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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

29 December 2023 Venue One Call Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Reports

REPORT | Mansfield Town 1 Rovers 1

29 December 2023

Rovers closed out 2023 with a hard-fought point at high-flying Mansfield Town.

The hosts led through a header from Callum Johnson but Joe Ironside’s fine finish after the break drew Rovers level.

A share of the spoils was nothing more than Rovers deserved as they delivered a much-improved performance.

Particularly during the first half, they enjoyed the better of the attacking play and defended well for the majority of an energy-sapping evening.

Grant McCann made two changes to the side that started on Boxing Day with Tommy Rowe and Mo Faal returning to the XI.

Mansfield were quickly on the front foot and veteran midfielder Stephen Quinn lashed a shot narrowly wide from a tight angle in the early stages.

Rovers had the ball in the back of the net on ten minutes when Aden Flint’s attempted clearance ricocheted in off team mate Jordan Bowery but referee Scott Jackson signalled for a foul from Mo Faal in the build-up.

The hosts had a shout for a penalty turned down when Johnson tumbled under challenge from Faal.

But Mansfield took the lead on 21 minutes as Johnson powered in a back post header from a Stephen Quinn cross.

George Maris side-footed narrowly wide from the edge of the box moments later for the hosts but Rovers produced a promising spell in response.

Luke Molyneux chased down a lost cause and did superbly to keep the ball in at the byline before firing towards he near post with Stags keeper Christy Pym parrying away.

Harrison Biggins thumped a header narrowly over the crossbar after a brilliant ball into the box from Rowe before Jamie Sterry’s low drive ricocheted off Aden Flint and hit the post just after the half hour mark.

Rovers were much the better side in possession as half time approached, though Louis Reed tested Lawlor’s attention with a first time effort from the edge of the box that was comfortable for the Irishman.

Within seconds of the start of the second half, Biggins curled a fine effort narrowly wide from 20 yards.

Maris fired straight at Lawlor from distance before the Irish keeper was forced off with an injury and replaced by Louis Jones.

Biggins produced a brilliant recovering challenge to prevent Maris from netting after a fine mazy run.

Rovers found the leveller on 59 minutes. Senior met a long diagonal ball and nodded inside for Ironside. The striker saw his first effort blocked but picked his spot superbly with the follow-up from 15 yards.

Jones produced a stunning save to tip the ball over the bar from a Flint header at the back post.

And it proved to be the start of a frantic finish to the game.

Jones got behind a low drive from substitute Ollie Clarke from distance before opposite number Pym pushed away a great curling strike from Biggins. Rowe sent a header on target from a Senior cross.

Jones produced another great save to tip away a Johnson header with Owen Bailey hacking the ball off the line in the resulting melee.

The greater pressure came from the hosts in the later stages but they struggled for clear cut opportunities.

Jones was well-placed to deal with a header from substitute Rhys Oates, who then headed just off target deep into eight minutes of added time.

Rovers: Lawlor (Jones 57), Sterry, Olowu, Bailey, Senior, Biggins (Kuleya 78), Close, Rowe, Molyneux, Ironside, Faal (Goodman 78). Subs not used: Faulkner, Nixon, Straughan-Brown, Hurst.

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