Nobody wanted a replay at 5PM Saturday when the full time whistle blew signalling a 1-1 draw, but the fact remained a replay would be needed and by Monday morning everyone seemed fine with it. In fact I’d say that moral and belief wise things were good, seeing off Fleetwood and getting a home tie with League One strugglers Wycombe Wanders wasn’t impossible. Everybody was ready and rearing to go as the heads collectively hit the pillows on Monday night, but now sat reflecting on the final score a day after the game, I’m beginning to wonder what the hell happened to burst our bubble between failing asleep Monday, and waking up Tuesday!
It would appear on reflection that someone wanting Mansfield to win, walked underneath a million ladders and smashed every mirror ever made – nobody, not even mystic Meg, could foresee Tuesday’s events – in fact whoever wrote Tuesday’s script was one evil git!
First of all reports of a traffic problem flooded through, it emerged through Martin Riley’s Twitter that the Stags team coach had become stuck on the motorway, after the M61 was closed due to a chemical spillage. The team had to scrap there pre-match meal and we’re stuck on the coach for around 5 hours without a break, at one point it looked likely they would fail to make it in time to kick off.
Fortunately we’d received news of the problems in good time and we’re able to plan another route, however we too were soon hindered as such a closure saw people look for another route themselves, the M6 around Preston became jammed and then closed by traffic cops – the only option for us to make it in time was the M62 followed by the M55, both had road works causing delays! For a while I had visions of Boston in pre-season as it took us half an hour to move half a mile – however we got a little lucky weaving our way through the obstacles and onto open road, it looked like we’d arrive in plenty of time to set up, relax and go live for 7.30PM! Unfortunately the script writer threw another twist in the tale as eight miles from the ground, our cars lights failed. After a quick stop we’re we pushed and kicked everything the lights still wouldn’t work, we decided to brave it and head on in the darkness with just our flash lights and brake lights guiding us – Those we’re the slowest and most scariest eight miles in my entire life, but as the saying goes THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
Arriving at the ground around 7.10PM it was a rush to find tickets and entrance, luckily myself and Scott we’re aiding by the arrival of Fleetwood journalist Natalia Bradford who led the way. Somehow we we’re set up and on air just 2 minutes later than planned, I was praying for my Mansfield Town to come out, smash Fleetwood and send me home smiling – it’s just a shame the writer had other ideas as news of an Illness bug spreading through the stags camp.
Mansfield we’re to be under the guidance of assistant Micky Moore as Paul Cox had been hit by a virus and was unfit to travel, leading scorer Matt Green was also hit with the bug and also didn’t travel meaning Moore was forced into one change bringing in Louis Moult. Completing the hat-trick of Sick Notes was keeper Shane Redmond, meaning the stags we’re without a reserve keeper on the bench. Moult’s inclusion and Redmond’s absence meant the bench had two empty seats – John Thompson filled one seat, but the other was left vacant, meaning for the Stags we’re unable to name a full bench. When you look back, the Stags bench consisted of a youth teamer (all be it one with bags of quality), a half fit striker, a young full back whose struggling with a knee problem, two defenders who are yet to make a first team appearance all season and the player coach!
In summary, Mansfield we’re hit with traffic problems, an absent manager, a lack of pre-match grub, an unfilled bench and more – even Stevie Wonder could see the final outcome against a side with quality bursting at the seams!
Micky Moore was boosted by Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley and Ben Futcher all playing as the trio had bugs, and opted to go with a 4-3-3, however less than 30 seconds in saw Fleetwood going 4-2-4, the stags opted for a 4-5-1, making the one change as mentioned above, from Saturday.
Ritchie Sutton – Ben Futcher – Martin Riley – Luke O’Neill
Louis Moult (Green) – Adam Murray (C) – Paul Bolland – Anthony Howell – Lindon Meikle
BENCH: John Thompson – Paul Connor – Matt Bell – Andy Todd – Rhys Day (named as sub keeper!) – Adam Somes
As illness hit Mansfield got the game underway, they looked for an early cure attacking with intent and earning a corner curtsey of good link up play between Dyer & Moult, however Luke O’Neill’s delivery was too strong and a goal kick was given, with just a minute on the clock.
Fleetwood knocked the ball around well and exploited space as, even from the off, Stags looked lacklustre and lethargic and with just five on the clock, the hosts nearly found the break through. Jamie Vardy made it wide left skipping easily past Ritchie Sutton, Richard Brodie found a gap inside the box and after being fed by his strike partner, smashed the ball against the bar before having another attempt as the ball rebounded back to him, this time the pink shirted Alan Marriott sprung himself well to rescue Mansfield.
Marriott’s terrific save saw Fleetwood eager to put the ball past him, despite a Moult effort which landed a fair distance wide for the Stags, it was all one way traffic as Fleetwood again passed strongly and tightly to work the space and create the openings. Marriott was very much the hero for the Stags keeping the scores locked at 0-0, With 22 on the clock Fleetwood burst free but failed to beat the Stags keeper, Jamie Vardy saw his powerful effort wonderfully saved, Marriott sprung up quickly to also deny Seddon who smashed the loose ball towards the target.
As with the script of the night, Marriott’s luck was bound to end and he was finally beaten on 28 minutes, Jamie Milligan swung in a deep free kick from just over the half way line and Mansfield we’re all at sea, a shot amongst a crowd of bodies was cleared off the line by Bolland, but as the ball looped up Richard Brodie popped up to tap home from close range and put the hosts ahead.
