Mansfield boss Nigel Clough was proud to see his injury-ravaged side take at least a point in a goalless home draw with fellow League Two strugglers Oldham.
A serious head injury to midfielder George Maris saw the first half held up for 13 minutes before Oli Hawkins limped off at the break to become their sixth injured centre-half and leave a full 10 outfield players injured or suspended.
“We just have to fight against all the odds and adversity,” said Clough.
“To come out with a 0-0 today is not the extent of our ambition but in the circumstances today, we are very proud to come out of it not losing.”
On Maris being carried off on a stretcher after a 12th-minute clash of heads with team-mate James Clarke, Clough added: “George is sitting up in the treatment room and talking – he seems OK at the moment. But he took a hell of a whack in his head and neck area.
“I don’t think anybody minded the delay in the circumstances. It takes as long as it needs to take to make sure the player is OK.
“There is nothing we can do, the injuries are so varied and innocuous at times. Any points we can get in this period are a bonus.
“Pre-season you plan the team and squad and there is no way you can legislate for losing so many, especially in one position.”
Stags – now without a win in 11 games in all competitions – started well, but after losing Maris, they were forced back and Harrison McGahey fired against a post after 40 minutes, while Nathan Bishop had to make late saves from Carl Piergianni and Zak Dearnley.
After the break the home side went up a gear and Harry Charsley twice forced Jayson Leutwiler to make saves and Rhys Oates also went close in a half of few chances.
Oldham boss Keith Curle said: “It’s a third clean sheet in four so it’s a starting point and shows me that we are trying to build a foundation whereby we are difficult to beat.
“That’s not bad as clean sheets were at a premium last season.
“We are creating opportunities too so that and not conceding is not a bad starting point.
“We needed to make sure we had a game plan and it took us 15-20 minutes for the players to feel comfortable within in and I thought we finished the half very well.
“With the quality Mansfield have got, even with the number of players they have missing, they are going to put you under pressure. So the first 15 to 20 minutes was no surprise to us.
“Once we settled I thought we dominated and had the best chances in the first half with the second half much more even.”