Exeter City 0-0 Mansfield Town: Grecians play-off hopes dented after draw
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Exeter City’s League Two play-off hopes were dented after they were held to a goalless draw by Mansfield Town.

Chances came at a premium throughout the game at St. James Park, with neither side really worthy of the three points.

With results elsewhere, the Grecians are now three points behind Newport County in seventh with eight games to go.

Team news

Exeter made three changes from Good Friday’s defeat at Port Vale, including the return of captain Jake Taylor. Pierce Sweeney and Tom Parkes also came in to the starting XI, with Nigel Atangana and Rory McArdle dropping to the bench and Alex Hartridge not included amongst the subs.

Mansfield, meanwhile, made four changes of their own having lost at home to Leyton Orient three days ago. Nigel Clough brought in Ollie Clarke, Ryan Sweeney, Stephen McLaughlin and Tyrese Sinclair as they bid for a first away win since January 23.

And it was the Stags who went close inside three minutes when Stephen Quinn’s cross from the left was hooked goalwards by George Lapslie but the ball went just wide of the far post.

Neither side really took a grip of the game early on, and only good defending from Taylor to block Clarke’s ball across kept the score goalless as Exeter failed to really test Aidan Stone inside the midway point of the opening 45.

The hosts’ first real attack of intent came just before the half hour mark, as Josh Key was played in behind down the right hand side and his pull back eventually fell to Ryan Bowman, but his effort was blocked on the edge of the area.

Archie Collins then played the ball across to Lewis Page in space on the left, who had a go from range but the ball went well off target.

Jokull Andresson was then called into action as McLaughlin was allowed room to drive forwards from the left into the penalty area, before seeing his low drive turned away by the City keeper.

Exeter chance

And City’s first effort on target almost produced the opening goal in first half stoppage time. Collins did well to turn down the right and he lifted the ball to the far post where Jack Sparkes rose highest but his downward header was clawed away by Stone.

The Grecians then counted themselves lucky not to go down to ten men five minutes after the break. Sweeney got his pass back to Andresson from the half-way line all wrong and Quinn looked to break through, only to be pulled down by the City defender. However, referee Carl Brook only showed yellow to Sweeney.

Exeter got into better areas at the start of the second half, but it was Mansfield who almost went in front on the counter but Clarke couldn’t direct Jordan Bowery’s cross on target.

Randell Williams came on at half time for the hosts and he looked to put his team on the front foot, seeing a low ball across from the right cleared before he cut inside from the wing before seeing his shot blocked by a combination of Farrend Rawson and James Perch.

Mansfield then went close themselves with 73 minutes on the clock when Sinclair left Sweeney for dead inside the area but from a tight angle saw his effort saved by Andresson.

Penalty shout

And there was a controversial moment ten minutes from time after Sinclair was judged to have dived as he broke through on goal, under pressure from Sweeney, much to the disbelief of the Mansfield bench.

With neither side making the final ball count late on, neither side really had an opportunity to win the game as time wore on as the points were shared.