A 'Bridge' Too Far West bridgeford 2 - 1 AFC mansfield

AFC Mansfield’s non-love affair with The Notts Senior Cup continued at West Bridgeford on Wednesday night. At this point I should add that West Bridgeford were full value for their win and thoroughly deserved it on the night. In 4 years of competing in the competition The Bulls record is woeful and it continues for another year.

Complacent, ragged with a distinct lack of interest and that was just the warm up! Some may argue that having played their 30th game of the season, yes 30th, the team are a little jaded. But other issues such as why so many players were unavailable on the night for what some consider an unimportant cup competition need to be addressed.

Last season the club said all along that we would concentrate on promotion in front of all other competitions and we achieved that goal. This season we have no such weighty issues to trouble us. Yes, we have done well in both the FA Cup and FA Vase and the 5 figure sum in prize money so far comes in very useful.

There were three teams on the field and West Bridgeford were the best by a country mile but as bad as we were the officials will have a shout as to who was worst. From the ball hitting our player square in the face and going out for a throw-in and the assistant giving us the throw to the referee’s Lilliputian strides as he measured out the distance for walls from free kicks it wasn’t a good night for the guardians of fair play. To be honest their next fixtures will probably produce much better performances, I wish I had that confidence in the team’s next performance.

Onto the game, the hosts started like a bullet from a gun and took the game to a startled AFC back line. It was no surprise when they took the lead. Good work down the right from Tim Hopkinson who delivered a superb cross for David Erentz to get in front of his marker and guide a glancing header past Jason White. At this point, AFC were enjoying an equal amount of the ball but hoisting it up to the smallest attacking line since Snow White’s boys last played was not working.

West Bridgeford scored again on 35 minutes, Danny Naylor slid into a tackle on the right flank, an unfamiliar position for the midfielder and got there later than the No. 14 bus. Tom Coole had already skipped past the lunge and 2 steps later hit a laser guided 30 yard shot that flew into the net, take a bow son.

AFC Mansfield did have chances in the first half but a combination of good defending and wayward shooting saw them go in 2 goals down.

As much as the home side showed their attacking talents, the 2nd half showed how good they are at defending. The Bulls piled on the pressure but with mediocre crosses, corners and free-kicks it looked like it was going to be a fruitless 45 minutes. Then out of the mediocrity came one ball of true quality on 65 minutes, unfortunately from my vantage point I couldn’t see who delivered it, but well done that man! It fell into the path of Lynton Karkach who raced into the box. He was immediately surrounded by a host of defenders. He kept his cool and made a short pass to Gary Bradshaw. This is Bradshaw’s territory and despite the horde descending on him he held them off and then rolled the ball back to Danny Naylor who placed the ball in to the net with slide rule accuracy.

We were now in a game and West Bridgeford were using every trick in the book to keep the recently woken AFC at bay. Some legal, some a little grey and some out of order. Usually pushing two players into the advertising hoarding would warrant some sanction, but remember the officials were having an off day.

The Bulls went close on a few more occasions and West Bridgeford had a couple of half chances at the other end. The final real chance came after a foul just outside the box, I say a foul, more like a mugging thankfully the AFC player didn’t have his wallet on him. The wall lined up a good 5 yards away from the ball and Bradshaw curled his effort over the wall but over the bar as well and that was about that.

West Bridgeford will give somebody a difficult game in the next round and perhaps next season our Notts Cup form will change, although I doubt it. The Bulls have the weekend off but return to action on Tuesday night when they make the short journey to Clipstone for a league fixture.

TEAM: White, Annable, Dudley, Allott, Timons, D'Laryea, Naylor (Paling 72), Patterson (C), Karkach, Bradshaw, Ghaichem (Wilson 80).

MoM: Jon D'Laryea

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