at Forest Town Stadium, AKA 'The Clod'
Central Midlands League (North)
AFC Mansfield (2) 6
Carl Haslam 14, 32, 52
Dean Rick 59 (pen), 90+
Danny McClane 66
Harworth Colliery Institute (1) 1
Gaz Sides 45+
Admission £3, Programme £1.50, Attendance 195
Thanks to Peter Craggs and Carl Haslam for additional details
Dale Sheppard, Bradley Cox, Liam Pride, Matt Draper, Steve McGurk, Gary Armstrong, Joe Meehan, Ricky Chambers, Dean Rick, Carl Haslam, Danny McLane
Subs - Lee Bowler, Phil Buxton, Adam Roy, Mark Staniforth, Graeme Rodger
Harworth Colliery Institute
Mark Latham, Jordan Hardman, Shay Dunning, James Woodward, Stuart Needham, Chris Belshaw, David Reeve, Craig Anderson, Tom Walker, Gareth Sides, Tom Pick
Subs - Simon Brewster, David Cornthwaite, Matt Dent, Paul Burns
In his programme notes, AFC Mansfield's manager Micky Taylor said "we will be treating this game as one of the bench marks to how our season is progressing and how strong some of the sides are in this league"
For the record Micky, the answers are, i) like an out of control express train, ii) nowhere near strong enough to compete with a team with as many quality players and as much strength in depth as AFC Mansfield have. You'd walk the NCEL First Division with that team.
It was simply 'our' turn today, to come unstuck against a side who are on a different plane, or different planet even maybe ... and in a league all of their own.
For a brief spell, that lasted approximately from the time the half time whistle sounded, until around the 52nd minute of the game, I'd managed to kid myself into believing that, just maybe, Harworth could get something, though probably only a draw, out of this game.
It is said, that psychologically speaking, the optimum time to score a goal, to demoralise the opposition, is just before half time.
But any half decent shrink, will also tell you, that letting your imagination run riot, will only lead to disappointment in the end, via the short-lived euphoria that unrealistically heightened expectations and misplaced optimism generates.
And when you fall from cloud nine you seldom land on your feet with a bump, ouch!
The second half, in the main, was a really hard reality slap.
Harworth were still in with a shout at the break, which in itself was some kind of triumph, given some of the recent thrashings that AFC Mansfield have inflicted on other clubs in the CMFL North.
But, that said, it was fairly evident that most people who had turned up to back the visiting side, had done so in hope rather than expectation.
All we've got to do, is keep the ball away from that bloke in tights,
with the pink boots on ... and we'll be just fine.
A few minutes later Danny McLane fired just over the visitors goal from the edge of the area.
Five, ten, fifteen (nearly) minutes passed and Harworth were more or less containing the lively Mansfield attack and keeping them at bay, while waiting patiently for the chance to hit them on the counter attack and ... err, scrap that!
A yard of space and a burst of pace and Haslam struck, one nil.
A few minutes later, Ricky Chambers free kick was flicked across the box by Steve McGurk and Matt Draper, who always comes forward and makes a nuisance of himself at set pieces, headed over from close range.
The next passage of the game would, to pinch Micky Taylor's words, be a bench mark to see how well this seasons Harworth team, could cope with a top quality side, who usually up the ante and go for the jugular, once they've got their noses in front.
Well, not this side of the half time break anyway.
In actual fact, the Colliery side, took the game to their illustrious hosts for a while.
Craig Anderson came close to forcing an equaliser for the visitors on 20 minutes, but he headed narrowly wide.
Then Tom walker, back after a two week lay off, made himself some space on the right flank and crossed to the back stick where Chris Belshaw headed wide.
But Harworth's hopes of pulling level were dashed, when the Bulls won a corner at the other end and Carl Haslam put so much back spin on it, he scored directly from the flag kick, leaving the seven disconsolate visiting players in the box (see picture below) wondering how the fu ... hmm, how on earth, that one had managed to squeeze through them all and into the net.
Carl Haslam (who else?) played a perfect ball across the six yard box, which Dean Rick narrowly failed to connect with and Danny McLane unbelievably put wide with the goal at his mercy.
