STAGS CLOSE TO AN UP­SET AS CHANCES GO BEG­GING

Mur­ray re­fus­ing to slam strik­ers

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By Tim Mor­riss

MANS­FIELD boss Adam Mur­ray came within a whisker of mas­ter­mind­ing a Cup up­set against League One draw spe­cial­ists Old­ham in an en­ter­tain­ing goal­less tie.

Both sides squan­dered chances in dif­fi­cult, blus­tery con­di­tions, but Mans­field played the bet­ter foot­ball.

Mans­field striker Matt Green, with­out a goal in six matches, was twice de­nied just af­ter half-time by first goal­keeper Joel Cole­man and then full-back Cameron Dum­mi­gan from the fol­low-up, while Reg­gie Lamb also went close.

Mur­ray said: “It should have gone in. Reg­gie should have scored and nine times out of ten he would have done.

“We have been work­ing all week on our fi­nal third play and again we’ve seen a lot of crosses go­ing into the box and into the fi­nal third, but we just need some­thing to go in off some­one’s back­side.

“We were ex­cel­lent and we dom­i­nated the game. We played at the right tempo and in­ten­sity.

“Some of our play at times was top drawer and we did every­thing but score.

“If we play that week in week out, in our bread and but­ter, we will win a lot more than we lose.

“I was chuffed with the per­form ance , even though we missed that end prod­uct. It will come.

“Our keeper has had one save to make and that says it all. We just need that cut­ting edge and that rub of the green.”

Former Stoke City striker Ri­cardo Fuller wasted in­jury-hit Old­ham’s best chance, side-foot­ing wide from 12 yards af­ter be­ing left un­marked in front of goal in the 29th minute. It was the vis­i­tors’ best chance as they carved out the clearer op­por­tuni- ties in a tight open­ing dom­i­nated by a con­gested mid­field.

Mark Yeates’ early shot was de­flected over and then an out­stretched boot from Mans­field cen­tral de­fender Ryan Tafa­zolli blocked Daniel Philliskirk’s goal­bound drive.

Dis­ap­pointed Old­ham boss David Dunn ad­mit­ted his side had not played well, say­ing: “We weren’t good enough with the ball.We have be bet­ter when we are in pos­ses­sion.

“Ri­cardo is dis­ap­pointed he didn’t hit the tar­get, but we are in the hat for the next round, so that is not too bad. The lads worked re­ally hard. “Mans­field are a tough side and work hard for each other and we will have to show the same de­sire and com­mit­ment in the re­play. With the in­juries and sus­pen­sions we have picked up

re­cently we had to shuf­fle the pack, which wasn’t ideal.

“With­out mak­ing ex­cuses we are prob­a­bly short of four, five or six play­ers who would be start­ing.”

Green was de­nied a shoot­ing op­por­tu­nity by last-ditch de­fend­ing from Joseph Mills as Mans­field fought back later in the first half.

Then in first half in­jury-time Rose’s quick break and as­tute pass freed Craig West­carr, whose teas­ing cross was volleyed over from four yards by the un­marked Lambe. Lambe’s strik­ing part­ner Green was twice de­nied a break­through in the 57th minute af­ter a fine pass by Nicky Hunt and dummy by Lambe. Green raced clear and af­ter his shot was saved by keeper Cole­man, full­back Dum­mi­gan cleared the fol­low-up off the line.

Home keeper Brian Jensen dived full length to tip away sub­sti­tute Lee Croft’s curl­ing drive as play quickly switched from end-to-end in the sec­ond half as the fix­ture some­what came alive.

As Mans­field piled on the pres­sure for a late win­ner, Lambe, West­carr and Thomas all had shots blocked in a fre­netic fin­ish.

PIC­TURES: Dan West­well

LAMBE UN­DER­COOKED: Mans­field’s Reg­gie Lambe holds his head in his hands as Old­ham Ath­letic goal­keeper Joel Cole­man tips over his vol­ley

NO JOY: Stags boss Adam Mur­ray

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