Stags’ manager Hakan Heyrettin can be happy at the way his team responded to Tuesday’s poor display by the way they dug in and earned a point with a gritty and sometimes skilful display against Maldon Town.
The Stags were first out of the blocks and pressed Maldon back into their own half with the attacking pairing off new boy Alastair Heselton and the experienced Ken Charlery combining well to outwit the Maldon defence on a number of occasions. Maldon then came back into the game and forced a midfield battle.
After the initial bout of home pressure during which the Stags had a couple of half chances, it was Maldon who should have taken the lead when on their first real attack they won two corners in quick succession. The first came to nothing but Town centre back Paul Goodacre had a clear chance on goal but headed well wide when he should have scored.
A few minutes later Charlery combined well with Heselton to head the ball into the attacker’s path but his shot was not good enough to trouble Glen Johnson in the Town goal. However, it was a glimpse of how the two were to combine effectively for the rest of the match.
On 22 minutes the game seemed to get stuck in the midfield until a superb pas came out of the home defence to set Heselton on a run, beating two defenders and narrowly shooting wide after Johnson had come out to effectively narrow the angle.
Charlery was involved in the next chance when he received a cross just inside the penalty area and laid the ball off to Paul Armand whose first time shot was superbly saved by Johnson diving to his right to send the ball off for a corner. But, again, it was a look at things to come.
Five minutes later, Charlery was in action again when I the area he tried to beat Johnson with a quick shot on the turn but this time the ball went just over the bar.
Both teams had first half chances that could have given them the lead but they had to wait until the second half to create a breakthrough.
After a first half when the Stags had put together some excellent moves and defended well, it seemed that goals were not far away in the nest period. The second half started well for the Stags as they forced more openings, they could have taken the lead early had Heselton not snatched at a free chance after some great work down the right when Sol Henry managed to get by the “experienced” Nicky Smith for the first time and crossed for Heselton waiting unmarked in the middle.
Another chance went begging when the Stags won a free kick on the left of Town’s penalty area. Ashton played the ball short to Heselton, whose cross slipped past Johnson’s grasping hands only to skim past the waiting heads of the home attack.
Against the run of play after a really bright opening period for the home side, almost on the hour, Maldon won a corner that seemed to have been well dealt with by the home defence but they allowed the ball to find its way to Craig Huttley about thirty yards out from goal in a central position. His first time, looping shot dipped into the home goal to give Maldon the lead.
Celebrations were short live as on the 63rd minute, Heselton outran the defence again and slammed in a low hard cross which Paul Armand volleyed into the net. The home side’s confidence grew and they pressed forward in search of a winner.
Charlery was giving Goodacre all kinds of problems and began to win free kicks around the area: the Stags began to feel they could win but, in the end they gave Town’s defence some sticky moments sharing the honours after 90 minutes.