Mansfield Town 3 - 0 Grays Athletic
Barker 11, 41 (pen), Birchall 75
by Martin Shaw
Mansfield Town progressed to Round 3 of the FA Cup at Field Mill tonight against Conference leaders Grays Athletic. Barker scored an early goal with a fine header, then Grays were unlucky to be reduced to 10 men, before the Stags were awarded a lucky penalty just before half time, which Barker converted. Birchall added a third after 75 minutes. The Stags played reasonably well in front of the live Sky TV cameras but have played better this season and lost.
It was also a night when a large banner saying "Haslam Pay the money back NOW!!!" was very prominent in front of the TV cameras.
Another banner saying "Keith 'Loadsamoney' Haslam pay back your loans now" was also clearly seen on TV until stewards forcibly wrestled it from the protestors.
Stagsnet Man of the match: Adam Rundle
Official Man of the match: Richie Barker
Mansfield 3-0 Grays
Richard Barker scored two first-half goals as League Two strugglers Mansfield sent non-league Grays Athletic spinning out of the FA Cup.
Barker found the net with a header on 13 minutes and made it 2-0 against the Conference leaders with a twice-taken penalty three minutes before the break.
Grays were down to 10 men on 15 minutes when right-back Andy Sambrook was sent off for a foul on Adam Rundle.
Adam Birchall sealed the victory on 76 minutes with a header from a corner.
FA joy as Stags beat Grays 3-0
TWO controversial decisions in their favour and two more Richie Barker goals ensured Stags reached the prestigious third round of the FA Cup after beating Conference leaders Grays Athletic 3-0 at Field Mill tonight.
With wealthy Grays losing only once all season and just five places behind Stags in real terms, the Sky TV cameras and much of the watching nation were willing the FA Trophy holders to pull off an upset.
But a controversial early sending-off was a blow to Grays and, when already 1-0 ahead, referee Trevor Kettle gave Stags a contentious penalty, the non-League high-flyers must have known it wasn't going to be their night.
After sending Stags through to the second round with a brace of late goals at Rotherham in round one, Barker was again the man for the big occasion as he bagged two first half goals to give Stags a comfortable cushion. That also took his season tally to 13 – lucky for Mansfield.
The plucky 10 men had to give it a go after the break – and give it a go they did.
But Stags defended solidly and, after having a goal disallowed, Adam Birchall's 76th minute header did count to mark his 21st birthday in style.
But much of the post-match talk was on the two decisions by Mr Kettle.
Andy Sambrook was immediately shown a red card for his nasty tackle on Adam Rundle after only 14 minutes.
The ball had gone past him as he flew in to take out the Stags winger.
With it being such a big occasion and that being the first real tackle of note, it was a huge decision not to show him yellow.
But Mr Kettle's record of 83 yellow cards and seven reds before this game suggested he stood no nonsense and he deemed the tackle bad enough to give Sambrook his marching orders.
More controversy was to come when a penalty was awarded on 39 minutes as Birchall crumbled under the incoming shoulder of Stuart Thurgood.
Grays thought Birchall went down too easily but again Mr Kettle decided in Mansfield's favour and Barker showed nerves of steel to twice put away the penalty after his first success was disallowed for encroachment.
Delighted Mansfield boss Peter Shirtliff said: "All in all it was a pleasing display and the players worked very hard for it.
"Looking at the score, it sounds a lot easier than it was on the night.
"Grays are a very good side with some good players, technically, and they have a lot of pace. They are positive and it's no surprise to me that they are top of the Conference.
"Obviously the sending-off changed the game as they always do. Whether it was justified or not is another matter. I've seen them given and I've seen them not given and I would like to see it again on TV before making my mind up.
"I actually think the red card hindered us more than them for a while as we were just starting to get some fluency in our play and that seemed to put the brake on it.
"I am not sure if it was a penalty. We got the breaks but we worked hard to earn them."
Grays manager Mark Stimson added: "I was very proud of my players and the way they stuck to their football. Throughout they did well, but we didn't trouble their keeper enough.
"We stayed positive, even after the sending-off and at times you couldn't tell we were playing with 10 men.
