It was a day of firsts as Brentford opened the new season with a 1-1 draw against Mansfield Town in an entertaining game at a sun-drenched Griffin Park on Saturday, writes Simon Webster.

The Bees kicked off with eight players making their debuts, including two late loan signings - Reading goalkeeper Ben Hamer, preferred to Clark Masters to deputise for the injured Simon Brown, and Chelsea centre-half Adrian Pettigrew. Ironically, unused subs Masters and Matt Heywood have more league experience than Hamer and Pettigrew.

Manager Terry Butcher obviously felt his gamble paid off. He said: "Ben was fantastic and Adrian, who did well here for Chelsea, is a good centre-half.

"It is a major gamble when you put such young players in there, with so many loanees. There were lots of positives, though.

"Clark Masters played games last season, but he's still got a lot to learn. Ben played for Crawley last season and he did well today.

"We played some good football, but life in League Two is sometimes about dealing with the opposition and what they throw at you. You could see when Mansfield's goal went in that the confidence drained from our players. They are mainly youngsters learning about playing together and about League Two. We didn't lose the game and that is a positive."

Brentford's young side - many of whom were getting their first taste of senior league football - opened positively in front of the newly christened Bill Axbey Stand and the now covered Ealing Road terrace.

After only a quarter of an hour their hard work paid off following a corner on the left hand side. After a Grant Basey shot was blocked Alan Connell, signed from Hereford during the summer, reacted quickest and fired home a shot on the turn from ten yards out.

But Mansfield restored parity nine minutes later when Michael Boulding picked up the ball in central midfield and hit a fierce shot from 25 yards out that sailed over Hamer into the top corner of the net.

As the second-half began, Butcher introduced Paul Brooker wide on the right in place of Glenn Poole and, although the veteran winger saw enough of the ball, he was unable to create many chances for the diminutive front paring of Connell and Charlie Ide.

It became real end-to-end stuff as both sides strived to grab the winner. Mansfield, in particular, had several chances but could not find a way past the impressive young Hamer.

Hamer twice thwarted Boulding, once from a one-on-one situation and again by pulling off a fine diving save to push the ball out for a corner from Boulding's header. Boulding went even closer when he was foiled by the post as Brentford rode their luck.

At the other end the Bees had two penalty claims turned down as referee Penn waved away claims from Ide and Pettigrew.

Butcher was happy enough at the final whistle as he prepared for Tuesday's midweek Carling Cup tie at home to Bristol City: Brentford: Hamer, Starosta, Mackie, Pettigrew, Basey; Poole (Brooker, h/t), O'Connor, Mousinho (Smith, 90mins), Moore; Connell (Peters, 79mins), Ide. Subs (not used): Masters, Heywood. Att: 4909.

* Brentford striker Lee Thorpe will still be ruled out by suspension for Saturday's league visit to Notts County.