ALL SQUARE IN CUP THRILLER
FA Trophy Round 3
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Alfreton Town
Connor 46. Arnold 45+2
Attendance: 3408 (928 from Alfreton)
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill
Mansfield Town and Alfreton Town produced a classic cup tie in dreadful conditions at Field Mill this afternoon in a game which had nearly everything. Heavy rain made the pitch heavy and unpredictable. Alfreton arrived at Field Mill for their first ever competitive game against the Stags, with a perfect away record in Blue Square North and FA Trophy this season having won every away game. The game started with a cracking atmosphere but the home fans were soon quiet when Kevin Sandwith was sent off for a foul on just 12 minutes when he was the last man. It was an uphill battle for half an hour but Alfreton's Darren Stride was also sent off on 41 minutes for a similar foul, to even the numbers up. Former Stag Nathan Arnold put Alfreton ahead in stoppage time at the end of the half, but the Stags equalised in the first minute of the second half with a close range header from Paul Connor from Ashley Cain's cross. After that, either side could have won it in a real ding-dong battle. In the end, both sides had to settle for a replay at Alfreton on Tuesday night, with a place in the last 8 at stake. With the cup draw on Monday lunchtime, both teams will already know their potential opponents by then.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre.
Mansfield Town 1 Alfreton 1, FA Trophy Round 3, Saturday 5th February
LOCAL rivals Mansfield Town and Alfreton Town must try again at the Impact Arena on Tuesday night after a tense but thrilling 1-1 FA Trophy third round draw with a red card for both sides and chances-a-plenty in the Field Mill mud and rain this afternoon, reports John Lomas.
With a noisy backing of 928 from Conference North Alfreton, the high-flying Reds drew first blood in this first ever competitive clash between the neighbouring clubs from either side of the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border as former Stags winger Nathan Arnold put them ahead in first half stoppage time.
By this time Stags had seen Kevin Sandwith sent off for a foul as last man on 13 minutes, though it was down to a slip on the wet surface, and the sides then evened up with Darren Stride's 41st minute red card for the same offence.
Stags' new front pairing of Paul O'Connor and on-loan Stoke City youngster Louis Moult gelled eyecatchingly well, though both wasted good first half chances.
But Connor grabbed the all-important equaliser two minutes after the break with a close range header, his 14th of the campaign, and the home side had the edge without being able to find a winner.
For Alfreton it continued their superb unbeaten away record for the season, having won all seven away league games, and guaranteed a big crowd for Tuesday's replay.
In dreadful conditions with wind and rain, Stags defended an early Alfreton corner, won by Arnold on the right.
Connor was furious after not getting free kicks for shirt-pulling by Hall though soon after Hall was spoken to as he did it again.
Arnold almost drew first blood on a seventh minute break, the former Stags winger beating last man Sandwith only to be robbed by Cain as he quickly tracked back to help.
Stags then broke quickly themselves and, when Connor's through ball held up in the mud and Turner had run out to the edge of his box, it seemed new boy Moult would run past Turner and find the empty net. Instead the youngster tried a chip but was too high.
Connor headed over from a Cain corner two minutes later.
But disaster struck for the home side in an unlucky 13th minute.
A Turner clearance was helped on Clayton to chase. Sandwith seemed to get there first but seemed to slip at the last minute on the tricky surface meaning Clayton had got there first and was then taken down by Sandwith's challenge.
As last man there were no arguments and out came the red card.
It could have been even worse but Ross' free kick curled just wide of goal.
Alfreton threatened again on 16 minutes as Hearn got to the left by-line and crossed low, Arnold guiding an angled finish over off the inside of his right boot from five yards.
Connor seemed to be caught by Matt Wilson wide on the right but, with nothing given, managed to get up and continue, cutting inside before rifling over.
Stags took the opportunity to reshape at this point with central defender Naylor on for winger Briscoe.
Connor might have opened the scoring on 21 minutes from a Moult knock-down on 18 yards but again was too high with his finish.
Collett dived bravely and safely to take a dipping left wing cross at the feet of Arnold.
