Giant killers hit the 'Town' AFC MANSFIELD 2 - 1 STRATFORD TOWN

A true giant killing feat was performed on Saturday by AFC Mansfield who were one of just 3 Northern Counties sides to move onto the next round. Step 5 AFC Mansfield, in just their 5th season of existence have beaten Southern Premier Stratford Town 2-1. Stratford have been around since 1941 and play at step 3, The Bulls can consider this their greatest victory to date.

Gary Bradshaw goes close!

Having watched Stratford on Bank Holiday Monday Manager Rudy Funk knew just how to play against them. The Bulls boss adopted a cautious approach allowing the visitors possession in their own half while compacting play in the opposing half.

This of course invited Stratford on and the home side rode its luck in the first half. As early as the 2nd minute Jason White was in action turning a rasping drive from Jamie Sheldon around the post.

Gary Bradshaw in the thick of it

The keeper was in action 5 minutes later having to dive at the feet of Richard Gregory after Allott’s backpass was a little short. Matt Plummer blocked another on target effort from Gregory and was superb all through the game.

Gary Bradshaw’s audacious effort from fully 40 yards catching Niall Cooper off his line. The keeper furiously backpeddling and just getting his fingertips to the ball taking the sting out and then gratefully collecting the ball just before it crossed the line.

Glyn Cotton working hard in midfield

A minute later and White pushing Jordan Liburd’s curling free kick away for another corner. Then a mix up at the back for Stratford with Cooper trying to punch the ball and only succeeding in finding the head of Williams who headed forward to Bradshaw who fired over the bar.

On the half hour mark Stratford went close to breaking the deadlock. White saving at point blank range from Gregory the follow up by Edwin Ahenkorah hit the far post and rolled along the line into White’s hands.

A Williams low driven free kick saw Cooper get down well to his left on 35 minutes and at the other end Gregory fired tamely at White.

At the end of the half a neat move around the Stratford box saw the ball fall to Bradshaw who chipped it over Cooper and into the net but the assistants flag had gone up and the half ended all square. From the home sides point of view the 1st half of the game plan had been completed, although they were lucky at times.

The Bulls put pressure on the Stratford goal

The 2nd period started with AFC Mansfield looking a little sharper and eager to take the game to Stratford. The game took a break around the hour mark when Referee Martin Ashworth pulled up with a calf injury and one of his assistants took over after a 10 minute delay.

Discussions ongoing about the change of referee

The Bulls were looking the stronger side and they took the lead through Bradshaw’s superb finish, curling the ball past Cooper after a through ball from Williams.

Captain Ryan Williams provides the through ball for Gary bradshaw to open the scoring

Bradshaw surrounded by jubilant AFC players

The lead lasted 8 minutes when Guy Clark rose above everybody to power home a header from a corner on 75 minutes. The home side had to deal with 5 minutes of pressure before grabbing the winner.

From a Stratford free kick 30 yards out the ball came back off the wall to the feet of Ollie Fearon. At this point he was 75 yards from the visitor’s goal and off he went racing down the left flank past several Stratford players. He reached their box rounded another defender before firing a low precise drive past the advancing Cooper to send the home crowd wild.

Ollie Fearon takes the plaudits after a truly wonderful goal!!

There followed a tense last 10 minutes but The Bulls held their nerve and eagerly await the draw at noon Monday.

Ryan Williams pushing the team forward.

AFC Mansfield: White, Wilson, Dudley, Allott, Plummer, D’Laryea, Williams (C), Cotton (Annable 86), Fearon (Naylor 82), Bradshaw (Karkach 80), Ghaichem. Subs not used: Wright, Chadburn & Madin.

Stratford Town: Cooper, Summerfield, Westwood (Tulloch 77), Clark, Liburd, Brooks, Fry (Francis 83), Grocutt, Gregory (C), Ahenkorah (Mbunga 60), Sheldon. Subs not used: Fitzharris & Delfouneso

Referee: Mr Martin Ashworth (Leeds)

Assistants: Mr John Macrae (Leeds) & Mr George Paterson (Leeds)

Attendance: 95

Man of the Match: Matty Plummer


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