Craig Priest writes….
Mansfield Town booked their place in the third round of the FA Cup with a professional display against non-league Guiseley on an afternoon filled with cup heroes and villians, as former managers Paul Cox & Adam Murray received a lovingly-warm welcome home.
The club legends, now manager and assistant respectively of Guiseley, received an extremely warm standing ovation as they made their way to the visiting dug-out prior to kick-off – but for themselves in the here and now, endured an afternoon they’d love to forget – as two red cards allowed the current Stags crop an easy afternoon.
Full credit to the visitors who didn’t lie down resigned to defeat, even at 3-0 with nine-men I still felt they could have caused us a problem if they got half an opening – sadly for Cox & Murray, the instruction to go out and be physically was taken far too literally and it cost them in the end. Playing with ten men and mounting a comeback is achievable but with nine against an in-form and hungry Mansfield – it was never going to end well really.
Credit too should go to Mansfield as a unit for their professionalism, there’s no doubt the idea to go physical was to try and provoke a reaction from the players – they we’re wise to that though and just got their heads down and accepted it for what it was, a cup match where they were there to be shot at.
It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for Steve Evans who I felt disappointed with again, as an experienced manager in non-league who went on giant-killing cup runs he most of all should have known the tactic to come, there’s no need to act like a petulant child and kick-off every time a player got breathed on – especially when you consider the fact the referee had it in hand, aka the two red cards and several bookings. The players got on with it, he should too.
I’m delighted to see Jimmy Spencer grab the headlines too, he’s a splendid hold up man who is capable of scoring goals and takes a lot of flak from supporters, but yesterday showed just how good he can be with smart touches and good movement. Yes you can argue two came at a time where space opened itself up with the numeric difference, but in truth had it not been for Jonny Maxted in the visitors goal, it could have been way more for Spencer, his team mates and the Stags.
The FA Cup draw awaits, a money spinner would be great or a big day-out somewhere, but let’s just enjoy the journey and first and foremost, stay focussed – we’ve a big game at Blackpool on Wednesday (which many don’t see as such) where players can stake a claim for a start at Crawley and where the club can not only earn a few extra spends, but also gage where they are against a League One side.
What is it they say? You can look back – but don’t stare.
Three changes were made by Evans following last weekend’s disappointing 2-2 derby-day draw, Joel Byrom and Jacob Mellis both missed out on a start with knocks, replaced by Atkinson and Anderson with MacDonald moving central – whilst Omari Sterling-James was replaced by Jimmy Spencer, who performed very well in the 45 minute run-out at Clipstone during the week.
The visitors had the first opening of the game as they looked to pull off another league-two scalp after beating Accrington in the previous round, Kayode Odejayi let fly from 16 yards but saw Logan equal too it, before on three minutes – visiting hearts were in mouths as Danny Rose went to ground under the challenge of M’Boungou – the referee awarding a corner.
Jimmy Spencer then tested the water on five minutes as he dragged an effort wide of the post from Hamilton’s cutting cross, a minute later Spencer again letting fly from twenty yards but firing wide.
Jonny Maxted was the Guiseley hero in round one and appeared to be so again as the Stags had two attempts inside a minute with 15 minutes played – first Alex MacDonald’s clever free-kick was beaten away after Rose was tripped on the edge of the box – before the visiting keeper threw himself at Paul Anderson’s shot, following a neat charge down the right hand side from Hayden White.
A minute later the post rescued the visitors as MacDonald volleyed a cross into the box – Rhys Bennett was first too it, but saw his header cannon off Maxted onto the post.
The visitors saw sight of Mansfield’s goal as the half progressed, Bennett on hand to prevent the run of Mike Fondop-Talom before at the other end, Maxted to the rescue once more – this time denying Anderson who struck on the half-volley from Rose’s neat cushioned header.
Spencer then had a shot blocked on the half hour but a minute later, finally got his reward as Mansfield romped forwards playing back to front – Paul Anderson providing the assist following a powerful right sided run – his cross met by the head of Spencer who thundered beyond Maxted.
Eight minutes later after several physical challenges, the visitors were reduced to ten men as Darren Holden lunged in on Jimmy Spencer – the straight red card had been coming as was the Stags second, Maxted however making the Stags wait – palming away another Spencer effort right on the stroke of half time.
After the break the visitors game plan was torn up on 50 minutes as, following an arm to the face of Spencer – Chris M’Boungou was given his marching orders with a second yellow card of the match, leaving Cox’s side with nine-men.
It took Mansfield a mere two minutes to make it pay, Jimmy Spencer again the man on the score-sheet, this turning in a left sided cross from Hamilton as Mansfield broke with intent.
On the hour Anderson nearly added a third but saw his shot deflect wide, before five minutes later as Spencer was fouled inside the area – he had the chance to seal a hat-trick from the spot and redeem his spot-kick miss from earlier in the season, which he duly did – sending Maxted the wrong way and rolling the ball into the bottom corner.
Alfie Potter replaced Anderson on 69 minutes and won the Stags a free kick within two minutes of coming on, MacDonald drove this one low but Maxted was equal to it, before moments later – he could only stand a watch the ball fizz narrowly wide, MacDonald smashing towards goal from 25 yards from Spencer’s set – the midfielder’s last action was he was replaced by Butcher to a standing ovation.
Danny Rose tried to replicate his first round goal at Shaw Lane with a volley on 78 minutes from white’s cross, but hit the ball over the bar – a minute later, Rose sent Butcher through but the midfielder, who scored a hat-trick against Clipstone in the 45-minute work-out, couldn’t get this shot on target.
CJ Hamilton then had a chance at the far post from White’s deep cross with nine minutes to go, the lively winger dragged his effort wide of the target – before the Stags hit the woodwork again as Potter and Hamilton stretched the visitors with quick, cross-park, football.
With two minutes to go, the whole stadium was up standing in applause as Jimmy Spencer was replaced by Sterling-James, and despite an additional three minutes of time allowed, couldn’t add a fourth goal.
FULL TIME: Stags 3-0 Guiseley
Hayden White – Zander Diamond © - Rhys Bennett – Johnny Hunt
Paul Anderson (Alfie Potter 69) – Alex MacDonald (Calum Butcher 73) – Will Atkinson – CJ Hamilton
Danny Rose – Jimmy Spencer (Omari Sterling-James 88)
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Olejnik, Jacob Mellis, Paul Digby, Krystian Pearce
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 4,081 (675)
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