The pitch was cutting up badly by now as the rain continued to fall and the away fans taunted Stags with a cry of 'There's only one Keith Haslam'!
We had our first shot on target on 28 minutes as Hearn out-muscled Silk and then fed Clayton for a low angled shot that Collett blocked.
The corner was cleared towards Moult whose first touch let him down and allowed Ross to let fly from 25 yards which again saw Collett well positioned.
Clayton was off target with a header from a Hall cross as the visitors continued to look menacing.
Moult was inches away from getting a far post touch from a curling Cain free kick.
Then Silk did well to head away to prevent Hearn from getting on the end of a Laurie Wilson cross as the Alfreton striker threw himself at the ball far post.
But the numbers were evened out when Stride, who had been in magnificent form, was sent off on 41 minutes.
Connor turned him and tried to go clear but was cynically hauled down and out came the red card again.
When the free kick came in from Cain, Naylor headed wide.
Collett was back in action on 43 minutes, turning a low Hearn shot round for a corner from a tight angle on the right.
As we entered three minutes of stoppage time, the Reds broke the deadlock in the second of them.
With Stags short at the back as Foster lay injured holding his face midway in the Mansfield half, Stags seemed to switch off momentarily and Clayton poked a pass to Arnold on the right who raced into the box before lifting a calm finish over Collett and into the net.
Hearn threatened in the opening seconds of the second half after a mistake by Stonehouse, but Naylor did well to get back and police him and the low finish was eventually wide.
And a minute later it was all square as Connor, inevitably, was again the hero.
Moult spun round the feed Cain down the right and his cross found Connor three yards from goal and his header bounced in off the underside of the bar.
Connor threatened to break clear on 49 minutes but was tugged back by Lawrie Wilson as he shot, the Reds man shown a yellow card, and Cain unable to beat Turner with the free kick, the keeper saving comfortably.
Collett punched away an Alfeton corner towards Ross who missed the ball completely, kicking at fresh air, but was given a second chance and curled wide.
Ross was booked on 57 minutes for an arm across the face of Cain as he tried to race past him.
Stags almost went ahead on 61 minutes as Connor nodded down to Moult who sent Cain away. Brown stayed with him and forced him to check, but he winger looked up, tried to curl the ball round Turner and Connor stole in quickly to get in a header that Turner somehow clawed over.
At the other end Stonehouse was robbed by Hearn who, with Arnold free to his left, who chose to go alone and was crowded out.
It was the same for Mansfield as Cain ran powerfully down the centre but, with Connor better-positioned to his right, went alone and saw his low shot deflect wide.
Naylor's late tackle on Jake Moult brought another booking before Parker was sent on for the industrious Moult for the last six minutes.
But there was to be no late hero as a full-blooded contest ended all square, which was a fair reflection over the 90 minutes.
STAGS: Collett; Silk, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse; Cain, Murray, Thompson, Briscoe (Naylor 19); L. Moult (Parker 84), Connor. Subs not used: Grof, Nix, Mitchley.
ALFRETON TOWN: Turner; Hall (Dillon 82), M. Wilson, Stride, Franklin; Arnold, L. Wilson, Brown; Ross (J. Moult 65); Hearn, Clayton. Subs not used: Keane, Law.
REFEREE: Mark Heywood of Cheshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,408 (928 away).
Mansfield Town 1-1 Alfreton Town
Evening Post report
PAUL Connor's 14th goal of the season spared Mansfield Town's blushes as they fought out a hard-earned draw in a terrific FA Trophy derby against Alfreton Town.
On a rain-soaked pitch that cut up increasingly as the game went on, both sides finished the game with ten players as first Kevin Sandwith and then Darren Stride were sent off for professional fouls.
Blue Square Bet North Alfreton went in front in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when old boy Nathan Arnold came back to haunt the Stags.
But the ever-reliable Connor celebrated signing a new deal in midweek by popping up with a leveller early in the second half.
Both clubs had their chance to win it, but the two teams will now have another go on Tuesday night at the Impact Arena with a fourth-round spot at stake.
It was the visitors who threatened first when Arnold ran into space down the right and cut inside to beat Sandwith, only for the covering Ashley Cain to snuff out the danger.
