Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Mansfield Town 1 v Cardiff City 4 - FA Cup R3 Replay

Tuesday 16th January 2018
FA Cup Third Round Replay
at the One Call Stadium/Field Mill
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Danny Rose 35
Cardiff City (1) 4
Bruno Ecuele Manga 34
Junior Hoilett 66, 89
Anthony Pilkington 71
Admission £12. Programme £2
Attendance 5,746 (inc. 514 away)
These two sides played out a goalless draw at the Cardiff City Stadium (Stadiwm Dinas Caerdydd) ten days ago, which necessitated tonight's keenly anticipated replay.
During the interim, the draw for the Fourth Round was made and it was decreed that the winner of tonight's game would play a home tie on Sunday 28th January, against Premier League champions elect Manchester City, which will be screened live on BBC1.
Ultimately Neil Warnock's Bluebirds had a shade too much quality and physicality about them for their hosts, who had given Cardiff a real scare for most of the first half, but couldn't quite sustain their impressive work rate
and attacking application after the break, when two goals within five minutes of each other, deep into the second half, dealt the Stags a real body blow that they struggled to recover from for the remainder of the game.
The visitors almost drew first blood when Junior Hoilett was thwarted by Conrad Logan, who did well to tip a goal bound effort round his left hand upright.
Hoilett himself, was yellow carded for an absolute shocker of a studs up lunge at Alex MacDonald, who was lucky not to sustain a serious injury. The visitors number thirty three was very lucky not to have been sent off on the spot and the sense of injustice was heightened when he went on to score (twice) later in the game.
Joel Byrom played the resulting free kick into the path of Mal Benning, whose first time shot on the run from just to the left hand side of the visitors goal, cleared the bar. It was evidently a far more difficult chance to convert, than it probably appeared, given the pace and angle that he received the ball at.
CJ Hamilton and Danny Rose both went close as The Stags continued to apply pressure on Neil Etheridge's goal, but having absorbed a spell of pressure, Cardiff countered, and against the run of play took the lead in the thirty fourth minute, when Bruno Ecuele Manga got a decisive touch after Logan pushed the ball away from Sean Morrison's header across the goal from Joe Ralls' right wing corner.
The home side's defence complained that Morrison had fouled Krystian Pearce in the build up to the goal, to no avail, because match referee: Geoff Eltringham, was obviously in the mood to let a bit of strong-arm stuff by the Championship side go unpunished.
But Mansfield didn't let another oversight by the ref knock them out of their stride and within sixty seconds, they were on level terms and keeping the dream alive, when Byrom passed to Hayden White who crossed in towards Rhys Bennett, whose downward header took a deflection into the path of Danny Rose and Etheridge couldn't do anything about the prolific striker's clinical finish.
HT: Stags 1 v Bluebirds 1
Both sides went toe to toe for the opening twenty minutes of the second half, during which time it looked for all the world as if the visitors had been told at half time, to kick any Mansfield player who showed any kind of creativity and attacking intentions. Their six yellow cards, one which could and should've been red, spoke volumes for the Welsh sides approach.
It would be churlish to pick fault after such an impressive effort from Mansfield, against a team who currently sit fifty one places above Steve Evans side in the Football League, but the two aforementioned goals (Cardiff's second and third) both came about when the home side's defence struggled to deal with a succession of crosses from the right flank.
The first one saw Hoilett nip across his marker and turn Callum Patterson's delivery inside the post and shortly afterwards Loic Damour repeated the low right wing cross routine and Anthony Pilkington took advantage of the Stags hesitant defending.
The 'double whammy' had deflated the home side and though the supporters and management alike tried to get them going again, Cardiff had effectively done the job that they had come to do now and saw the game out comfortably now and all of the Stags vainglorious effort for the first hour or so was going to amount to nothing, while the Bluebirds had bagged themselves a money spinning fourth round tie.
To rub Mansfield's noses in it, Hoilett (he, who in my humble opinion shouldn't even have still been on the pitch after his rash challenge on MacDonald during the first half) claimed a second goal for himself and a fourth for the visitors, in the very last minute, when Omar Bogle had set up a chance for him outside the Stags area, after a long punt from Etheridge had been helped on towards him by Pilkington.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Cardiff City 4
The Stags now find themselves in a position where they are concentrating on the League.
But... on tonight's evidence, if they can carry on where they left off after sixty odd minutes, then their season is potentially about to pick up a real head off steam as they push on with their quest to make a big dent in the play off places.