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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
FA Trophy Round 3
Mansfield Town  
1 - 1
 Alfreton Town
Connor 46
 Arnold 45+2
Attendance: 3408 (928 from Alfreton)
Date: 5 February 2011

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.

Mansfield made one change from the side that lost to Wrexham last week, with new loan signing Louis Moult replacing Mitchley. Alfreton were without former Stag Paddy Gamble in goal and suspended midfielder Anthony Howell. But Nathan Arnold was on the wing, and the visitors boasted a strike force as potent as most in the BSP with Clayton and Hearn up front, having scored 29 goals between them this season. Alfreton also had Louis Moult’s brother, Jake, on the bench, and he was to come on in the last 25 minutes.

The Stags had a glorious chance to take the lead on 7 minutes. Connor’s ball forward stuck in the mud and allowed Moult to get there before the keeper, but with the just the keeper to beat, Moult elected to chip over him and chipped over the bar, when he should have taken it round the keeper. Inexperience from the young striker. On 9 minutes, a good corner from Cain and Connor headed over.

Disaster struck on 12 minutes. Clayton was charging at goal and Sandwith was the last defender as he brought him down. There could be no complaints at the foul and straight red card. 78 minutes to go on a heavy surface with a man down. Catastrophic.

Ian Ross took the resulting free kick which was just past the left post. Silk went to centre half and Cain to right back. Surely Naylor would come on??

On 16 minutes, a Hearn cross from the left and Arnold fired over from a tight angle.

On 18 minutes, Connor made a run down the right, was clearly fouled but the referee gave no foul, waved play on, and Connor managed to play on, cut inside and fire over the bar. It was a terrible decision in a series of fouls that the referee missed on Paul Connor.

Finally Duncan Russell brought on Naylor on 18 minutes. Quite why he waited 6 minutes was inexplicable. Someone had to be sacrificed, and it was Briscoe, to boos from many home fans. But what other realistic option did he have, apart from Cain? The Stags went to a 4-3-2 formation with no left sided midfielder.

On 20 minutes, Connor got himself into a shooting position on the edge of the box with only the keeper to beat from Moult’s knock-down, but curled it high and wide. A minute later, Collett made a brave save at the feet of Arnold.

On 27 minutes, Hearn got past Silk with ease and his low shot was saved with his legs by Collett. A minute later, Franklin shot from 30 yards, and it was straight at Collett. On 31 minutes, Cain’s free kick was curled in from 35 yards and it just needed a touch from anyone, but missed everyone and was just past the post. Alfreton switched to 4-3-3 at this point.

On 38 minutes, a great ball in from Laurie Wilson and a great header away by Silk for a corner, with Hearn lurking. Great defending from Silk.

The crucial moment of the game came on 41 minutes. Connor got away from Darren Stride, who had pulling Connor’s shirt all game without the referee taking action. Stride pulled Connor down as he was through on goal, and the referee at last made a decision against Stride and correctly brandished the red card. The sending was celebrated like a goal being scored, at least in the commentary box.

From the resulting free kick by Cain from 20 yards, Naylor headed wide. On 43 minutes, Hearn shoyt from a tight angle and Collett made a routine save for a corner.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Alfreton were ahead. Foster seemed to receive a foul in the face and went down injured, but the referee let play continue and as Stags defence stood still, Clayton poked a pass to Arnold on the right who raced into the box and got to the ball just before Collett who was on the ground trying to claim it, and Arnold clipped it over him and into the net as time seemed to stand still.

The end to an extraordinary half.

Half time 0-1

A minute into the second half, Hearn was nearly through after a mistake by Stonehouse, but Naylor did well to hold him off and eventually Hearn shot well wide.

And within seconds the Stags were level. Cain got the ball on the right from Moult, and easily outpaced Anton Brown to cross from the byeline, perfectly for Connor to head in off the underside of the bar.

Connor seemed to be through on goal despite being fouled on 49 minutes, and shot wide from a good position, but the referee brought it back for the foul. Cain’s free kick was a dolly straight into the keeper’s arms.

A comedy moment on 52 minutes, as Collett punched away an Alfreton corner out to the edge of the box and Ross kicked at fresh air as the ball kept low.

A great chance for the Stags on 61 minutes as Cain made progress down the right, cut back inside and curled the ball goalwards, Connor managed to get a head on it and it landed on the roof of the net. The ref awarded a corner, but we couldn’t tell if the keeper had tipped it over. On 64 minutes, Cain made a good run down the middle in a 3-on-2 breakaway, but with players free to either side, he chose to shoot and his shot was deflected past the right post. On 69 minutes, Cain’s corner was headed over Silk.

Parker was sent on for the hard-working Moult on 84 minutes, and the young striker received a good ovation.

The last 20 minutes were huff and puff, but without clearcut chances.

And so back to the Impact Arena on Tuesday night for what promises to be another pulsating and feisty encounter. Come on Mansfield!

Man of the Match: Paul Connor

Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill

Line Up:
Collett 7 Made some good saves at the feet of opponents and a couple of other decent saves.
Silk 6 Still not back to his best.
Foster 7 Some good headers. Did well alongside Naylor.
Sandwith 5 Sent off early on.
Stonehouse 5 Distribution from the back was awful. Generally defended ok.
Cain 8 Some really good runs at the defence including good play for the goal. Too selfish occasionally.
Murray 6 OK.
Thompson 6 Distribution was poor, but made some good defensive tackles and blocks.
Briscoe - Sacrified after the sending off .
Connor 8 Took the goal well, and as always held the ball up well. Always looked dangerous.
Moult 6.5 Missed a glorious chance early on when he chipped over the bar, but worked really hard and came into the game more in the second half.
Sub Line Up:
Naylor (for Briscoe, 18) 7.5 Defended really well, and with composure. Some good runs out of defence as well. Make’s Russell’s decision to persist with Sandwith look like a poor one.
Parker (for Moult, 84) - On too late to make an impression.
Subs Not Used: Grof, Nix, Mitchley.
Opposition Line Up:
Turner; Hall (Dillon 82), M. Wilson, Stride, Franklin; Arnold, L. Wilson, Brown; Ross (J. Moult 65); Hearn, Clayton. Subs not used: Keane, Law.
Mark Heywood (Cheshire) 6 Got the sendings-off right, but missed so many other fouls, especially on Connor.

Season 10/11 Reports