Mansfield should have gone in front in the seventh minute when Connor put Louis Moult away and clear but, though his chip cleared Ross Turner, it sailed over the bar.
Soon after, the hosts won a corner that saw Connor head just too high from Cain's delivery.
The Stags suffered a major blow in the 13th minute when Sandwith was rightly sent off for a professional foul.
He slipped on the surface as he attempted to clear a Stride flick on and instead brought down Paul Clayton as the last man.
From the resulting free-kick, Ian Ross curled just wide of the left-hand upright from 20 yards with Neil Collett at full stretch.
The Reds went close again when Liam Hearn worked his way down the left to reach the byline and cross to the near post where Arnold steered over the top.
Matt Wilson was lucky to escape a caution when he appeared to scythe down Connor on the right, only for the striker to pick himself up and blast a shot on goal that never troubled Ross Turner.
Mansfield then made a substation as a result of Sandwith's dismissal when they sacrificed winger Louis Briscoe for defender Tom Naylor.
Another chance came and went for the home side when Moult teed up Connor, who curled his finish over the angle.
Alfreton were back on the attack when Hearn dispossessed Gary Silk and fed Clayton, whose low shot was beaten away by Collett.
Next to try his luck was Ross, whose powerful effort following a corner was taken by Collett at the second attempt.
Moult was putting himself about and was only inches away from getting on the end of an inviting free-kick from Cain.
As half-time approached, Silk got in a vital header from Laurie Wilson's centre to deny Hearn.
Four minutes from the break the sides were levelled up numerically after a repeat incident of the one that saw Sandwith given his marching orders.
Connor rolled Stride from a thrown-in and, as the defender tried to get back on level terms, he hauled down his man.
As last man, the referee once again brandished a red card.
Just before the interval, Naylor header wide from a Cain free-kick when well placed before Hearn's powerful drive stung the hands of Collett.
But it was the Reds who drew first blood when Clayton took advantage of Mansfield hesitancy to feed Arnold and he nutmegged Collett confidently.
No doubt buoyed by their breakthrough, Alfreton went close early on in the second period when Hearn twisted and turned to fire past the left-hand post from the edge of the box.
But two minutes into the second period, Mansfield squared things as Connor struck coolly.
The striker nodded in from close range via the underside of the bar after Cain had raced onto Moult's fine through pass into the right channel to hang up a pinpoint centre.
Cain then tried his luck direct from a free-kick but Turner held on with a degree of comfort.
Ross might have done better when he mis-kicked as Mansfield struggled to clear a corner and then drove well wide as the ball ricocheted back to him.
Moments later, Moult was unable to control another excellent cross from Cain when a shot looked on.
Just after the hour mark, Cain surged away onto Moult's pass and checked back inside to cross with his left for Connor, whose deft header was tipped over by Turner.
At the other end, Paul Stonehouse was caught in possession, but Hearn failed to spot the overlap of Arnold, who would have had a clear shot, and the opportunity was gone.
The same could have been said of Cain when he chose to go alone instead of teeing up an unmarked Connor to see his shot deflect wide.
With time running out, Foster blocked superbly in a goalmouth scramble following an Alfreton free-kick.
Mansfield introduced Keigan Parker for the tiring Moult but, in truth, neither team went really close in the dying moments.
Pulsating derby sees Stags fight back to earn a replay
Evening Post considered report
THEIR rivals' colours may have contrasted to seasons past, but this was every bit the kind of pulsating, drama-laden derby Mansfield Town fans have become accustomed to down the years.
Traditionally, the Stags have always looked forward to Football League meetings with Chesterfield and Notts County to enjoy the fight for bragging rights.
It is a sad indictment of how far the club has fallen that nowadays a top-end non-league battle against Alfreton is the best those of an amber and blue persuasion can hope for.
Yet if the Reds do win promotion from the Blue Square Bet North at the end of the current campaign and begin to play Mansfield regularly, few will complain if all the matches follow in the footsteps of this FA Trophy third round tie.
It's true to say the football on offer was not of the highest order. There was no way it could have been given the driving wind, swirling rain and the way the Field Mill playing surface cut up significantly.
