AFC Mansfield 2, Hall Road Rangers 1
Saturday August 5
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Forest Town Arena
Match Report by Neil Winsor
CRAIG Mitchell broke Hall Road hearts, as the substitute popped up to score with the last kick of the game to see AFC Mansfield edge out Rangers in the FA Cup.
The game appeared to be heading to a midweek replay after Hall Road had battled back via Josh Batty’s first half header to cancel out Ollie Fearon’s opener for the hosts.
However Mitchell tapped home deep in added time to capitilise on a poor clearance by Rangers keeper David Birch.
The result was harsh on Hall Road who despite been edged out in the first half had shown great character to earn a draw.
It wasn’t to be though as AFC Mansfield will face either Retford United or Quorn who ground out a 1-1 draw in their cup tie yesterday afternoon.
Rangers boss Dave Ricardo was without Phil Dobson (unavailable) and Gareth Owen (suspended) so he handed debuts to keeper Birch as well as Louis Bruce and Harry Fox.
Matty Crane and Kent Bannister, two other recent signings were named as substitutes.
James Piercy therefore took the captaincy for the first time whilst Conner Harman and Tom Bennett featured in midfield.
The hosts settled the better and almost opened the scoring within seconds of the kick off when a cross-come-shot clipped the top of the crossbar.
AFC Mansfield threatened largely from out wide with the lively Ollie Fearon the main architect of the hosts good play.
The hosts leading scorer from last season tried an ambitious overhead kick from outside the area on eleven minutes but failed to hit the target, whilst Birch pulled off a decent save to turn round the post a minute later.
It was Fearon who opened the scoring though to give the hosts a deserved lead on 14 minutes.
Although with a hint of offside, play was allowed to continue and a further two man move inside the Rangers penalty area on the left, saw Fearon slide home from close range.
They should of doubled their lead on 24 minutes.
A long pass through the middle caused indeciveness between Birch who had come racing out of his goal and his centre-backs and whilst nobody claimed the ball Nick Guest nipped in but he could only lob wide of the goal from outside the penalty area.
It took 30 minutes for Hall Road to stamp their authority on the match with Chris Spinks powering a powerful drive past the far post after an original effort was blocked.
Fearon was to go close again for AFC Mansfield missing a great chance after Jack Binns played the attack onside.
The earlier goalscorer though again missing the target.
As an element of frustration came into Hall Road’s play Tom Bennett was booked for a foul on the half way-line.
AFC Mansfield missed another great chance on 41 minutes through Guest.
The former Garforth Town striker latched onto a nodded through ball but his weak effort was gathered by Birch.
Hall Road dragged themselves level though from a set-piece three minutes before the break as they punished some over complacent finishing from the hosts.
Chris Spinks whipped in a trademark pin-point cross to the near stick from a free-kick.
With boots and bodies flying in to try and clear, it was Josh Batty who bravely threw himself at the ball to head home to level matters.
AFC Mansfield 1, (Ollie Fearon 14),
Hall Road Rangers 1 (Josh Batty 41)
The equaliser before the break restored Rangers confidence as in terms of an attacking threat as they more then matched their NCEL Premier Division counterparts.
Jimmy Ghaichem had an effort saved by Birch before Spinks rattled a powerful effort which was parried clear by Jamie Green.
Going into the final third of the match the game was finely poised with all three results a possibility.
Ollie Fearon hit the side netting whilst backpeddling to nod a deep cross goalwards before Batty cleverly latched on to a ball downfield but could only lob one straight at Green.
Dave Ricardo made his first change on 63 minutes which saw Harry Fox replaced by Matty Crane.
On 67 minutes, Ghaichem went close for a second time clipping his effort just over the bar after excellent pressure from Sam Belcher, whilst Tom Bennett bravely blocked a thunderous drive from outside the area a minute later.
Bennett showed he is equally adept at going forward when he slid a through pass for Spinks to run onto, and last season’s 26 goal hit-man stung the palms of Green with an angled pile-driver with 20 minutes remaining.
Rangers then made their second change on 76 minutes with Spinks making way for debutant Kent Bannister.
The newcomer made his presence immediate as he was involved in Rangers next move.
After finding Josh Batty, the former Winterton man was unable to get his shot off so he unselfishly laid the ball out left to Danny Norton who cut inside onto his favoured right foot and narrowly curled his effort over the bar.
As the clock ticked down Conner Harman was carded for abruptly halting a charge down the right flank by Fearon.
Although not a favoured option by the hosts, and maybe Rangers who had edged the second half, the game was seemingly heading to a Tuesday night replay at Haworth Park and James Whittingham was a late substitution for Norton maybe signalling Rangers were willing to accept a replay going into the final minutes.
Fate had other ideas though when AFC Mansfield advanced with the last kick of the game.
Birch came out of his goal on the right hand side to snuff out an AFC Mansfield pass out of midfield.
Birch then tried to send the ball downfield when maybe putting the ball out of play was a better option, and in turn could only find an opponent who cleverly sent the ball back goalwards and susbtitute Craig Mitchell was on hand to slide home at the far post, past Birch who had tried to race back into his goal.
They appeared to be a few moments of confusion on the terrace as it maybe appeared that referee David Jones had called time before Mitchell scored, this however was not the case and the goal stood, with time been called immediately after the goal.
AFC Mansfield 2 (Ollie Fearon 14, Craig Mitchell 90 +4 )
Hall Road Rangers 1 (Josh Batty 41)