booked for a late tackle on halfway, the intensity starting to crank up.
The Stags were beginning to show themselves coming forwards and a threatening ball curving back across the six-yard line from Murray was inches away from the boot of substitute Sam Clucas.
For the Spireites it was again Bennett spearheading their attacking threat. Latching onto a Roberts pass he shot first time and got a deflection that took the pace off the ball just enough for the wrong-footed ‘keeper to recover and gather.
Both sides made attacking double changes and the ball was starting to swing form end to end. Stags striker Ollie Palmer had a close range shot blocked before Clucas headed wide a minute later. For the visitors Roberts volleyed goalwards but too close to Marriott who palmed over.
Chesterfield then survived an almighty scare as in a goalmouth scramble from a Mansfield corner Clucas had an effort somehow cleared off the line by a combination of Ritchie Humphreys and Tommy Lee. At the second attempt the ball went wide and the away side breathed a sigh of relief.
Three minutes from time Armand Gnanduillet fried in a 30 yard freekick that was spilled by the ‘keeper, who in the next attack, did better to hold onto a low Bennett drive.
In the fourth and final minute of the match the best chance of all fell to Mansfield striker Ollie Palmer. Eight yards out he half volley a low shot past Lee but also past the far post, with both sides having to settle for a point in an enthralling encounter.
Mansfield Town: Marriott, Dempster (Clucas 63'), Riley, Rhead, Tafazolli, Anthony Howell, Jennings, Beevers, Murray (c), McGuire (Meikle 63'), Palmer.
Subs not used: Sutton, Stevenson, Speight, Clements, Daniel.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt (c), Cooper, Humphreys; Morsy, Hird, Kearns (Gnanduillet 70'), Banks (Bennett 45'), Roberts; Richards (Doyle 70').
Subs not used: Dunbavin, Smith, Ryan, O'Shea.
Goals: Mansfield Town 0 - 0 Chesterfield
Attendance: 5,941 (1,497 Chesterfield)