But no-one present could deny it did not make for compelling viewing from first whistle until last.
Alfreton showed why they have lost just one league game this season – and have yet to be beaten on their travels.
They are a club who has built a sound infrastructure in moving through the pyramid system and have an astute manager in Nicky Law.
Not just that, but in Liam Hearn and Paul Clayton they have a strike force who would not look at all out of place at a higher level.
For their part, Mansfield were just as determined not to be the victims of a perceived upset.
The result was a match that flowed from end to end but deservedly ended level, not just in goals but in terms of numbers left on the pitch.
The ten v ten situation merely made the game even more open, where both sides had their chances to win it, but neither could take them.
The Stags, like Alfreton, could well do without a replay to further clog up an already hectic fixture list.
But they will take that over going out of a competition they could realistic win with so many highly-ranked teams already out. It could be said that with their play-off hopes hanging by a thread, it is Mansfield's last chance of grabbing glory this season.
Perhaps the biggest positives the hosts could draw from their stern examination was the performance of two teenagers.
Tom Naylor came on soon after Kevin Sandwith had received his marching orders and did a sterling job at the heart of the defence alongside Steve Foster. Just as impressive, maybe even more was the debut of Louis Moult, drafted in just a matter of days before on loan from Stoke City.
It would have been easy for the young striker to complain about the weather and some of the rough treatment he was dished out.
Instead, he realised this was not the Premier League, ran himself into the ground and duly received a hearty ovation when he was substituted.
It's already obvious to see that he has the making of an excellent strike partnership with mainstay Paul Connor. It may be early days, just one game, but some of the link up play the two produced was top drawer.
The only blemish for Moult – whose brother Jake came on for Alfreton in the second half – was an early miss that would have got his first game in a Mansfield shirt off to the perfect start.
He was put clear on goal by Paul Connor, only to lob over the top when he might have been better advised to go around advancing keeper Ross Turner.
That was the first serious opening for either side, but certainly not the last, as Moult was the only change for the hosts.
The 13th minute proved unlucky for Sandwith as the referee had no option but to show a red card for scything down Clayton when he was the last man.
From the free-kick, Ian Ross curled just wide before Stags old boy Nathan Arnold also went close. At the other end, Connor should have scored when he drove over the angle following Moult's approach work.
The numbers were evened up when Darren Stride committed a similar foul to that of Sandwith, just when Connor was breaking clear.
Far from demoralising Alfreton, though, they went in front in the second minute of first half stoppage time when Clayton took advantage of Mansfield hesitancy to feed Arnold, whose finish was blocked by Neil Collett but hit the winger and flew back into the net.
Mansfield's response after the restart was immediate as Moult picked out Ashley Cain on the right and his excellent cross was nodded home via the underside of the bar by Connor.
And it was the 14-goal hitman who went closest to a Stags winner when his close-range header was turned over at close quarters by Turner, again from Cain's ball in.
Both teams had two-on-one breaks in the closing stages but neither Alfreton's Hearn nor Mansfield's Cain picked the right option to take advantage.
Next stop the Impact Arena tomorrow night.
Match facts: Mansfield Town v Alfreton Town
Mansfield: Collett, Silk, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse, Cain, Thompson, Murray, Briscoe (Naylor 19), Connor, L. Moult (Parker 84). Subs not used: Mitchley, Nix, Grof.
Alfreton: Turner, Ross (J. Moult 65), M. Wilson, Stride, Franklin, Hall (Dillon 82), Brown, L. Wilson, Arnold, Clayton, Hearn. Subs not used: Keane, Law.
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire).
Attendance: 3,408 (928 visitors).
Goals: Mansfield: Connor (47). Alfreton: Arnold (45+2).
Shots on target: Mansfield 4 Alfreton 4.
Shots off target: Mansfield 6 Alfreton 6.
Fouls: Mansfield 8 Alfreton 14.
Corners: Mansfield 8 Alfreton 9.
Offsides: Mansfield 3 Alfreton 4
Bookings: Mansfield 1 (Naylor, 83, foul on J. Moult) Alfreton 2 (Wilson, 49, foul on Connor; Ross, 57, foul on Cain).
