Saturday, 18 August 2018

Retford 5 v Renishaw Rangers 2 - CMFL North

Saturday 18th August 2018
CMFL North
at the Rail Ground
Retford FC (1) 5
Jack Johnson 35
Gaz Davies 52, 73
Declan Heath 62
Josh Robson 72
Renishaw Rangers (1) 2
Aiden McTighe 37
Owen Ryan 88
Admission £3. Programme £1.50. Attendance 71
Link to Retford FC press officer Jon Knight's 
photos from this entertaining game: HERE
When I last visited the Rail ground, back in May, I also saw Renishaw Rangers in action, when they visited the sprawling metropolis and non league football hotbed of East Retford. On a night that the Choughs won quite convincingly, by six goals to nil over their Derbyshire border based visitors, who play their home games seven miles away from Renishaw itself at Kiveton Park, in South Yorkshire. 
The Yorkshire border is only the length of a couple of half decent goal kicks (or the width of a few second half glaring misses by Renishaw's Ryan Bates), away from the Derbyshire village... while 'Kivo' is even closer to Nottinghamshire in the opposite direction, given that four counties (including Lincolnshire) all merge into each other around these parts, bringing together a disparate mix of local traditions and folklore. But we usually stay quiet about it, to keep the otherwise inevitable influx of tourists out.
Another stand awaiting construction at the Rail Ground.
And floodlighting will be arriving soon too.
A ground hopper from London was present at that May fixture as well... and he kept himself amused by informing me all about the railways in the area, that are of course just a matter of feet away from both Retford FC and Renishaw Rangers' respective grounds, and are only separated by palisade fencing. 
I was far too polite to inform him that he was actually talking a whole load of uninformed codswallop and that he was stood right beside somebody who knew a whole lot more about the local rail network than him... because I actually work quite regularly on the lines that run just beyond those respective fences.
Prior to this afternoon, Retford had only played one game thus far this season, which they lost 2-0 on the Road at Tideswell. Whereas Renishaw had played two and won two, both at their Hard Lane home ground,  against Appleby Frodingham and Staveley.
Adam Scott had to sit this afternoon's game out after misbehaving and getting red card at Tideswell last week, while Aaron Hutchinson, sponsored by THE66POW was also sidelined while he recovers from injury... I would've kept my receipt if I'd have known that Retford were selling me damaged goods.
Danny Hartshorn in the Rangers goal, fielded a couple of early touches, when he got down to his left to hold onto Jason Swannack's effort from fifteen yards, after Bates had half cleared Jack Johnson's left wing delivery, before Gaz Davies tested him with a free kick  from the same sort of range.
But Renishaw were a different proposition to last season (during the first half at least) and were unlucky not to take the lead moments later, when Jon Kennedy saved Levi Richmond's close range strike and the loose ball ran to Jordan Parsons, who rolled the ball across the six yard box to Josh Pickering, who beat the Choughs 'dead famous' keeper all ends up, but saw his shot crash off of the cross bar.
Parsons put in an impressive shift and was often the outlet that the visitors employed to give them some forward momentum, but for me, the stand out player of the afternoon, was Retford's number two: Matt Bryce, who combined a solid performance on the right hand side of defence, with plenty of link up play in midfield, a good eye and assured touch as regards distributing the ball and no small amount of work weighing in on the right wing, that he got up and down as frequently (and almost as quickly) as the succession of trains that shot by at regular intervals on the adjacent East Coast Main line.
Close behind Bryce, in THE66POW man of the match voting stakes was Oli Bilham, who was a tower of strength in the middle of the park for the home side... and it was he who came close to breaking the deadlock after fifteen minutes, but Rob Holland blocked his goal-bound effort from Swannack's square pass and cleared Rangers lines at the expense of a corner.
The pendulum swung the other way again as Joe Kirk spotted Parsons run early and fed the ball forward down the left flank to his live-wire team mate, whose fizzing delivery across Kennedy's goalmouth only needed the slightest of touches, but was just out of the reach of Aiden McTighe and physical presence of Richmond.
 
Gareth Campion came to his sides rescue, blocking Liam Riley's half volley after Parsons had chested the ball down to him from Bates' dipping free kick.
The hosts quickly turned defence into attack and Swannack did well to cut back on the left flank before crossing towards Jack Johnson who added the finishing touch to put the Choughs ahead in the thirty fifth minute.