"I was very disappointed with the sending-off. It could have just been a yellow and it was a big decision to make that early in the game.
"I also thought the penalty decision was very harsh, it looked like just a shoulder charge to me.
Stags made two changes with Peers dropped to the bench and on-loan D'Laryea left out to avoid being cup-tied.
Simon Brown again missed out with his hamstring injury while Gus Uhlenbeek sat out the last of his three-game suspension.
Russell came in for a full debut up front while Jelleyman was restored to left back after completing his three-match ban.
Hjelde was well wide with a header from an early Dawson cross.
And Pressman was comfortably behind a 25-yard effort from Kightly in a tit for tat opening.
Barker set up Birchall for a low shot wide from outside the box on seven minutes.
Coke also tried a hopeful shot which deflected wide for the first of two corners. And from the second on 12 minutes Stags broke through.
Grays failed to clear the corner and, amid the melee, Rundle's attempted volley bounced up towards Barker who buried a superb close range header which Bayes couldn't keep out.
Grays' night worsened two minutes later when they had Sambrook dismissed. He hacked down Rundle as he tried to go past him on the halfway line and referee Mr Kettle had no hesitation in brandishing a straight red.
Grays almost carved an equaliser out of nowhere on 24 minutes. Thurgood rolled the ball to Martin 20 yards out and his low curling shot came back off Pressman's right hand post before Nutter blazed the rebound over.
Another free kick from a similar position this time saw Martin blast well over three minutes later.
Pressman required treatment 10 minutes from the break after going down at the feet of Oli.
Good footwork by Birchall saw him go between two defenders before a low shot deflected for a corner.
On 39 minutes Birchall, celebrating his 21st birthday, won Stags a spot kick. Thurgood was furious when Birchall went down under his challenge and was booked for his protests.
Barker stepped up to net the kick low to Bayes' left, but the referee ordered a retake.
Cool as a cucumber, Barker slotted the kick home in almost identical fashion and Stags finally had a cushion.
Russell marked his full debut with a yellow card for a foul on Matthews before Dawson warmed Bayes' hands from long range in first half stoppage time.
Hooper replaced Kightly for the second half as the visitors went all out to get back into the contest, despite being a man short.
Stags comfortably defended an early Grays free kick into the box.
At the other end Russell chested a high ball down but Coke, off balance, lashed well over.
Grays had a let-off on 50 minutes when a poor kick from Bayes to the left of his box offered Barker a 25 yard punt at an empty net but he couldn't guide it on target.
Then Angus did well to halt Barker as Birchall tried to send him clear.
Russell almost poached his first goal for Mansfield on the hour as he beat Bayes to the ball but the ball span out past the open net for a corner. And, when that came over, Barker sent a firm header over from seven yards.
Mansfield came close again on 67 as Buxton's ball into the box found Russell and he turned sharply before shooting over.
Another promising Stags move ended with Barker over-hitting his final ball to Dawson.
Another poor final ball from Barker saw his pass cut out when it might have released Russell.
And on 70 minutes Mansfield frustration increased as Birchall had a goal ruled out for offside as he turned the loose ball home following Bayes' save from Coke's excellent 20 yard shot.
Pressman had to be alert to stop Nutter squeezing a powerful shot between him and his near post. And the keeper then had to get behind Martin's 25 yard free kick.
A Stags break from a Grays corner saw Rundle feed Birchall. And his reverse pass sent Coke into space in the box to force Bayes to save with his legs.
The killer third goal finally came on 76 minutes as Birchall headed home from a Rundle corner from the right.
Coke turned a low shot just wide from Barker's pass before Barker headed another Rundle corner over as Stags rubbed in their superiority.
And Barker was well wide near the end after a superb through ball from Dawson.
In time added on Grays twice came close to finally opening their account as both Thurgood and Slabber fired just wide.
But Stags preserved a deserved clean sheet to book an FA Cup third round spot for the first time since that defeat at Leicester City during the promotion season in 2001/02.
The result also delays the return of Keith Curle to Field Mill as Stags were due to face Chester City on 7th January – Third Round day.