Fleetwood 1-0 Stags
Mansfield needed a response and should have got one straight from the restart, England C bound Lindon Meikle weaved his way down the left channel, leaving Shaun Beeley chasing the night air and watching on as Meikle whipped a strong cross in – burley midfielder Anthony Howell unbelievably skied his shot over the bar from the six yard line. With four minutes to go until the break, it was Fleetwood’s keeper Scott Davies who matched his opposite numbers heroics, Luke O’Neill swung in a decent free kick from 25 yards, Ben Futcher was first too it at the back stick, nodding goal wards only to be denied by an athletic stop from Davies.
A one goal deficit would have been welcome at the break considering the amount of pressure Fleetwood applied, however a minute into first half stoppage time Fleetwood added a second. Another Vardy run this time down the right was stopped by Riley, however his hesitance to clear saw Vardy retake possession, leaving Riley wondering what had happened as he played a neat ball across the middle to the unmarked Sean Clancy, who slotted home past Marriott to double the hosts lead.
Fleetwood 2-0 Stags
Mansfield had barely touched the ball before the half time whistle blew leaving Micky Moore with a massive task on his hands.
Half Time: Fleetwood 2-0 Stags
Something said in the dressing room seemed to have worked as the sides returned for second half action, there seemed to be a little more zest from the stags, showing some intent by switching to 4-4-2 with Moult & Meikle on the wings, whilst Howell joined Dyer up top, however despite the tactical change the stags created little and Fleetwood soon found there momentum again, knocking it through Stags’ defence like a knife through melting butter, Mansfield can only thank Brodie and Vardy for some truly woeful finishing – even by the hour mark the hosts should have been in double figures.
Both sides made changes with 67 minutes gone, Magno Vieira replaced Brodie for the hosts whilst player coach Andy Todd took Meikle’s place for the Stags much to the former Eastwood mans anger. Todd was briefly the more effective too, creating space wide left to allow Murray through the middle, the Stags skipper struck tamely at Davies and again the Stags momentum was lost.
Jamie Vardy should have killed the game off with a third on 72 minutes, taking on virtually every stags player, drawing Marriott from his line before chipping a shot wide, three minutes later, the hosts did add a third, a poor stags clearance saw them pay the ultimate price as Gareth Seddon picked up the loose ball and slotted easily past Marriott.
Fleetwood 3-0 Stags
Youth team hot shot Adam Somes then came onto make his Stags debut replacing Anthony Howell, the young forward who was top scorer in the young guns league before today (Wednesday) put himself about well and showed big Steve McNulty (scattered clapping!) he would not be pushed over. McNulty’s side we’re keen for a fourth however and we’re rewarded ten minutes from time, Martin Riley handballed inside the box and, after some Duffy/Medley like fighting, Jamie Milligan stepped up and converted past Marriott, who fir the first time all evening made no attempt to keep the ball out of the net.
Fleetwood 4-0 Stags
Rhys Day then replaced Riley with seven minutes left to play; this is day’s first outing in the first team since our 3-3 draw with Newport County in February following a series of injuries. Day’s addition was too little too late and the hosts we’re far from done with the stags as looked to wrap the night up with a 5th goal. Mango Vieira had the ball in the back of the net in injury time but saw his effort chalked off for offside, however Fleetwood got there reward 30 seconds later as former Wrexham front man Andy Mangan latched onto a deep ball from Goodall, making no mistake in putting the ball into the back of the net.
Fleetwood 5-0 Stags
There was no point in restarting play but it had to be done, as soon as Murray had restarted the game for the stags, the whistle was blown dumping the stags out of the cup and meaning that this would be the first time since 1931 we haven’t been in Round One. A new low.
Full Time: Fleetwood 5-0 Stags
I’ve joked around with the title and explained the situation with traffic jams and illness; however there are no excuses to be made, ill or not you should show some fight, determination and passion for the cause, truth is most of that disappeared after the first goal! I’m not pointing fingers at anybody nor am I shouting for mass changes or the management to be sacked – we must be braver than brave now, hold our hands up, admit our failings and remember that what doesn’t destroy us, can only make us stronger.
There are four positives to take from last night (yes, four!) and it’s those I will end on tonight. The first is Alan Marriott, he’s been criticised of late and despite conceding five, probably had one of his best games in a Mansfield shirt, had it not been for him Fleetwood WOULD have hit double figures.
The second positive is the return of Rhys Day, he may have only got seven minutes under his belt but with Ben Futcher going back to Bury in the next two weeks, Rhys will be the one to fill that gap, he needs to get used to the players around him and the tempo of the BSBP – no reserve team game will give you that.
The third positive is the fact Micky Moore decided to give young Adam Somes a run out ahead of Paul Connor late in the game, Somes put himself about well and has really worked hard to get his chance. It’s pleasing to see the management giving the youngsters valuable experience on the pitch alongside more senior players rather than keep them glued to the bench. Adam will keep progressing and will no doubt feature for the first team again, until then he’ll patiently keep playing for the youth team and keep scoring – well done Adam.
Finally, the inclusion of John Thompson on the bench was extremely pleasing. There was no way on earth the former Notts County defender was going to play last night having only played 160 minutes of football for the ‘reserves’ – however following that night in Ilkeston, for John to be back amongst the first team, in the dressing room, jogging up and down the touch line warming up – is great for his mental state as he recovers from an incident which could have ended his career.
Thanks for reading as ever, it’s easy to be disheartened after such a hefty defeat – I was not the best of people to be around this morning let me tell you! I haven’t made a podcast following the gap as I usually do, mainly because of time – there will be one online in the next few days but I doubt anyone will want to listen to it; we need to put the game to bed.
Bring on Saturday when Cambridge come to town, same place same time for regular updates – I must dash, I’ve a plan to help our players get better in time for Saturday (not the lesser twin revolving door) – Calpol!