The Bulls hopes of some festive cheer disappeared after just 3 minutes. That’s how long it took hosts Handsworth to unlock AFC’s defence.

A fine run down the left flank from man of the match Danny Buttle saw him deliver a peach of a cross to an unmarked Alex Rippon who fired past an exposed Jason White.

Another run and cross from Buttle 2 minutes later found the head of Aaron Moxam but this time White had it covered.

Grant Allott heads over

The visitors then mounted an attack of their own. Some good work from Ollie Fearon and Ryan Williams saw Jimmy Ghaichem presented with a chance inside the box but the winger fired wide on 8 minutes.

Moxam looked well offside on 10 minutes and even he looked round for a flag, that hesitation allowed White to get down to save with questions being asked of the assistant referee.

A period of pressure around the 25-minute mark saw at least 4 blocked efforts on the Mansfield goal. The ball then bounced in front of Danny Patterson who should have hooked it away to safety but he completely missed the ball. Waiting goal side was Moxam and his 36th goal of the season was handed to him on a plate, although the finish was still top drawer.

The 2nd half started much brighter for The Bulls and Ghaichem drove his cross across the face of Joe Green’s goal with just a touch needed. Handsworth broke quickly and if it hadn’t been for a telling interception from Joe Cheeseman, on for the injured Grant Allott, the hosts could have increased their lead.

Jon D'Laryea and Luke Fletcher challenge for the ball

Fearon’s cross on the hour mark was met by Cheeseman, Green easily held his looping header. A double substitution on 65 minutes with Bradshaw and Karkach coming on for D’Laryea and Cullingworth saw the visitors adopt a more attacking stance.

A combination of Williams, Bradshaw and Dudley set Matty Plummer clear in the box but his shot was always rising on 70 minutes. Jimmy Ghaichem wriggled into the boxonly to see an arm across his face stop his run and the referee immediately signalled for a penalty.

Some histrionics from keeper Green saw him booked but his actions put White off and he skied his spot kick over the bar. More ridiculous behaviour from the keeper and others sparked a little melee but the referee decided to book Ollie Fearon for getting involved and letting the instigators off scot free and his explanation after the game of the incident was weak.

A scything tackle on Lynton Karkach on 88 minutes brought the AFC goal. A great delivery from Ryan Williams was met by a Chris Timons glancing header and left Green rooted to the spot.

Moxam then missed a sitter in front of goal but somehow managed to fire 5 yards wide of the target with just the keeper to beat.

Handsworth were now employing some of the dark arts of football to keep The Bulls at bay but unfortunately the referee allowed them a certain artistic licence in their marking techniques. More drama before the end when Fearon got a powerful header in which cannoned of the crossbar with Green well beaten.

The proverbial game of two halves but with Handsworth averaging over 3 goals a game AFC did well to restrict them in the 2nd half and with a little more luck could have gotten something out of the game. But you cannot give a good side like Handsworth the sort of room they enjoyed in the 1st half. Lessons to be learnt let’s hope we learn them by next Monday for the return game.

Handsworth Parramore: Green, Ludlam, Smythe, Claisse, Harcourt, Griffiths , Rippon, Fletcher, Froggatt, Moxam, Buttle (Eades 89). Subs not used: Tootle, Ward, Starosta & Sneath

AFC Mansfield: White, Plummer, Dudley, Allott (Cheeseman 45), Timons, D’Laryea (Karkach 65), Williams, Patterson (C), Fearon, Cullingworth (Bradshaw 65), Ghaichem. Subs not used: Naylor & Paling.

Referee: Mr Christian Silcock

Assistants: Mr Jamie O’Connor & Mr David Maran

Attendance: 124

MoM: AFC Mansfield – Danny Patterson, Handsworth Parramore: Danny Buttle

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