Sendings off: Mansfield 1 (Sandwith, 13, professional foul) Alfreton 1 (Stride, 41, professional foul).
Mansfield's man of the match: Paul Connor. Celebrated his new contract, signed in midweek, with another stellar display as well as his 14th goal of the season. Linked up well with hard-working new boy Louis Moult
Alfreton force Trophy replay in close tie of two goals and two red cards
ONE goal each, just before and just after half-time, ensured that Alfreton Town's FA Trophy third round tie with Mansfield Town is destined for a replay at the Impact Arena tomorrow.
Former Stags player Nathan Arnold gave Alfreton the lead when he turned in Paul Clayton's pass from a tight angle but Mansfield were level soon after the break through Paul Connor with a close-range header off the underside of the bar from an Ashley Cain cross.
The Field Mill pitch quickly deteriorated into a quagmire as persistent rain fell throughout the 90 minutes but both sides contributed to an exciting tie despite each having key players sent off in the first half.
Mansfield's Kevin Sandwith was first to receive a red card in the 13th minute when he brought Clayton down just outside the area with the Alfreton striker through on goal.
But Alfreton skipper Darren Stride followed four minutes before the interval when he brought down Connor as he looked to get through on goal.
However, the incident was wide on the left, leaving the Reds to feel it may not have warranted a dismissal.
Mansfield made a clear chance in the seventh minute when Louis Moult, on his debut, chipped over.
Connor headed over from a corner two minutes later but Arnold side-footed a good chance over for Alfreton in the 16th minute from Liam Hearn's cross.
Five minutes later, Connor blazed over from the edge of the area with the Reds' back four stretched.
Home keeper Neil Collett had to save Clayton's 28th-minute shot with his legs after Hearn dispossessed Gary Silk.
After 43 minutes, Hearn's angled drive had to be turned behind by Collett.
Turner produced an outstanding save in the 61st minute, tipping over Cain's blistering drive at full stretch, to keep the scores level.
Another strong run by Cain after 64 minutes, riding an Ian Ross tackle, had Alfreton stretched again but Matt Wilson just managed to block as Cain fired at goal to given away a corner.
Collett saved the day again for the Stags four minutes from time, intervening in the nick of time as Clayton played Hearn through.
In added time, Clayton's stifled shot from Hearn's pass was much easier to deal with for the keeper.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Collett, Silk, Sandwith, Foster, Briscoe (Naylor, 19), Thompson, L Moult (Parker, 84), Stonehouse, Connor, Cain, Murray. Other subs: Grof, Nix, Michley.
ALFRETON TOWN: Turner, J Hall (Dillon, 82), Franklin, M Wilson, Stride, Ross (J Moult 65), L Wilson, Brown, Clayton, Hearn, Arnold. Other subs: Keane, Law.
REFEREE: M Heywood (Cheshire).
ATTENDANCE: 3,408 (928 away fans).
Reds emerge with draw and their heads held high
FA Trophy, third round
Mansfield Town 1 Alfreton Town 1
Alfreton Town em-erged from their massive third round FA Trophy tie at Mansfield Town last Saturday with their heads held high after an exhausting battle on the Field Mill mudbath.
Both sides had a man sent off but fought out an entertaining tie despite high winds and strength-sapping, continuous rain.
Desperately short of key players with Aden Flint departed, Josh Law injured, Anthony Howell suspended and regular keeper Paddy Gamble ill Alfreton did particularly well to maintain their unbeaten away record which was extended to an incredible ten games, and the Reds certainly earned a second crack at the tie despite an ever-increasing backlog of league fixtures.
The significant away support with 928 in the allocated end, and several other Reds' fans dotted around the ground, helped Mansfield to record their highest gate of the season, and the volume of noise when former Stag Nathan Arnold gave Alfreton the lead in the second minute of first-half added time was deafening.
The goal stemmed from Paul Clayton's determination in forcing the ball out to Arnold on the right, and his low drive was enough to beat keeper Neil Collett from a very tight angle.
