It was a late night for the 60 paying customers at the Forest Town Stadium last night, as AFC Mansfield ran out 2-1 winners over a brave Staveley Miners Welfare after extra time in the Fourth Round of the NCEL League Cup-and Bulls Assistant Manager Mark Ward felt that is it was just what the doctor ordered for his players after an extended period of weather-related disruption, writes Colin Muncie.
The Trojans took the lead with just fifteen minutes left, but Ollie Fearon’s 36th goal of the season sent the tie into an additional half-hour and with nine minutes left of the extra period, Craig Mitchell won the tie for the home side.
Mark told the Bootiful Game “Truth be told, we’re very happy that we got the game on because as good ,and as regular, as we’ve been with training, the Cup game last night was a little bit of a wake- up call for us. We tampered with the formation and personnel, trying to keep players involved and interested, and to put themselves into contention for up-and-coming games and I’m glad we did because Staveley definitely gave us a good test”.
Mark felt his players got off to a slower start than he’d have liked “ I’ve got to say we didn’t start well and couldn’t seem to get a foot hold in the game” he admitted “Credit to Staveley for that. They came out of the blocks well, pressed and harried us all over the park, and edged the first half, winning more battles around the pitch. In the second half I thought we were better; the game was still a bit “you have a go, we have a go” but I think the changes we made had the impact we were looking for.”
The AFC Assistant Manager made a trio of heavyweight changes later in that second half “ Duds (Mark Dudley), Cam (Dear) and Fearo (Ollie Fearon) got us on the front foot and the longer the game went we looked to get stronger” Mark noted “ Overall I think our fitness and bits of real quality won us a fairly even game.
Mark, as usual, took time out for a few kind words for his opposite numbers. “I just want to add, that talking to Brett (Marshall, Staveley’s Manager and Wardy (Assistant Paul Ward) after the game, they’ve had a bit of rough season. I take my hat off to them for not chucking the towel in and to Terry Damms who, as a Chairman, has stuck by them through the transition they’re going through-and I wish them all the best in the run- in”.
Staveley’s Connor Williamson was delighted with his side’s reaction to their home defeat to Penistone Church at the weekend. He told us “The lads have now set their standards, and if they want to stay in the league that’s what is expected. It was the best performance I have seen from them all. We pushed the League leaders all the way and probably deserved the win and a place in the next round”
“All the best to Rudy, Mark Ward and rest of the AFC Mansfield team for the rest of the Cup run”.