Maybe I should take a moment out to explain the relevance of the 'Choughs' nickname.
A chattering (for that is the correct collective noun) of Choughs
Recently an esteemed non league blogger of my acquaintance, Russ, a friendly soul from Wycombe, had suggested that the moniker was derived from the noise that the passing locomotives make, which would actually have made sense, of a kind and was also quite amusing. But in truth, the town coat of arms for Retford, depicts two birds, which represent the ancient and apparently feuding parishes of East and West Retford... those birds are actually Choughs, so the non de plume, is historically significant to the locality.
In the time that it took me to impart that piece of fascinating knowledge upon you, Renishaw had equalised, when the omnipresent threat of Parsons, picked out McTighe with a well weighted delivery into the area, that was cleverly steered past Kennedy while the prolific striker feigned that he was going to take the ball away in the opposite direction. McTighe has now scored in all three of Renishaw's CMFL games so far this season.
Both sides had chances to go in front before half time, but saves at both ends, by Hartshorn who denied Johnson after Robbie Collingburn had set him and Kennedy who chased off of his line to reach the ball first, after Parsons had 'dinked' it over the Retford defence for McTighe to chase after.
HT: Choughs 1 v Rangers 1
Declan Heath was introduced by the home side at half time and his willingness to run at the Rangers defence, which now had an extra man to pick up, created enough space for Martin Woodhead to pick out Gaz Davies with a perfectly weighted pass, from which the Retford number turn planted the ball past Hartshorn to restore the home side's lead.
Renishaw tried to get back on level terms again and tried chipping away at their hosts rearguard down the right flank through the tricky Owen Ryan, who was presenting Swannack with the kind of battling one to one challenge that he so obviously relishes.
But, in spite of the visitors persistence so far in this contest, Retford were slipping up through the gears now and starting to take the game by the scruff of it's neck and squeeze the action into Renishaw's back third.
Bryce made a powerful run forward and floated a hanging cross towards Davies, but instead of glancing the ball towards the target, it bounced off of the side of his head and the moment had gone, whilst 'anon' who was stood next to me at the time, comically remarked: "That's the problem with having a square head instead of a round one!"
Moments later, Davies once again threatened to grab another goal, after Johnson had held off a robust challenge from Connor Shirley to get his cross away from the left, but Hartshorn was down quickly to block the resulting low and well struck shot.
Swannack and Johnson combined on the left before the latter picked up a neat return pass from Bilham, but his lofted cross narrowly evaded the incoming Davies, who having found the net, evidently wanted another goal to his name.
Hartshorn was forced into making a close range block from the rampant Davies, but as the ball spun from his grasp, Heath was on hand to stab the ball over the line.
It was all or nothing time from Renishaw if they were going to salvage anything from this game now and though Cory Burton managed to get a cross of sorts in, despite the limpet like attention of Campion, Kennedy showed why he is still playing the game, years after everybody had expected to hang up his gloves and take it easy on Saturday afternoons. Jamie Housley, the other Retford goalkeeper, must cherish training with a player of Kennedy's proven calibre, while also wondering when the effing hell it'll be his turn to impress between the posts on the Rail Ground.
As Renishaw's initially promising afternoon, began to slip away from them, they found that Graeme Severn, was a rock in the middle of the Choughs defence and about as immovable as a particularly stubborn and demolition proof brick outhouse... and in the seventy second minute, the visitors resolve took a massive kick in the nether regions, when Davies unselfishly played a square ball across their goalmouth to present Josh Robson with a great chance, that he converted to make the score 4-1.
And soon afterwards it was 5-1 when Johnson's left wing cross deflected off of Riley into the path of Davies on the edge of the area, who finally bagged his second goal... and richly deserved it was too.
Heath went to ground under an industrial strength challenge from Shirley inside the penalty area, but the referee waved 'play on' after deciding that the Rangers right back had made a genuine attempt to get the ball... which one Mr Sharp? His left one or his right one?
Owen Ryan forced a save out of Kennedy late in the game, before setting Bates up with a half chance that he drilled wide of the goal, but right at the death Ryan actually reduced the arrears, when he ran onto a through ball from McTighe, through the right channel and kept his cool before planting the ball past Kennedy. It wasn't going to make the blindest bit of difference to the fianl outcome now, but it was a well taken strike nevertheless.
