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21:40 17th December 2013
By  Andrew Webb

Report: Stags 1-4 Latics

Mansfield Town bowed out of the FA Cup with Budweiser, after a 4-1 defeat to Oldham Athletic at One Call Stadium tonight.

The Stags were dreaming of a Third Round trip to Liverpool when Ross Dyer converted Lindon Meikle’s deep by-line cross in the 12th minute.

Despite an impressive first half performance by Oldham, Meikle almost doubled Mansfield’s lead shortly after the re-start when Meikle cut inside and flashed an effort just wide.

The miss proved costly as Philliskirk hammered home an equaliser, before Johnson Clarke-Harris struck just four minutes later to put the visitors in control.

Matteo Lanzoni crashed home a bullet-header to make it 3-1 to the visitors with only a quarter-of-an-hour left remaining, and the visitors wrapped up proceedings through Adam Rooney’s late penalty.

The Stags also finished the match with nine men as skipper John Dempster was sent-off for an apparent handball, whilst Sam Clucas limped off with injury in added time.

The Latics started brightly and carved out the first chance on four minutes, but James Wesolowski failed to test Alan Marriott with a speculative strike from the edge of the area.

Oldham’s first corner also came to nothing, before the match was halted for a couple of minutes whilst Wesolowski received treatment for a head injury, following a collision with Jamie McGuire.

The Stags faithful were soon dreaming of a trip to Anfield, however, as the hosts roared into an early lead.

Meikle showed some excellent footwork wide on the left flank and played a simple ball to Junior Daniel, whose scuffed low cross into the area was picked up by Clucas.

The Stags’ talisman brilliantly turned away from his marker and found an accelerating Meikle close to the by-line, who was able to hit an inviting ball across the goalmouth.

With the Latics backline having been cut apart, Dyer raced in at the near-post and powered a bullet-header off the underside of the woodwork, beyond Mark Oxley, and into the net.

The home crowd roared with approval, knowing that their heroes in amber & blue had made an important first step towards a dream Third Round tie at Anfield.

However, Oldham were never going to lie down and peppered the Stags’ goalmouth with numerous balls, in an attempt to find a quick equaliser.

Two corners in quick succession came to nothing, and when Marriott was tested, it was only to save a bobbling 35-yard free-kick by the Latics’ livewire, Clarke-Harris.

Mansfield were forced to make a change on 22 minutes, when Ben Hutchinson limped off through injury, and was replaced by playmaker Chris Clements.

The Stags nearly doubled their lead a few moments later when Clucas hammered a 20-yard shot just over the woodwork, after a fine lay-off on the edge of the area by Dyer.

But Oldham continued to ask questions of the Stags’ defence and after Rooney almost found an opening in one attack, Michael Petrasso whistled a half-volley inches wide of Marriott’s left-hand post.

The higher-placed club continued to enjoy superior possession, but were frustrated in their efforts as they struggled to carve out any meaningful, clear-cut chances.

Nevertheless, Lee Johnson’s side did come close on 41 minutes, when an unmarked Petrasso wrong-footed his marker and had his goal-bound effort blocked by Dempster.

Marriott then showed safe hands in claiming David Mellor’s dangerous in-swinging corner, which was enough to preserve the Stags’ slender advantage.

The Stags had one final chance on the brink of three minutes injury-time at the end of the first period, when Martin Riley saw a close-range header blocked, following Clements’ left-sided corner.

Oldham won a corner within a minute of the re-start but Mellor’s poor delivery failed to beat the first man and the hosts were able to easily clear the danger.

At the other end, Jonathan Grounds had to make a vital clearance after Dyer’s toe-poke from a Meikle cross, almost fell kindly for Clucas on the edge of the six-yard box.

The visitors struggled to generate the same momentum that they had in the opening half and were fortunate not to fall further behind on 55 minutes.

Daniel capitalised on a poor clearance by an Oldham defender and played an inviting ball down the left flank, which Meikle was able to latch onto.

The winger showed yet more fabulous footwork as he tormented two markers, who ultimately collided with each other, before he cut inside and fired a right-foot drive just wide.

And the miss was to prove costly as Oldham soon grabbed an equaliser, somewhat against the run of play.

Daniel’s untidy tackle on Petrasso saw the Stags’ player booked and Oldham awarded a free-kick in a very dangerous position, right on the edge of the area.

Set-piece responsibilities were left to Philliskirk, who subsequently stepped up and unleashed a rasping drive into the top-left corner, which gave Marriott no chance.

Within an instant the pendulum had swung in favour of the side from Boundary Park and Mansfield’s misery was compounded on 62 minutes, when the Latics struck again.

McGuire’s slip midway inside his own half was pounced upon by Petrasso, who played a quick ball to his left-hand side, which found an unmarked Clarke-Harris.

The Oldham youngster took a touch to set himself and drove a powerful left-foot drive beyond an on-rushing Marriott to give the visitors a fortuitous 2-1 advantage.

With 24 minutes remaining, Paul Cox opted to throw everything he could towards the Stags’ search for an equaliser, and made a bold double substitution.

Meikle and Murray were replaced by Matt Rhead and Ollie Palmer as the hosts switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with Clucas and Dyer now operating out wide.

There would surely be more twists and turns in the closing stages, but with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, the Latics opened up a seemingly unassailable 3-1 lead.

In a clinical, yet simple set-piece move, Philliskirk delivered a pinpoint corner towards a rising Lanzoni at the near-post, who planted a simple header into the back of the net.

The Stags almost halved the deficit in a set-piece of their own only a few moments later, but Clements bouncing free-kick fell narrowly wide of Oxley’s right-hand post.

Mansfield’s night soon became even worse when Oldham won a spot-kick and Dempster was shown a straight red card for allegedly handling a shot.

Rooney stepped up and put the result beyond any reasonable doubt as he placed a calm set-piece into the net, with Marriott diving in the opposite direction.

The pouring rain almost reflected the mood around One Call Stadium late on, apart from in the North Stand, where 223 Latics fans were now celebrating a trip to Anfield.

The last cruel blow that the Stags suffered came in stoppage-time when Clucas left the pitch in clear discomfort, having landed awkwardly on his knee.

Attendance: 2,836 (223 away supporters).