Mansfield boss Nigel Clough hailed the “save of the season” by Aidan Stone to deny Forest Green hotshot Jamille Matt from close range in a thrilling 0-0 draw.
An open end-to-end game somehow ended scoreless, with Stone’s save from Matt’s chance on 58 minutes crucial as Stags more than matched title-chasing Rovers.
Clough said: “It’s funny how a 0-0 can be that good and that entertaining, but that was the only thing that was missing and I thought we were a bit unlucky not to get that goal tonight.
“I think the second half was the best we’ve played since we’ve been at the club, especially with the quality of the opposition.
“We stepped it up a gear in the second half and apart from Aidan Stone’s brilliant one-handed save, that was about all they had while we had numerous chances.
“It was probably the save of the season as goalies are usually going the other way and he had to check back and get his fingertips on it.
“We just needed a break in the penalty area. The main thing was we got a clean sheet and a point, though it should have been three with that brilliant performance.
“That was a big confidence-lifting, morale-boosting performance for the last nine games of the season.”
A breathtaking end-to-end first half ended scoreless, despite chances at both ends.
Rovers keeper Lewis Thomas then made a great double stop to deny George Maris and Jamie Reid on 50 minutes as the Stags raised their game further.
Eight minutes later Stone somehow got down to his right to scoop away Matt’s close-range header from Nicky Cadden’s pinpoint left-wing cross.
Thomas’ positioning was impeccable to prevent Jason Law netting in a 67th-minute one-on-one.
With a minute to go Thomas then had to block a Jordan Bowery shot at his near post and was grateful to see skipper Chris Stokes head the looping loose ball off the line.
“I was satisfied with the effort and the commitment, which was what I asked for and we didn’t get on Saturday,” said Rovers manager Mark Cooper.
“The boys had a right go – we just couldn’t find the finishing touch to our play.
“With Jamma’s capabilities he knows he should score. He should not have even given the keeper a chance to make a save.
“But he has won us lots of games and I am sure he will win us more in the future.
“Mansfield had a right go tonight. They beat (league leaders) Cheltenham here a couple of weeks ago so it’s a really tough place.
“The pitch was a bit bobbly but it didn’t stop both teams playing out a really good end-to-end game.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe