AFC Mansfield take the Central Midlands League and the county of Nottinghamshire’s hopes into the second round of the FA Carlsberg Vase after a thrilling 5-2 win away at Step 5 side Northampton Sileby Rangers on Saturday.
Goals from Callum Green and Mark Carter in normal time and two from Dean Rick and a second from Carter in extra-time sent the Bulls home happy after their third victory in this competition against higher league opposition.
The Bulls’were without several players due to various reasons, most notably influential midfielder Joe Naylor. The squad, however, are a resilient bunch and, with the return of last season’s captain Steve McGurk, manager Micky Taylor was confident he could get a result.
Sileby started the game more brightly, their slick passing game was a joy to watch and AFC had problems straight away.
It didn’t take long for the home side to go in front. Allowed too much time in front of goal, Tom Glasscoe put his 25-yard effort into the top right hand corner well out of Dale Sheppard’s reach and it was first blood to the home side.
Mark Carter shot tamely at Liam Stanton on 14 minutes and Dean Rick saw his low drive go the wrong side of the far post two minutes later as AFC set about restoring the balance.
Rick hoisted his effort over the bar with just Stanton to beat on 27 minutes and Phil Buxton saw his shot saved by Stanton on 32 minutes.
The home side were having plenty of possession and moving the ball around quickly, Karabo Motshweni and Clinton Dislemo the two wide players, seeing plenty of the ball.
The Bulls’ were just about turning the corner when the first 45 minutes ended but were still behind to the ninth minute Glasscoe strike.
The second half started more brightly for the visitors with Stanton plucking Rick’s cross off the head of Callum Green to keep the home side’s one goal advantage.
This, however, was undone on 59 minutes when Danny McLane’s pass found Carter free on the left. Carter advanced into the box and then cleverly squared the ball to Callum Green who fired home from eight yards to bring the scores level.
AFC were showing the more physical side of their game and Sileby were beginning to wilt.
AFC then took the lead on 70 minutes when Stanton could only parry Green’s shot and Mark Carter found himself in the right spot to smash the ball home from 12 yards.
The final 20 minutes saw both teams make changes and although Sileby enjoyed plenty of the ball in front of AFC they could not get behind them and the visitors thought they had done enough.
However, a minute from time saw AFC dealt a devastating blow. An innocuous free kick was given by the at times over fussy referee, and when AFC had the chance to clear, the ball dropped to home captain Caspar Coombes, who gratefully fired home from 10 yards.
The Mansfield side were shellshocked and the first 10 minutes of the first period of extra-time belonged to Sileby, but again it was plenty of possession but no penetration as Matt Draper and Chris Timons showed all their experience to keep the home side at bay.
AFC finally got back into the game and, when Dean Rick challenged Stanton for a loose ball, Rick was quickest to the ball when it came back off the post to fire home from three yards and spark wild celebrations.
Unfortunately manager Micky Taylor was sent from the dugout after going on the pitch to celebrate with the players, something that the Sileby management were allowed to do without sanction when they equalised.
The second period of extra-time was barely a minute old when Callum Green received his marching orders after being booked for what he felt was a fair tackle and over-protesting his innocence to the offence.
The Bulls’had 13 minutes to hold out, or so everybody thought. Declan Brewin, on for the very impressive Craig Cantrell, broke down the right and when his low drive was parried by Stanton, his follow-up spun off a defender and again in the right place at the right time Mark Carter headed powerfully home to make it 4-2 with 10 minutes to go.
AFC weren’t finished yet, though, and Dean Rick showed all his power to hold off the challenge of Toby Cleaver.
Stanton saved his initial effort but again Rick was quickest to react firing home the loose ball to send 10-man AFC Mansfield into the next round.
There was still time for a penalty at the other end when Dale Sheppard bought down Motshweni, the keeper showing his quality to save Glasscoe’s spot kick and cap off a great day for the Bulls.
AFC return to league action on Wednesday night when they entertain Clay Cross Town at Forest Town Stadium. But all eyes will be on the draw to see who they will get in the second round of the FA Vase.
SILEBY RANGERS: Stanton, Baxter, Coombes, Glasscoe, Cleaver, Woodward, Motshweni, Thompson (Watkins 74), McCoy (Merryweather 70), O’Sullivan, Dismelo (Entwistle 84). Subs not used: White, Chatfield.
AFC MANSFIELD: Sheppard, Tighe, McLane, Draper, Timons, Naylor D. (McGurk 77), Cantrell (Brewin 85), Buxton, Rick, Green Carter. Subs not used: Rodger, Meehan, Easom.
REFEREE: Oliver Deene of Oxford.
AFC MAN OF THE MATCH: Callum Green.