Mansfield Town exited the Emirates FA Cup at the first round stage with a 2-0 replay loss against Oldham Athletic at Sportsdirect.com Park this evening.
The Stags were more than a match for their League One opponents in blustery conditions, but two goals in eight second-half minutes from Danny Philliskirk and Dominic Poleon ensured the Greater Manchester outfit will go through to face Sheffield United in the next round of the competition.
Adam Murray made six changes to the side that were narrowly defeated by Northampton Town at Sixfields on Saturday with Scott Shearer replacing Brian Jensen in goal to make his third appearance of the season.
After speaking pre-match about seeing the game as an opportunity to ‘try a few things’, the manager made six changes to the side which were defeated at Northampton as he also named Krystian Pearce, Nathan Thomas, Jack Thomas, Jamie McGuire and Matty Blair back in the starting line-up.
The swirling winds didn’t hamper Stags’ early approach to the contest and they had the first chance in the opening stages. An aerial ball into the box fell at the back-post for Nathan Thomas who skewed it wide from an angle.
With the rain teeming down ferociously too, conditions were proving difficult for the players to have a sustained spell in possession. Rejuvenated from their weekend win over Chesterfield in Derbyshire, Oldham were looking sprightly without really testing Ryan Tafazolli and Pearce at the back.
And it was the visitors who threatened with Nathan Thomas bursting forward with speed inside the area, but his razor sharp cross was hacked behind by the Latics.
Lone frontman Matt Green was producing an energetic performance as he frequently offered himself down both channels, with onrushing runners willing to join him. It was the former Birmingham City man who came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock.
Latics’ centre-half James Wilson made a blind pass to his goalkeeper and as it trickled wide of ‘keeper Joel Coleman it was pounced upon by Green who lofted it inches over the woodwork from close range under a challenge from Coleman. But that miss spurred Oldham into action and Wilson, looking to redeem himself following his earlier lapse, headed Mark Yeates’ corner into the hands of Shearer.
The home side continued to press through Yeates once again, and his delivery was hooked away brilliantly by Tafazolli. With half-time approaching, Mansfield began to pressurise with set-pieces aplenty as the opposition’s foul-count rose.
Bright play from Nathan Thomas on the wing sparked an eye-catching foray forward for Murray’s men, and after his mazy run Adam Chapman’s drive was well blocked with Oldham’s crowd becoming frustrated by their team.
In the next and last action of the half, Green impressively held up play and laid the ball off for Jack Thomas who curled a cross into Matty Blair, and although the winger looked offside, the flag stayed down which only enhanced his frustrations as he failed to connect at an awkward height.
Mansfield flew out of the traps in the second period and it was Green’s running in behind which caused the problem. Blair took the ball down exquisitely out wide, before running inside and feeding the former’s run, but his right-footed effort was desperately blocked.
The four-goal man then received the ball over the top from McGuire and looked to be through on goal, but defenders Brian Wilson and James Wilson caught up with him as he was getting ever-closer to pulling the trigger.
Despite Dominic Poleon being eager to run with the ball at his feet, Pearce in particular refused to entertain the idea and kept the ex-Leeds United man in his sights to prevent any potential damage.
Neither keeper was having to do much shot-stopping with an hour on the clock – the flight on the heavily wind-assisted free-kick required Shearer’s attention to watch over the bar, while Nathan Thomas looked to be away at the other end but James Wilson’s delicate sliding challenge halted the winger as he headed towards Coleman.
Heroic defending by the Stags twice on the line denied the hosts the lead halfway into the second-half. Blair Adams, fresh from signing his loan extension shortly before the match, was the first to get his body in the way before Shearer showed great reactions to block the next attempt.
Not heeding the warning, it was Oldham who took the lead on 71 minutes. Danny Philliskirk, full of confidence after his late goalscoring exploits on Saturday, appeared at the back-post when the ball was delivered and he pounced on the loose ball before directing the ball smartly past Shearer into the net.
With nothing to lose in search of the equaliser, Murray brought on Adi Yussuf for Jack Thomas who immediately took up one of the striking positions next to Green. Nonetheless, David Dunn’s Latics doubled extended their lead with an unstoppable strike from distance with a little over ten minutes remaining.
The wind played a part in the build-up before Philliskirk teed the ball up for Poleon on the edge of the area, who executed a beautiful effort into the top corner of Shearer’s goal. That signalled a quiet period in the tie with Oldham workmanlike in their manner.
Playing against the wind, Mansfield carried on harrying as they pursued a tense finish to the contest. But it wasn’t to be for the Stags as Oldham used their League One nous to close the tie out.
STAGS XI: Shearer, Pearce, Collins, Chapman, Green, N.Thomas, Tafazolli, Blair (Rose 65’), J.Thomas (Yussuf 76’), McGuire, Adams
Subs not used: Jensen, Westcarr, Hunt, Lambe, Fitzpatrick
Oldham XI: Coleman, Mills, J.Wilson, Dieng, B.Wilson, Eckersley, Kelly, Yeates, Philliskirk, Poleon (Fuller 82’), Higdon (Rasulo 59’)
Subs not used: Renshaw, Brown, Winchester, Vassell, Byrnes
Attendance: 1,893 (188)