FT: Retford 5 v Renishaw Rangers 2  
And so it came to pass, that a much improved Renishaw side, were swept away by Retford's second half power play, that earned the Choughs a decent win in their opening home league fixture.
I look forward toseeing both of these sides in action again any time soon... and would politely suggest that you should too.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Birmingham City 0 v Swansea City 0 - EFL Championship

Friday 17th August 2018
SkyBet EFL Championship
at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium
Birmingham City (0) 0
Swansea City (0) 0
Attendance: 20,083 (inc. 1578 from Swansea)
Birmingham City:
Lee Camp, Kristian Pedersen, Maxime Colin, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Harlee Dean, Omar Bogle (Che Adams, 78), Jacques Maghoma, Gary Gardner (Charlie Lakin, 84), Jota, Michael Morrison.
Unused subs - Connal Trueman, Marc Roberts, Connor Mahoney, Viv Solomon-Otabor, Wes Harding.
Swansea City:
Erwin Mulder, Martin Olsson, Mike van der Hoorn, Oli McBurnie, Bersant Celina, Tom Carroll (Dan James, 63), Joel Asoro, Barrie McKay (Leroy Fir, 63), Joe Rodon, Connor Roberts, Jay Fulton.
Unused subs - Steven Benda, Jefferson Montero, Matty Grimes, Kyle Naughton, Yan Dhanda.
The last time that Blues beat Swansea City was back in September 2013, at St.Andrew's when Lee Clark's side knocked the Premiership club and League Cup holders, out of the competition the the third round, at St. Andrew's, in front of a crowd of just 7,470, thanks to goals from Dan Burn, Matt Green and Tom Adeyemi, while Wilfried Bony netted an injury time consolation goal for the visitors in injury time.
The game also marked the (then) Swansea defender Gary Monk's last ever appearance as a player.
After the game, the Swans manager at the time, Michael Laudrup, claimed that his side should've been 4-0 up at half time, before going on to say: Lord Lucan was camping in his back garden, the moon was made of cream cheese and the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest was rigged, so that Brotherhood of Man would win it with their number one chart smash: "Save Your Kisses for Me". The guy is obviously a bit of a loon.
And staying on the subject of 'last times'; tonight saw the first league meeting between Birmingham and Swansea since December 2008. That game finished as a goalless draw at St Andrew's too.
Blues really ought to have claimed all three points tonight, but couldn't quite find the finishing touch to break the deadlock, in spite of putting the Swansea goal under siege at times, with wave upon wave of flowing, attacking football, with Erwin Mulder, the visitors Dutch goalkeeper making some fantastic saves along the way, indeed his agility and reach was such, that the outspoken Birmingham fan in the row behind me, responded to one particular save, with the quip: "That's all we bloody need... Swansea have got that Stretch Armstrong bloke in goal tonight!"
Tom Ross of TalkSport and the Birmingham Mail called it a "0-0 massacre". And suffice to say, the visitors manager, Graham Potter, who took over the reigns at the Liberty Stadium in the Summer, after achieving remarkable success at Swedish club Ă–stersund, said, in the aftermath of the game: "I will be the happier of the two managers, that is for sure. Over the course of the game Birmingham deserved to win the match. But we hung in, stabilised things in the second half and sometimes you have to take what you can get."
Solihull born Potter, actually started his playing career at Birmingham City, during the 1992-93 season, making twenty five appearances for Blues, while scoring two goals along the way.
Barcelona play a high pressing game, as do Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool... and though both of those sides would probably batter Blues out of sight on the field of play, and the connection is tenuous at best, Monk's side utilised a variation of the same tactics tonight, which effectively stifled and overpowered the 'Jacks' all the way across the often congested midfield, where the tempo became somewhat frantic from time to time, especially towards the end of the second half, when the home side upped the tempo in a last ditch bid to claim the three points that this performance warranted... especially before half time, when the game was virtually one sided for long spells.
Birmingham had a top heavy seventeen attempts on goal. But you don't get any prizes for statistics alone.
Maybe once Omar Bogle has had a run in the team and starts finding the net on a regular basis, this Major drawback in front of the oppositions goal can be addressed.
Che Adams is, of course, Blues number 9, but he isn't an out and out twenty goals per season centre forward, not by any stretch of the imagination... and if truth be told (and this as been raised elsewhere), he hasn't exactly been earning any rave reviews of late, due to his lack of form.
