AFC Mansfield’s title aspirations took a knock as they went down 2-1 in a competitive local Windsor Foodservices Central Midlands League Black Dragon North Division derby at Ollerton.
Forced to make changes due to player unavailability, Bulls manager Micky Taylor fielded an unfamiliar back four with Sam Holmes at right back, while Danny Wiltshire started after his return from Shirebrook Town.
Dean Rick had the first chance on goal after just eight minutes, the striker racing clear of the home defence but seeing his shot beat keeper Simon Smith and drift wide of the far post.
Ollerton’s first chance came on 15 minutes with Lee Easom heading wide from eight yards.
The first of some contentious decisions came on the half-hour mark when Danny Tighe put a low cross into the Ollerton box.
A defender clearly blocked the cross with his arm and, with the referee only yards away, even the Ollerton faithful couldn’t believe it when a penalty wasn’t given.
Matt Draper should have got his header on target just before half-time but headed Tighe’s free kick over the bar.
The second half started in much the same vein and both sides had questions for the referee as he continued to turn down legitimate appeals.
Danny Wiltshire saw his 15-yard drive well saved by Smith on 55 minutes and Dean Rick fired wide inside the box as the Bulls pushed for an opener.
Joe Naylor headed wide on 70 minutes and it looked as if the game would finish goalless at this point.
But the opening goal came just four minutes later. AFC gave away a free kick 25 yards out and, when Jamie Senior’s kick took a massive deflection off the wall, all keeper Dale Sheppard could do was watch the ball spin into the net.
The Bulls changed their formation, going to three at the back and pushing Sam Holmes into midfield.
This left holes at the back and Aaron Norman nearly exploited this on 79 minutes, racing down the right, turning inside Carter before forcing a good save out of Sheppard.
Another clear penalty was waved away as a goalbound effort from Joe Naylor was blocked on the line by an Ollerton defender’s arm.
At the other end there was another shout for a penalty as Sam Holmes made a forceful challenge on Lee Easom, again the referee was having none of it.
However, Ollerton made it 2-0 on 80 minutes, Senior turning neatly in the box and firing a low drive that had Sheppard stretching but unable to reach as the ball nestled into the far corner of the net.
AFC Mansfield were eventually awarded a penalty in the last minute, ironically the softest of all the penalty appeals and given by the referee and Dean Rick cheekily chipped the ball down the middle as Smith dived to his right to give the Bulls a consolation goal.
It was a deserved victory for the home side for a hard-working display and AFC Mansfield will have to pull their socks up and look to improve if they want to top the league at the end of the season.
Elsewhere Thoresby CW went down 4-1 at home to Harworth CI while, in the Black Dragon South Division, Southwell were smashed 7-0 by Clifton All Whites.