Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Lincoln City V Mansfield Town
Competition: The FA Cup with Budweiser, Second Round
Venue: The 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium
Date & Time: Saturday 1st December – 1pm
Match Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 4,127 (1,176)
After Tuesday night’s whimpered exit from the FA Trophy at Matlock, the one thing I wanted to see yesterday was fight – boy did we see that from Mansfield yesterday pulling back from a goal behind twice, hats off to the boys for the effort.
The important thing from the whole afternoon is we still have a stab at reaching round three and, more than anything else, we didn’t lose the game. Lincoln are the inform team as prior to last Saturday’s FA Trophy exit at Tamworth, they were ten games unbeaten – you could see why with some of the football they played yesterday.
Naturally there are some complaints Mansfield can have about the way in which they conceded, for the first goal from the free kick you have to ask why Adam Murray was so far back doing a job which should have been done by Thompson, Geohaghon or Dempster, the wall from the resulting free kick was far from solid, for me Geohaghon’s decision to pull away at the last second gave Power enough of a gap, there was nothing Redmond could do.
The second goal a minute into the second half was a poor decision from Thompson for me, there was no initial pressure from Smith and as such, the ball should have been shielded and allowed to go for a goal kick rather than the throw – the third goal was very poor defensively, if we insist on sending Geohaghon forward for those long throws then please can we prepare better defensively, his throws at the moment aren’t filling me with confidence, they’re filling me with worry we’ll get caught on the counter. Once more the important thing is you have to respond, Louis Briscoe making it 2-2 before substitute Matt Rhead headed Mansfield level again late on, great scenes to whiteness.
On reflection a draw is just about the right result, we showed the desire and fight for the cause – two traits which were evident during out 7 game unbeaten streak. The Stags should have been two maybe three ahead prior to Lincoln’s goal, a cruel twist of fate preventing Green from scoring a second six minutes after his opener, but again it’s about dealing with the elements and carrying on – with no FA Trophy game on the 15th a replay is fine as we’ll have the rest day on Saturday – bring it on.
Hopefully the result and confidence from fighting back twice will spur us onto a good result against Ebbsfleet next week; we owe them one anyway, before the Imps visit the One Call Stadium for the second time this season – hopefully round three and a big game against Liverpool awaits, wow!
Paul Cox reverted to his strongest side, the one which predominantly went on the seven game unbeaten run, however it did mean a mammoth eight changes from the midweek defeat at Matlock, Shane Redmond, John Thompson and Exodus Geohaghon the only players keeping their place in the starting eleven.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Shane Redmond, John Thompson, John Dempster, Exodus Geohaghon, Lee Beevers, Louis Briscoe, Chris Clements, Adam Murray (C), Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson, Matt Green
Substitutes: Ritchie Sutton, Luke Jones, Jake Speight, Nick Wright, Anthony Howell, Matt Rhead, Lee Stevenson
There were few chances in the opening fifteen minutes as the late lunch time kick off at Sincil Bank endured a bland start, however on 15 minutes former Stag Adam Smith nearly haunted his former employers with a shot which was narrowly wide, two minutes John Thompson was exceedingly lucky to remain on the pitch, his harsh challenge on Peter Gilbert earning just a yellow card.
On 19 minutes Lee Beevers left sided throw following a Meikle drive saw the Stags come agonisingly close, Beevers second ball cross saw Green rise high before glancing a header wide of Farman’s goal. From the resulting goal kick Mansfield did grab the lead, Adam Murray with a well weighted pass forward before Green burst forward to nip the ball beyond the advancing Farman and tuck into the empty net.
Six minutes later there was nearly a carbon copy of the goal as a ball down the left channel saw Green again beat Farman to the free ball, the Imps shot stopper was rounded with ease and the ball stroked towards goal, a divert in the ground seeing the ball bounce the wrong side of the post and away for a goal kick.
The Stags were in firm control and should have added another as numerous set plays troubled the imps however five minutes from half time Alan Power’s long range free kick nearly caught the Stags adrift, Shane Redmond though was on hand to keep out the effort.
Five minutes later Adam Murray committed a foul on the edge of the area as he covered for Mansfield’s absent defenders, the resulting free kick from Power squeezed through a suspicious gap in the wall to beat Redmond who could do little to keep out the well hit effort.
At 1-1 at the break there were little complaints about the score line, however two minutes into the second half the Imps turned the game on its head and grabbed a second. John Thompson was perhaps guilty as he conceded a needless throw, Shane Redmond did pull off a neat save to deny Andrew Boyce but as the ball came back into the box, he could do nothing to deny Jamie Taylor who tucked home the second ball.
Mansfield didn’t dwell on going behind and pulled level just five minutes later they pulled level in empathic fashion. Chris Clements delivered the perfect free kick into the mix which Lincoln headed away, Louis Briscoe on hand to thunder in a beautiful left footed half volley thanks to Dempster, whose run created space for Briscoe as the centre half took two markers with him.
Alan Power again came close for Lincoln with a free kick on 63 minutes; a Stags throw on 65 though did provide the catalyst for another Lincoln goal as they again failed to track back from a big Ex throw. Jamie Taylor covered the initial ground before Redmond expertly tipped away Taylor’s effort; the unmarked Alan Power struck venomously into the ground and over Redmond to put the Imps back in the driving seat.
Jake Speight then replaced Ben Hutchinson in attack before Briscoe nearly levelled from another Clements free kick, however it was at the other end where Briscoe’s presence was required, he mopped up after the Imps had crashed a shot against the bar on 76 minutes.
Three later Matt Rhead entered the fray for Meikle as Stags became more direct in their search for a leveller, with five to go it was Lincoln who powered forward through Alan Power from another Stags attacking throw, Briscoe again on hand to clear up.
As the game moved into four minutes of additional time Shane Redmond did brilliantly to deny Lincoln a fourth goal of the game, from his save Mansfield attacked and earned a free kick which Clements swung in. Rhead connected by was denied by Farman who pushed the ball away, Louis Briscoe was on hand to clip back in perfectly, Rhead bursting the back of the net as he thundered home a leveller three minutes into additional time.
From the restart Lincoln earned a throw on the right hand side, Dan Gray’s long one caused all sorts of trouble and a goal bound effort from Power had to be dramatically cleared by Thompson who atoned for his earlier error – the full time whistle wrapping up an entertaining encounter, the winners of the replay a week on Tuesday have arguably the best third round tie, a home match with Liverpool.
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