Mansfield though were on level terms just 90 seconds into the second half when Ashley Cain's cross allowed Paul Connor to head home off the underside of the crossbar from barely a yard out.
Alfreton had been given an encouraging boost as early as the 13th minute when Clayton's sudden injection of pace left him one-on-one with the keeper, but he was hauled down by Kevin Sandwith just outside the area and the Stags' defender was duly sent off, the move stemming from Ross Turner's long flicked-on clearance.
Both sides were down to ten men by the 41st minute though when Stride was harshly dismissed for bringing down Connor wide left, with defenders better placed to cover than had been the case with Sandwith.
The first attack of the tie saw Arnold win a corner for the Reds after just 90 seconds, but Stride glanced his header well wide from Laurie Wilson's flag-kick, then on seven minutes Ian Ross sent Arnold through only for his blocked shot to inadvertently set up a dangerous Mansfield sortie.
Jake Moult's younger brother Louis missed the chance on his debut for the hosts, opting to chip over the bar when with hindsight it may have been easier to have taken the ball around Ross Turner, who was making only his second start of the season in goal for Alfreton.
Arnold side-footed over a decent 16th minute opportunity after Connor Franklin had sent Liam Hearn away down the left flank, then back at the other end five minutes later Connor blazed high and wide from 18 yards.
Hearn dispossessed Gary Silk after the full-back had slipped on the atrocious pitch in the 28th minute, crossing for Clayton to fire in a shot that Collett stopped with his legs, then two minutes later Clayton headed over from a driven Jordan Hall cross.
A tasty cross from Cain saw former Reds' loanee Tom Naylor - on for the sacrificed Louis Briscoe - just fail to make contact at full stretch in front of goal in the 31st minute, then as the game swung yet again Silk just managed to insert a vital touch as Laurie Wilson's cross picked out Hearn seven minutes later.
Between Stride's dismissal and Arnold's goal Hearn had a strong angled drive scrambled behind for a corner by the keeper, who had been by far the busier with Turner not having a single shot to save, despite all those chances created by the Stags.
A much quieter second half saw both teams slipping and sliding as conditions deteriorated further, this typified by Hearn grinding to a halt from Arnold's pass seconds before Connor's equaliser.
At last Turner had something to do with 61 minutes on the clock, superbly tipping over from the ever-menacing Connor after a long central run at goal, then in a similar move in response moments later Hearn again found himself bogged down before being crowded out.
Ross was fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card as Connor surged past him on another run in the 64th minute, but the referee played advantage and his eventual shot was turned behind by Matt Wilson.
Collett had to react quickly as Clayton's header sent Hearn through with four minutes to go, then in the third minute of stoppage time Hearn returned the compliment but Clayton's stifled shot posed no threat.
Mansfield Town: Neil collett, Gary Silk, Kevin Sandwith, Steve Foster, Louis Briscoe (Tom Naylor 19), Tyrone Thompson, Louis Moult (Keigan Parker 84), Paul Stonehouse, Paul Connor, Ashley Cain, Adam Murray (c).
Substitutes not used: David Grof (GK), Kyle Nix, Danny Mitchley.
Alfreton Town: 1 Ross Turner, 2 Jordan Hall (Dan Dillon 82), 3 Connor Franklin, 4 Matt Wilson, 5 Darren Stride (c), 6 Ian Ross (Jake Moult 65), 7 Laurie Wilson, 8 Anton Brown, 9 Paul Clayton, 10 Liam Hearn, 11 Nathan Arnold.
Substitutes not used: Kallum Keane, Josh Law.
Referee: Mark Heywood of Cheshire. Attendance: 3,408 (928 from Alfreton).
Goals: Mansfield Town - Paul Connor (47). Alfreton Town - Nathan Arnold (45+2).
Cautions: Mansfield Town - TomNaylor (83, foul on Jake Moult). Alfreton Town - Matt Wilson (49, foul on Paul Connor); Ian Ross (obstruction 57); .
Sent off: Mansfield Town - Kevin Sandwith (pro foul on Paul Clayton 13). Alfreton Town - Darren Stride (pro foul on Paul Connor, 41).
Reds man of the match: Nathan Arnold.
Latest | February 2011