Adams, is obviously a talented player, who should revel in playing alongside another striker, but at the present time, he looks to be a yard off of the pace and not at all comfortable with his role. That he was 'rested' tonight and only made a token cameo appearance for the last ten minutes or so, speaks volumes about how he has been struggling to make much of an impression in games.
He missed a bit of a sitter tonight, when the ballsat up for him on the right hand corner of the six yard box, but he scuffed it into the Tilton Road end.
Hopefully Adams can regain the kind of form that led the club to sign him in the first place, but until that happens, his body language does suggest that his mindset and approach to games isn't anywhere near right at the moment. Dropping him altogether might act as a kick up the backside and help to refocus the former Ilkeston Town and Sheffield United live-wire front man, but it could also dent his confidence. All forward players go through fallow spells... and while-soever the St. Andrew's crowd remain patient and stand by their man, he'll come through the other side of his current malaise, a stronger, wiser and more effective player. I reckon, That if I was a gambling man, I'd back him to come good any time soon.
Although Blues were beaten fairly and squarely at Middlesbrough last Saturday, regardless of what the narrow scoreline might suggest, and during the interim, they've also been eliminated from the League Cup at Reading in midweek (with a vastly changed line up), I don't think that anybody present at the opening today fixture v Norwich City, or tonight, would disagree when I say, that Monk's side have been bloody unlucky to have to settle for a point apiece from both of their home games, when they really deserved to win these two games. Yes, I grant you, if a team doesn't take advantage of more of the chances they create, then they aren't to regularly win on a regular basis, but luck, or rather a complete lack of it, has played a massive part in Blues fixtures at St. Andrew's so far.
It was especially impressive tonight how commendably well Birmingham bossed the midfield, with Gary Gardner, on loan from Blues bitter rivals Aston Villa, stamping his mark on the game in particular, in the absence of his suspended brother Craig, filling the void in a like for like combative fashion, with his hard working and hard hitting presence. Of course, another role that needed filling was the one left by the outgoing Cheick Ndoye, who has rejoined the French Ligue 1 club Angers, on loan until the end of the season, which will effectively see out the remainder of his contract with the St. Andrew's club.
Three successive managers have picked him to appear for Birmingham in a total of forty two games in a little over a year... and the Senegalese national team coach obviously rates him too, but it would appear that he was sacrificed; well, not exactly slaughtered and presented as a peace offering to the EFL's Financial Fair Play body, but moved on as a cost cutting and budget reducing exercise.
I personally saw him as a big, cumbersome and occasionally clumsy player, but all teams in this ultra competitive division, need at least one such competitor within their ranks to man the barricades and bolster the middle of the park, acting as a first line of defence, especially in these days of three at the back. Whether Ndoye's departure will free up funds to reinvest in any more team re-building, or will merely get swallowed up satisfying a list of transfer embargo stipulations, remains to be seen, but I suspect that the latter option will be the case. Either way, the supporters of the club have lost a 'cult hero'... and even if some of his status was tongue in cheek at times, everybody loves a trier. Even my sarcastic pal who compared his mobility to that of the statues outside the Riverside Stadium last week.
Jota, who has flattered to deceive in the opening games, looked to be returning to the kind of form that he displayed towards the back end of last season, when he excelled under the change of management, when Monk was instilled to replace Steve Cotterill, in the nick of time. Blues record signing, at an eye popping five million pounds, when a previous manager splashed the cash to land him from Brentford, was prepared to unsettle Swansea, by running at their defence, time after time.
I heard two comments regarding Jota tonight: two Swansea fans I was chatting to on the train after the game, said he was running rings round their full back all night and enthused generously about his ability, while during the actual game, a Blues supporter, up on the Kop, had shouted out: "Five million quid for a one footed player, how much would he have cost if he'd got a right foot as well!?"
Err... that might explain him running around in circles then! 
But lets be fair, the vast majority of players have one stronger and preferred foot, but still need another one to maintain their balance. 
I actually said last season on this very blog, I think it was pertaining to Birmingham's FA Cup game at Huddersfield; that when Jota plays well, Blues play well (even though they wore all red that afternoon), so long may the "one footed, luxury Portuguese player" (a quote, not my own point of view, I hasten to add), run havoc at opposition defenders, tearing around in circles and creating tricks with his better foot. 
