Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mansfield Town 2 v Lincoln City 1 - FA Cup 2nd Round Replay

Wednesday 12th December 2012, at Field Mill
FA Cup 2nd Round Replay
Mansfield Town (1) 2
John Dempster 14, Louis Briscoe 77
Lincoln City (1) 1
Adam Smith 40
Admission £15, Programme £2,
Attendance 5,304 (1,360 away fans)
Mansfield Town
Marriott, Thompson (Sutton HT), Geohaghon, Dempster, Beevers, Briscoe, Howell, Clements, Meikle; Hutchinson (Rhead 61), Green.
Unused Subs - Speight, Wright, Murray, Stevenson, Daniel.
Lincoln City
Farman, Mills (Oliver 81), Boyce, Smith (Larkin 81), Power, Taylor, Sheridan (Robinson 86), Gray, Miller, Gilbert, Mofana.
Unused Subs - Robson, Nicolau, Turner, Morgan.
2-1 to Mansfield Town ... a result which means that Lincoln City now face the thrilling prospect of a trip to Ebbsfleet United for a Blue Square Bet Premier Division fixture, on the weekend that the FA Cup 3rd Round games are being played, in January.
While the Stags will have to content themselves, with a run of the mill home tie, in the FA Cup, against Liverpool.
Them's the breaks, Mr Holdsworth!
A cagey start, with the enormity of the reward for winning tonight that the third round draw has thrown up, obviously playing of the minds of the two teams from the outset, as they tried to settle into some kind of rhythm.
Both sets of fans had turned out in decent numbers and created a lot of noise, which made for a great atmosphere.
The Stags drew first blood on 14 minutes, when Chris Clements delivered a testing free kick into the visitors box, where the Imps keeper Paul Farman had inexplicably gone walkabout, off of his line ... and as he struggled to recover his position, to deal with the danger, Mansfield's captain John Dempster got a touch on the ball and nodded it against the right hand upright, where it ricocheted back into play and Farman inadvertently and unluckily toe poked it into his own goal. 
Farman redeemed himself shortly afterwards, with a brilliant double save.
Louis Briscoe's cross found Ben Hutchinson, who's goal bound effort was blocked by the visitors number 1, who then somehow managed to keep out Matt Green's close range follow up from the rebound, with an outstretched arm, even though he was still on the ground from making the initial save.
An excellent reflex save, that kept the Imps in the game at a time when Mansfield threatening to take control for a while.
Dempster almost netted his and the Stags second goal, when he got his head to a Chris Clements corner and this time Paul Farman had Tom Miller to thank for clearing his lines for him.
At this point, Lincoln weren't even in the game and it was only the Stags profligate endeavours in front of the visitors goal, that meant they were only enjoying the luxury of a single goal lead.
Lincoln's outspoken boss David Holdsworth, used to be in charge of Mansfield Town.
He wasn't the worst manger they've ever had. But, that said, he quite possibly wouldn't get picked, even at the lower end, of a poll amongst fans, to pick the best 25 Mansfield Town managers ever had, either.
For the record, he slots in between Stuart Boam and Billy McEwan on my sliding scale.
After Mansfield had beaten Lincoln fair and square last season, Holdsworth claimed his side had been beaten by a side who played like a rugby team ... So I was surprised (I wasn't really, I'm being sarcastic), to see, that not only were the Imps employing a direct approach tonight, but they were also copying Paul Cox's tactical approach, whereby Exodus Geohaghon launches long throw ins towards the opposition penalty area at frequent intervals. Lincoln's long throw specialist is Dan Gray.
But no doubt, in David Holdsworth's head, his team aren't long ball and hoof merchants and that kind of label only ever applies to the opposition.
After all, anyone who could describe himself as being 'a pragmatic alchemist' in a live interview on BBC Radio Nottingham, when he asked for his views on why the Stags had just lost a game when he was still in charge at Field Mill, sees the world slightly differently to the rest of us, who don't live inside a bubble of self important delusion.
He seems to be in a happy place though and he is harmless, so lets just leave him to get on with it, eh!?
Against the run of play, Lincoln equalised shortly before the break, when a smash and grab raid, saw ex-Stags player Adam Smith, chased a long ball over the home side's back four, marginally springing their offside trap and leaving the stranded defence in his wake, before neatly slotting the ball over ex-Imps goalkeeper Alan Marriott, to make it one all.
Half time came and by the skin of his fluky teeth, the football purist genius, that is David Holdsworth, saw his team go off at the interval on level terms.
Alas, he doesn't do humility (or reality), but instead, left the pitch at half time, giving those of us at the players tunnel end of the lower west the 'big one', gesturing to us and behaving like he'd just actually won the FA Cup itself, rather than accepting the facts: i.e. Lincoln were lucky not to have been 3-0 down by now.
