Tranmere Rovers 0, Mansfield Town 0

TRANMERE had to settle for a point after an entertaining goalless draw against unbeaten Mansfield Town at Prenton Park.

James Norwood came close either side of half-time for Rovers, but the Yellows were guilty of missing two clear cut opportunities after the break that would have left Micky Mellon's men empty-handed.

The Scot made one change to the side that lost at Swindon on Saturday, replacing the suspended Jay Harris with new loan signing Luke McCulloch.

The visitors had the first effort of the match just four minutes in when a half volley from Otis Khan was palmed by Scott Davies and gathered at the second attempt.

A return pass to Ollie Banks from a corner allowed the midfielder to get a shot in from the edge of the box, but with Tranmere's strikers breathing down his neck, Bobby Olejnik was able to hold onto it.

Neal Bishop then blazed one over the bar for Mansfield at the other end but Khan made Davies work much harder five minutes later when his dipping long-range effort was tipped over the bar by the Rovers 'keeper.

Norwood broke free of the visitors' defence on the quarter of an hour mark but his shot was saved by the legs of Olejnik.

A toe poke from Norwood almost got Johnny Smith in on goal but Krystian Pearce was wise to it.

In stark contrast to the usual fare served up in the National League, Mansfield had come to Prenton Park with a willingness to play football and that suited Rovers.

But the hosts were carved open on the half hour mark with Khan's shot saved by Davies, when the striker perhaps should have squared for an easy tap in.

Norwood and Jennings both saw long-range efforts deflected wide for corners as Tranmere shift the attacking impetus back in the opposite direction.

Successive fouls on Cole Stockton and then Banks saw Hayden White shown a yellow card.

He was lucky it wasn't another colour.

A poor touch from Johnny Smith presented a shooting opportunity to Neal Bishop, but his low drive was deflected wide for a Mansfield corner.

Having invited pressure on his own defence with a loose pass out of the back, Steve McNulty had to cut out a cross from the right for a corner, atoning for his earlier mistake.

Having lost the initiative towards the end of the opening 45 minutes, Rovers started the second half in more positive fashion.

A flick over the top from Jennings put Smith in behind, but his cut back was snuffed out.

Jack Caprice then danced past his marker and crossed for Norwood, who's front post shot was deflected over the bar.

Mansfield responded.

A low cross from Tyler Walker caused all manner of problems for Rovers, but Caprice managed to get something on it to deny Craig Davies a certain goal.

Norwood went close when Jennings' flicked ball across goal was deflected around the post.

Stockton was then denied a free header at goal when Banks' cross was just brushed clear by the head of White.

On the hour mark, sloppy defending gave Khan a golden opportunity to put Mansfield ahead but his weak shot was straight at Davies.

Rovers' stopper Davies then held a free kick from namesake Craig, as Town halted the flow of Tranmere attacks.

A great ball over the top from Banks found Norwood who tried to put substitute Dylan Mottley-Henry in, but his touch was poor and the move broke down.

The Stags' big moment came when Tranmere were denied a handball appeal allowing the visitors to counter but Walker somehow shot wide when it looked easier to score.

But in the closing stages Rovers pushed for a winner.

Norwood saw a low drive pushed around the post before Manny Monthe's header from Banks' cross was diverted over the bar.

The brilliant Banks ballooned a free kick over with the last kick of the game but a point apiece was a fair result against a decent Mansfield outfit.

Rovers' boss Micky Mellon said afterwards: "It was a very good game of football.

"We're looking for a measurement of where we're at and we knew that the Swindon and tonight's game would possibly show us where we are in the pecking order in terms of the division.

"To come out and play the way we did, with the tempo that we did for the whole game was terrific.

"Did anyone team really deserve to lose in a game like that?

"A good sportsman would probably say that it would be harsh on either one.

"I think we shaded it second half.

"We were certainly the one on the front foot but they had a chance when we slipped and they had a one-v-one with Scotty, but all in all we represented the fans properly and played some terrific football.

"We probably shaded it in a really good game but credit to both sets of players."

Match stats:

Tranmere: Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Ellis, Monthe, Smith (Mottley-Henry 70), McCulloch, Banks, Norwood, Stockton

Subs not used: George, Tollitt, Mullin, Gilmour, Cole, Spellman

Man of the match: Ollie Banks (Tranmere midfielder)

Attendance: 5,466