FT: Birmingham City 0 v Swansea City 0
I decided against doing a detailed and blow for blow match report tonight. Because, by the time I get home, at around 1.30AM (re-signalling works = train diversions) on Saturday morning, this game will have been shown live, the re-run will have already been screened... and the match highlights video will be on the club website, YouTube and any number of other sources. 
Check the action out for yourselves, so you too can marvel at how the freakin' hell this game ever actually finished goalless. Right, where the effing hell is this Platform 11A?

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Mansfield Town 6 v Accrington Stanley 1 - EFL League Cup

Tuesday 14th August 2018
Carabao EFL League Cup
Mansfield Town (4) 6
Tyler Walker 9 pen, 13 pen, 45+2,
Otis Khan 16, Danny Rose 66, 
CJ Hamilton 90+4
Accrington Stanley (1) 1
Sam Finley 6
Admission £20. Programme £1.50
Attendance 1565 inc 76 from Accrington
Tonight was, in the main, mostly about Mansfield Town, with a manifold myriad of factors surrounding the game offering enough drama and intrigue to fill an whole issue of the sold out match programme.
But, let's commence this sermon, with a look at the visiting side, before heaping mountains of superlative praise on the slick and unrelenting pummeling they received at the hands of the Stags in this most entertaining of League Cup matches.
In 1888, Accrington FC, were amongst the twelve founding members of the Football League; however they resigned as members after just five years and subsequently folded.
Another team in the town called Stanley Villa, who were named after the Stanley Working Men's Club where they were based, took on the name of Accrington after the demise of the former league club and became known as Accrington Stanley.
The former Stanley Villa version of Accrington Stanley, gained promotion to the Football League in 1921. where they stayed until March 1962, when they resigned from Division Four having completed just 33 of their scheduled 46 games... and as a consequence their playing record for that season was expunged, including a goalless draw at Peel Park against Mansfield Town.
Stanley then played four further seasons in the Lancashire Combination before calling it a day in 1966.
A rebirth/formation of a new club* (*argue about that one amongst yourselves) under the name of Accrington Stanley two years later and by 1970 they were playing at what is still their current home of the Crown Ground. Although there is talk of them moving to a newly built ground in Church, which stands on the outskirts of Accrington at some point in the future.
Fast forward to 2006 and the 'new(er)' Accrington Stanley gained promotion to the Football League as champions of the Football Conference.
During their inaugural Football League, 'Accy' lost 1-0 against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup First Round at Field Mill, a game in which Richie Barker scored the only goal, but in fourteen league fixtures between the clubs, since 'Stanley II' were promoted, four have been draws and the Lancashire side have won the other ten, to establish themselves as the Stags bogey team.
The last time that Accrington visited Mansfield, on Good Friday at the end of March,all that separated the two sides was a Seamus Conneely goal on the hour, as Stanley cruised through the gears to eventually claim the League Two title (and promotion to League One), while the Stags own play-off bid was stuttering to a grinding halt.
In the build up tonight's cup tie, both team's respective managers had hinted about 'utilising personnel' and implementing 'squad rotation', so the respective line ups were pretty much going to be an exercise of 'suck it and see', for those who paid for the tickets in  advance for tonight; but it's not as though anybody making their way to the stadium would have been under the illusion that they would be watching two full strength sides in action.
Some chose not to attend because of that reason, and others stayed away because the tickets were priced at £20, for what was never going to be one of the most mouth-wateringly attractive of games, but a lot of those who made the choice to stay away on those grounds, are members of the Quarry Lane End membership scheme, whereby for an annual membership fee of £20, they can buy tickets for all league fixtures at half price, which is a massively generous deal on the part of the club... and consequently it wouldn't hurt those who benefit from the scheme to pay the full whack for the occasional cup match, instead of moaning about getting a raw deal and effectively boycotting the very team that they regularly watch for a cut price rate. 
Remember, gate receipts are shared at cup games and the visiting team have to be consulted as to whether they're happy to take less income because of reduced ticket prices.
But... each to their own and all power to the elbow of those who feel that they are wholly justified in making a stand, for backing up their convictions and voting with their feet.