I'm sure he'll get a job at Blackpool Tower Circus or at least be good material for an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show, to turn his own gag about the youngsters in the Quarry Lane End at Field Mill back round on him, when his bubble finally bursts at Sincil Bank and he's looking for a fresh challenge befitting of his talents.
Just a thought here ... a lot of football fans have been involved in highly publicised incidents recently, where they've been pilloried for being abusive towards players and managers (and rightly so, in a couple of cases). So what did the stewards and police do about an ex-Stags manager taunting a section of the crowd?
Err, nothing actually.
And what did that particular section of the crowd, which contained a whole load of the sort of people you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alleyway, do in response?
Laughed at him, long and hard.
Never mind the enthralling game of football we were all enjoying, there was a clown chucked as half time entertainment too, at no extra cost.
Mansfield came storming out of the blocks after the break, looking to regain the lead.
John Dempster warmed Paul Farman's hands again, as the Imps dealt with a couple of spirited attacks, but Lincoln were soon on the front foot and began to take the game to their hosts and generated a wave of attacks of their own, turning the game completely on its head.
From being in the ascendancy, Mansfield were now coming under a lot of pressure and being forced to defend deeper and deeper, back into their own half, quite often only leaving Lindon Meikle up front on his own, to hunt for the ball, when it was lofted up field from a string of clearances.
If the Stags were to lose now, then they would only have themselves to blame for not forcing the issue in the first half when they had the visitors goal under siege for a while.
Alan Marriott had to be alert to save a Jamie Taylor header, as the Imps upped the tempo and began to look like the team most likely to grab an all important second goal.
Lincoln's equaliser on 40 minutes had come completely against the run of play and the same could be said of Louis Briscoe's strike for the Stags on 77 minutes.
But I don't care!
Get in!
Anthony Howell, who was immense for the Stags tonight, putting in possibly the best ever shift I've from him in the amber and blue of Mansfield Town, knocked a sideways pass across the Lincoln area to Louis Briscoe, who thumped home an unstoppable shot past Paul Farman.
The Stags had the better of the first half by miles, but the Lincoln fans, packed into the North Stand, must've been gutted to see their side go behind after they had bust a gut since the interval.
I think Mansfield Town need some new batteries for their scoreboard, because the last 13 minutes on the countdown clock seemed to take forever to reach zero.
And when the 4th official held up his board to indicate that there would be a further 3 minutes of stoppage time (cue a big cheer from the away end and a collective groan from the Stags fans), I'd swear blind that time actually started going backwards.
Eventually, the referee found which pocket he'd lost his whistle in and the Stags were through to the 3rd round of the FA Cup.
Lincoln ran Mansfield very close tonight, but (marginally) not close enough.
On the balance of play for the whole 90 +3 minutes, the Stags (just) deserved to go through, but I reckon that balance probably finished something like 53%/47% in Paul Cox's sides favour. Anthony Howell, Chris Clements and John Dempster all deserve to have praise heaped on them for their efforts throughout the game. The whole team do, but those three in particular, were exceptional tonight.
There were jubilant scenes as some of the Stags fans invaded the pitch to celebrate and their was a moment of pure comedy as two police officers escorted the previously vociferous Imps manager back to his dressing room. It would be fair to say, that he wasn't being half as cocky and chirpy as he was the last time he passed by that way. Though, of course, 'sound-bite man' soon found his voice again once somebody put a microphone in front of him. His post match comments were hilarious, as always.
Now if you asked Mansfield fans to compose a list of who they thought were the funniest comedians ever, Holdsworth would win that hands down.
Bye, bye David, enjoy watching the Stags on TV in the next round ;-)
By the time we'd reached Ollerton roundabout, I'd already had messages from three so called Liverpool fans, asking about tickets for the 3rd round, I ignored all of them.
The only message I replied to was the one from the Retford Imps, who said the better team on the night had won and good luck in the next round. I replied that it was a close run thing and refused to gloat.
Stags fans have been through some very thin times over the past few years, but Lincoln fans have too.
Even though they're local rivals, there is a common empathy and a lot of mutual respect and understanding between the two respective camps, given the similar set of circumstances both sets of fans have been subjected to.
However ... Felice, Barry, Barlow (G), Barlow (A), Tommo and the ever lovely Linz (wit woo!), your boys took a hell of ... err, that was bloody close!
Left click for enlarged image
Hopefully, there will be a few more photos from the game on THE66POW soon.
I left the camera they're on in Mansfield, it was last seen heading over the advertising boards in the hands of a very immature 30 something 'lady', who was striding in the general direction David Holdsworth, shouting the kind of profanities that have no place on a 'self indulgent bullshit blog', that caters for family audience.