at the Recreation Ground, Scrooby Road, Bircotes
Central Midlands League (North)
Harworth Colliery (0) 0
AFC Mansfield (3) 5
Joe Naylor 12, Mark Carter 26, 78,
Carl Haslam 39, Dale Sheppard 87
Admission £3, Programme £1, Attendance 37
Left click crap photos for slightly larger versions.
Thank goodness I'm getting my new camera on Monday.
Mark Latham, Jordan Hardman, Simon Brewster, David Cornthwaite, James Woodward, Gareth Sides, Tom Walker, Jonny Bownes, Chris Belshaw, Tom Padgett, Tom Pick.
Subs - Matt Smith, Lee Edmondson, Brendan Wilson.
Dale Sheppard, Ricky Chambers, Danny McClune, Joe Meehan, Steve McGurk, Danny Naylor, Paul Buxton, Joe Naylor, Dean Rick, Carl Haslam, Mark Carter
Subs - Mark Robinson, Mark Stainforth, Callum Green, Graeme Rodger, Ed Eley
My Stags pals, en route to Essex, to watch Mansfield Town beat struggling Braintree Town and all but confirm they are going up as champions of the Blue Square Bet Premier, are bombarding me with stories about a 'lively' day out (at least by staying on 'home turf', I won't be spending the night in a cell), Hibs are getting turned over 3-0 by Falkirk in the Scottish Cup Semi Final ... and given their first half performance on Tuesday night against today's table topping opposition, I'm quietly confident and cautiously optimistic that Harworth won't be overawed this afternoon, by the size of the task they're going to face.
Besides, they have a secret weapon to unleash on their unsuspecting visitors today, Daine McGrain, the Under 19's powerhouse centre forward, is going to be making his first team debut.
And best of all, it isn't a cup final today, so I don't feel obliged to wear my one size fits all, HCFC committee shirt, that makes me look like an on the run, mental patient from Rampton Hospital, who disguised himself as a Michelen Man to make good his escape. And no, the initials on it do not stand for 'Really Wide' either!
So, what could possibly go wrong?Err ... well, just about everything I've just mentioned actually.
And more besides.
It's too late to press gang any of the third team who are just about to kick off their game (which they lost 7-1 to Ackworth United) on the adjacent pitch, to plug the gaps, the reserves are away from home and it's going to have to be a case of make do and mend.
Lee Edmondson is so ill, that he was told to wrap up well and get comfortable in the corner of the dug out and stay there, because his role today, was to give AFC Mansfield the impression that we had strength in depth to name three subs ... though eagle eyed readers will have noticed, that in the event, both teams actually did this, by including the names of management staff who are registered as players, to bolster the numbers on the bench.
However, the visitors did have Carl Haslam back in their starting line up today, which is always a big advantage when you are under strength and carrying a few knocks and ailments.
From the first attack, the Bulls keeper Dale Sheppard, plucked Chris Belshaw's cross from James Woodward's head, but Woody's momentum saw him crash to the ground.
As the captain was one of those who had started the game, despite feeling very ill, it looked as though he would be coming off right at the outset.
But in the event he soldiered on until half time, but didn't return after the interval.
With just over twenty minutes gone, AFC Mansfield were two goals up, courtesy of strikes from Joe Naylor and Mark Carter, the same two players who had scored in the Floodlit Cup, on Tuesday night.
The Bulls captain Steve McGurk took a knock and had to go off, hes been suffering for a while, but that won't have helped to speed up his recovery time any.
Carl Haslam showed a burst of pace and advanced menacingly on Harworth's goal, but Woodward stuck his leg out and back-heeled the ball away.
There was a shout for 'handball!', but it was a fairly optimistic one, from a guy who's guide dog told him to shut up and stop being daft.
Carl Haslam, sprinted clear of the Harworth defendces attentions, chasing a long ball, knocked over a static back four and Mark Latham in the Colliery goal was left exposed, he had two options: 1) Stand his ground and let the prolific marksman pick his spot, or 2) charge from his line to narrow the angle and risk getting lobbed. He chose the latter ... and Haslam dinked the ball over him and into the net.
You can't blame the keeper for that one.
He can't play against them on his own.
HT - Harworth Colliery 0 v AFC Mansfield 3
That obnoxious team from Leith (near Edinburgh) were in the process of turning a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 win (never mind they'll get gubbed in the Scottish Cup Final anyway), while Mansfield Town were experiencing a bit of a 'squeaky bum time' and surrendering a 1-0 lead at Braintree, where they ultimately lost 2-1.
But Harworth's plight, unfolding before my own eyes, was compounding my misery far more than I ever imagined it could do.
I can't remember exactly when I stopped being somebody who merely helped at at Scrooby Road occasionally and actually started to care about this football club, but my pangs of misery throughout the second half, kind of indicated that my transformation was almost complete and I'm officially part of it all up here now.
For better or for worse, 'til death us do part ... hook, line and bleedin' sinker!
Thankfully, Carl Haslam (cheers mate) tried overdoing it with some trickery in the Harworth six yard box and squandered a great chance to make it four nil.
Moments later, Paul Buxton's snap shot from outside the box, was well covered by Mark Latham.
Tom Padgett put Tom Pick (another of the walking wounded) through into the visitors box, but with the goal in his range, Danny Naylor put in a great saving tackle.
Paul Buxton knocked a defence splitting pass through the left channel, Mark Carter timed his run to perfection and the visitors were four ahead.
Grr! Why had I foolishly let myself believe, that there might have been a way back into this game? When the outcome was fairly inevitable before a ball had even been kicked.
Tom Pick lobbed the ball wide of the Bulls goal after combining with Matt Smith. It was a tired effort from a player who was obviously completely knackered, but who had to stay on for the remainder of the game, because there was no replacement available.
Carl Haslam made himself some space inside the Harworth box and rattled a shot against the upright.
I think he'd probably seen how agitated and distraught I was becoming and hit the post on purpose, because he didn't want to add to my pain ... you're too kind Hazza!
Dean Rick was withdrawn by AFC Mansfield (approximately 80 minutes too late in my opinion), he didn't score today, but his input to his sides win was immense.
Ed Eley came on from the bench and went in goal, while Dale Sheppard, moved into an outfield role.
He nearly scored with a 20 yard free kick, but that would've been taking the p*** ... so he scored a goal that went in off his shin in the 87th minute instead. FFS!
FT - Harworth Colliery 0 v AFC Mansfield 5