Accrington Stanley never will be glamorous opposition and/or a big box office draw, particularly in the early rounds of a cup competition; but as things currently stand, they are the reigning League Two champions and ply their trade in a higher division than Mansfield do, so it's hardly as if people were being asked to pay twenty quid to watch a team of minnows, locking horns, or should that be antlers? With David Flitcroft's Stags side.
There are no points to be scored, one upmanship, nor moral high ground to be won (or lost), when these things happen, it's a free country and everyone is entitled to their own choices and opinions. 
I personally went to the game, because I wanted to... and I was genuinely interested in seeing what squad members might be getting a run out tonight. 
At the end of the ninety plus minutes, I would have to say that: as value for money goes, £20 for a home performance of this calibre, was an absolute bargain. In fact, I am sure that anybody who was present at this League Cup tie, would fully understand when I say: the Stags could probably have got away with charging fans an extra fiver on the way out, in lieu of a surcharge for providing them with such an excessively entertaining game of football... a slight exaggeration on my part you might think, but I reckon that the emphasis would have to be on the word 'slight'.
Danny Rose... anybody who doesn't know all the different versions of events doing the rounds about the Stags top scorer last season, that involve Peterborough United and their odious manager, amongst others, must've been comatose for forty days and nights, so lets leave all that codswallop for those who are (apparently) 'in the know' and concentrate on tonight's events.
Prior to the game, Rose emerged from the players tunnel alone, before all of the other players and walked along the front of the West Stand... where the entire crowd were housed tonight, including the seventy six visiting supporters, who were given a block of seats in the lower tier... to take his place on the substitutes bench. It could, given some of the circumstances surrounding his recent on/off transfer to Peterborough, have been seen as running the gauntlet, or even perceived as risking receiving a whole load of brickbats as he made a 'walk of shame'. 
But in the event... nothing of the sort materialised, as he posed for 'selfies' with young fans, signed a few autographs and in general, was met with a favourable response. His introduction from the bench in the sixty fifth minute was met with a mixed response, although there were more cheers than jeers... and his goal within sixty seconds of entering the fray and the gesture he made at full time, turning to the supporters and holding up his hands to fans at both ends of the Ian Greaves Stand, were both met with universal approval.
It's been a messy business all told, but Danny Rose is still a Stags player and even if not everyone is prepared to 'forgive and forget' about the pre-season shenanigans, methinks that the healing process is well underway. So, until the next transfer window comes around; heads down, sleeves rolled up and get on with business as usual. I have no doubt that all parties involved in the 'he said, she said' finger pointing exercise, might have said stuff in the heat of the moment that they're now regretting... but show me a man who says that he hasn't and I'll show you a bare faced liar. 
Besides, people who sound off when they're angry only do so because they care so much... and it's not exactly a bad thing to have people who genuinely give a f*ck around the place.
But enough of the sub-plots and on with the main event.
There were changes in both line ups when the teams were announced, as was widely expected, as the Stags made a couple of early breaks to no avail, before falling behind to a soft goal to concede in the sixth minute, when Sean McConville threaded a pass through to Sam Finley on the left hand side of the area, who wrong-footed Hayden White and CJ Hamilton, before jogging towards Bobby Olejnik's with a group of Mansfield players keeping him company, before planting an angled knock just inside the far post.
Was the Accrington hex, the infamous Stanley hoodoo about to befell yet another Mansfield Town team? Was it chuffin' hell as like!
Des Walker and Carlton Palmer on England duty
The former England central defender Des Walker was sat just behind us, he was here to cheer on his lad: Tyler, who was leading the line for the home side and by the time that his talented offspring made way for Danny Rose in the sixty fourth minute, the former Nottingham Forest, Sampdoria, Sheffield Wednesday and Mansfield Town player had certainly seen plenty to get enthusiastic about. 
Yes, you read that correctly by the way, the actual Des Walker really did play for the Stags, way back in 2005, when the leg-end that is Carlton Palmer was in charge of the Stags first team. Albeit just the one solitary outing in a pre-season friendly at Cannon Park against Retford United, where Walker hobbled off after managing just twenty minutes at the start of the game... and I have the photos somewhere to prove it genuinely did happen.
Tyler Walker... in his other team's colours
Walker junior is on a season long loan from Nottingham Forest, it's a crying shame that he's not a fully fledged, bona-fide and exclusive Stags player, but while-soever he's at the club, 'let the heartache begin', for opposition defences.
