A controversial hand-ball goal from substitute Luis Suarez proved the only difference yesterday as Mansfield Town stood toe to tow with seven time FA Cup winners Liverpool at the One Call Stadium.
Stags put in a performance to be proud of on a day where over 7,000 people filled the One Call Stadium hoping to see an FA Cup giant killing - the 2-1 scoreline doesn't tell the full story and I doubt the greatest writer in all the land would be able too either, the truth is - despite the millions of pounds worth of talent in the Liverpool squad, the Premier League giants were hanging on for deer life and only scraped through to round four, where they face an away trip to Oldham.
Naturally it was Liverpool who started the brightest, debutant Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a first time finish on eight minutes following a sublime pass from Jonjo Shelvey, however Stags enjoyed their share of the chances and at the break, were only one behind.
The second half saw Liverpool on the ropes as Mansfield pushed and pushed in search of a leveler, Brendan Rogers through on Jordan Henderson and Luis Suarez to help dig Liverpool out of lumber, the latter doing so on 58 minutes, his initial shot was well saved by Marriott before Liverpools talented hit man controlled with his hand and stroked into the empty net.
Despite the hammer blow Stags still fought and were rewarded twenty minutes later, Matt Green drove home through the crowd after Lindon Meikle's pull back - Liverpool clung on and in truth, should have been facing an Anfield Replay, keeper Brad Jones pulled off two excellent saves to keep the Reds in the game, the clock against Stags and eventually, Liverpool squeezed through.
HIGHLIGHTS (With Craig Priest & Stephen Thrikill)
Louis Briscoe's reputation of scoring season changing goals continued last night as his second half strike proved the eventual difference as Stags defeated Lincoln City 2-1 to set up an FA Cup third round home tie with Premier League giants Liverpool on January 6th.
On an evening no one will ever forget at the One Call Stadium the Stags put in a belief filled performance to meet expectation and win the grand third round prize, the full time whistles of togetherness and pride warming the heart and soul on what was in truth a bitterly cold Decembers night.
Stags remained unchanged from the side which defeated Ebbsfleet four days prior and got off to a strong start, John Dempster's looping header following a Clements free kick on 13 minutes opened the scoring before Imps keeper Paul Farman pulled off two stunning reaction saves to deby Hutchinson and Green from close range before Ex-Stag Adam Smith beat the offside trap to level the match with an acute lob five minutes before half time.
It's fair to credit the Imps with the majority of the pressure in the second half once Farman had denied Dempster, however Stags defended well enough to see off the pressure and played the waiting game to perfection on 76 minutes, Clements finding Howell inside the box before he squared to Louis Briscoe who fired home from 10 yards.
Mansfield were pressured as Lincoln desperately sought a leveler and extra time however it didn't come, the full time whistle sparking a pitch invasion from Stags' delighted crowd, plus air punches and huge smiles, the Stags had sealed the prize.
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Substitute Matt Rhead was Mansfield's hero yesterday afternoon as his goal three minutes into injury time earned the Stags a deserved replay against fellow conference side Lincoln City.
It was a majorly improved display from Tuesday's midweek Trophy exit at Matlock, Paul Cox made eight changes to re-field the side which seemed solid weeks ago. Those changes included re-introducing Matt Green who rewarded Cox's faith, rounding Paul Farman before slotting home with twenty minutes played.
After numerous chances and a big piece of misfortune Lincoln then pulled level with a well hit free kick on the stroke of half time, a minute after the break Jamie Taylor pounced to put Lincoln ahead. Mansfield never gave up and leveled through Louis Briscoe, his wonder strike on 52 minutes a contender for goal of the round.
Lincoln were dangerous on the counter all afternoon and again grabbed the lead on 65 minutes, Alan Power grabbing his second of the match as Stags faield to track back following a Geohaghon throw at the other end.
It looked as though Mansfield were heading for the exit, however Matt Rhead had other ideas and nodded level in the third of four added from Briscoe's cross - a deserved goal in what was an excellent encounter, the sides go again a week on Tuesday to see who progresses to Round Three.
Shane Redmond emerged with heroic status last night as a man of the match performance from the Irish Gloves-Man included a vital save in the penalty shootout, with Stags eventually overcoming minnowers Slough 4-1 in the great football lottery.
The Stags enjoyed an excellent first half and should have been at least three up, Nick Wright denied what looked a blatant penalty on 22 at first view before James Warrington kept out two excellent efforts from Louis Briscoe in as many minutes. Stags needed a helping hand from the livley hosts, Dave Woosley credited with the final touch on the stroke of half time as he diverted Lee Beevers' cross into his own net under immense pressure from the dominant Geohaghon, the centre half beaten narrowly to the Man Of the Match award.
Slough upped there game in the second half whilst Mansfield emerged a shadow of their dominant first half selves, Louis Briscoe was one of many to distribute poorly throughout the second half. The hosts leveled on 65 minutes when Stuart Swift sent a thunderous free kick crashing against the bar, Mansfield failed to react at Nathan Bowden-Hasse nodded home to the delight of the home support.
Danny Burnell should have put Slough ahead minutes later as Stags fell to peices, however late on improved and saw Substitute Jake Speight go close twice before the match headed into extra time.
Both tired and created little in the first 15 minutes, the second was a very headed different story - Geohaghon and Bowden-Hasse both getting booked for flailing arms on 109 before premier league referee Andy D'Urso remarkable showed Stags skipper John Dempster a straight red card three minutes later. Dempster grabbing hold of a private area after taking a clear on the DVD elbow to the face which went unpunished.
With ten men Mansfield hung on and shootout was needed, Exodus Geohaghon winning the toss for Mansfield who succsesfully converted all four of their spot kicks via the boot of Clements, Briscoe, Rhead and Speight - the later netting the winning penalty. Slough had less luck, netting their first before Shane Redmond expertly turned away a well hit spot kick from Ollie Burgess - Sean Sonner blazed over the Rebels third making it fairly easy for Speight to finish the job from 12 yards.
Both myself and fellow broadcasters all suffered internet failure in extra time and for penalty's - myself and Martin Shaw have audio recorded bar the majority of the first half of extra time, highlights of which you can now see below.
The match was also filmed and highlights will be available soon. We appologise for any inconveinace caused.
Extra Time Highlights (Commentary From Craig Priest & Martin Shaw)
On this page you can find a mini-report plus downloadable audio highlights after each home match, plus team & stat sheets and occasional extended or full audio