To be fair to McLane, I think he was taken aback when Rick didn't get to the ball first and was caught by surprise when the chance fell to him.
It was a real let off for Harworth.
In first half injury time, Tom Walker, relishing playing in the hole between the midfield and forwards, drilled a cross over into the box from out on the right and Gaz Sides directed it past Dale Sheppard.
Halft time 2-1 ... Game on? Probably not, but Harworth were at least showing some fire and determination and had created a few good chances of their own, while Carl Haslam was stealing the show at the other end of the pitch.
Oi Hazza! Enough is enough now! Give someone else the bleedin' ball.
Just before the hour mark, Mark Latham, the Harworth keeper, conceded a penalty and the referee, Scott Mason showed him a yellow card.
In my humble opinion, the referee had a very good game, applying a lot of common sense ... and in my capacity of stand in and (very) temporary pen pusher and time keeper for Harworth Colliery this afternoon, I found him to be very approachable and easy to get along with.
Though he wasn't open to my suggestion that we should utilise the smaller goals, stood over the far side of the ground, that Woodhouse Colts had been using earlier in the afternoon, instead of the full sized ones.
Yes, AFC Mansfield's Dean Rick fired home the penalty and in spite of their gutsy first half showing it was now damage limitation time for Harworth, while I practised my (unconvincing) 'never mind, it's only a game' smile cum grimace face, that I was going to have to use while congratulating the Bulls officials at the end of the game.
They're fellow Stags though and didn't gloat or rub it in when the time came. Thanks!
On 66 minutes, it was 5-1, when Danny McLane knocked the ball home from inside the Harworth box. His comedy miss in the first half, was a one off after all.
At the other end, Chris Belshaw shot from outside the Bulls area, but he didn't get enough behind it to trouble Dale Sheppard and the home side's goalkeeper saved the effort quite easily.
I wonder if Sheppard's had to have his kit washed this season yet?
Phil Buxton hit the ball against the post from a Carl Haslam cross as AFC Mansfield looked to rack up yet another high score.
It's just a shame he couldn't have left the pitch an hour earlier.
But Dean Rick was still at large and inside stoppage time, he banged home the home sides sixth goal of the afternoon.
On the strength of their first half showing Harworth didn't deserve to get a going over.
But on the strength of their showing over the entire 90 minutes, AFC Mansfield deserved everything they've and I've got no complaints at all.
There are quite a few people in local non league circles, bemoaning the fact that with their playing squad and resources, the Bulls have an unfair advantage and shouldn't even be in the CMFL North.
But I disagree, their presence is generating a lot of exposure for a league that had previously been in the doldrums with an uncertain future.
But the ones making the most noise about it, don't have adequate facilities to make the move up anyway, while investment is in place to develop the Forest Town site to meet any promotion criteria.
And besides, AFC Mansfield had no option but to start their ascent through the non league pyramid from a level 7 league.
Imagine the furore if the new club at been parachuted into the NCEL Prem to start life there.
There are a lot of mismatches in the CMFL this season, but the better sides are finding their level and that still provides a good supply of quality games.
I guess the switch to a north/south format, from the supreme/premier set up, was a suck it and see experiment, that the majority of clubs favoured and both structures had their own pros and cons.
It's going to be interesting to see if any further changes are afoot in the near future.
Well, nobody really thought they would beat the champions elect today, did they?
Sure, steady and sustainable, big strides in the right direction are being made at Scrooby Road this term and they're in better shape on the pitch now, than they have been in a long time ... and that's down to Brendan and Jonny Wilson.
Behind the scenes, the people pulling the strings and keeping things tricking over are 100% committed to the cause and they're in it for what they can put into the club, rather than what that can take out of it.
And coming up through the ranks, they've got the best crop of young players that the club's ever had, who are being steered in the right direction, by Glenn and Hasan.
In actual fact, all the teams at Harworth are in the hands of the right sort of people nowadays, which bodes well for the club.
Yeah, the first team got turned over this afternoon, especially in the second half, but name me one other club in the CMFL, North or South, who wouldn't have been today, against such a good team with an all but unplayable and in form striker.
But that's over with now, it's just one game and it's out of the way, ... it's heads down, sleeves up and business as usual time again now, ASAFP!