Calum Butcher, having fallen out of favour with the previous Stags manager, before being shipped out on loan to Billericay Town (out of spite), where it would appear that he actually had a decent time of things; is enjoying a new lease of life under that nice Mr Flitcroft. On tonight's showing he needs to be come off of the transfer list and be utilised more often, having put in a storming performance to silence a few of his critics, particularly as he was involved in the build up play to the hosts first three goals.
Butcher threaded a slide-rule pass into the path of Walker, who took the ball forward towards Jonny Maxted and slipped it past him, but was felled by the keeper as he tried to carry on with his run.
Even the match referee, Seb Stockbridge, never one to endear himself to the Mansfield faithful, couldn't miss Maxted's challenge or fail to award the spot kick, that Walker took himself, tucking the ball comfortably into the left hand side of the net, as Maxted dived to the right. Three minutes after going a goal behind, the Stags were level and four minutes later they were actually in front, when once more, Walker beat Maxted, having sent him the wrong way from the spot again, after Scott Brown tripped Butcher as he advanced towards the visitors goal along the dead ball line to the right hand side of the area... right under the nose of an attentive linesman.
The hosts scored again to make the score 3-1 after only sixteen minutes, when White fed the ball to butcher on the right flank who advanced past Mark Hughes delivering a low cross to Otis Khan advanced, who controlled the ball with his first touch and directed it past Maxted with his second.
Even a light moment of comedy couldn't detract from the Stags first half performance, when Bobby Olejnik scuffed a clearance right into the path of Sean McConville, who sped forward with the goal at his mercy, but had to settle for a corner when the Stags keeper recovered and raced back to get a well timed tackle in.
I drank some Carabao energy drink once.
And it tastes just like Germoline smells.
It was getting almost surreal and other worldly, when a rampant Mansfield side netted a fourth against their bogey side and League One visitors before the break, when Benning progressed down the left hand touchline, before slipping the ball forward to the feet of Khan, whose low cross was steered past Maxted by a divine touch by Walker, who claimed a first half hat trick with a stylish flick. Benning was being given plenty of scope to get forward, because debutant Ryan Sweeney was looking so strong on the left hand side of defence, alongside captain Krystian Pearce in the middle and White on the right, who in spite of getting caught cold for the opening goal of the night, impressed from then on in.
HT: Stags 4 (Four) v Stanley 1
So the lower than usual crowd meant that I had
a better chance of winning. Right? Err... wrong!!!
That there league fixtures record that tonight's visitors from Hovis land hold over the Stags, still remains intact, but it was just about nailed on by now, that Flitcroft's side were heading, full steam ahead, towards maintaining the clubs 100% win record over the 'Accy' lot in cup games (you can prove anything with statistics)... and playing some great high tempo attacking football into the bargain too.
The visitors showed some decent close control and short passing prowess, but they were simply getting overrun and blown away tonight... and no amount of going to ground easily was going to have any effect on the final outcome, even if John Coleman's side were adept at hoodwinking the card happy Mr Stockbridge.
Jacob Mellis, another Stags player seemingly enjoying his football again under the current management team, crossed from the left wing with such accuracy, that he had served up a chance on a plate for substitute Danny Rose, who added a fifth goal less than two minutes after replacing the man of the match Tyler Walker.
Quite what response Rose might've got if he'd missed what was a nailed on sitter is open to conjecture, but we'll never know... he doesn't waste those sort of chances, because he is a quality striker and, regardless of anything else, he is Mansfield Town's quality striker. 
If a.n.other club and their shit-house of a manager (see above) want him, then they'll have to come back with a more serious offer next time.
Accrington were on the ropes, gum shield out, guard dropped and knees knocking together, hoping to see the remainder of the game out by taking a standing count, but the Stags still had the scent of blood in their nostrils and kept taking the game to their punch-drunk opponents, and even my mate from South Normanton ran out of fingers and toes to count how many passes they put together, before CJ Hamilton added the finishing touch to public demonstration of 'total football' to  make the final score:
Mansfield Town 6 v Accrington Stanley 1
The visitors manager was glowing in his praise of this very convincing win for the Stags... which says it all really.
The draw for the second round is televised live at 7PM on Thursday night.
Okay, it was only the League Cup First Round and both teams have bigger fish to fry n' all that, but I really enjoyed tonight's game.