Sensational Stags into Round Three
Louis Briscoe wrote his name into Mansfield Town folklore by scoring a magnificent late winner that ensured the Stags will meet Liverpool in the FA Cup with Budweiser Third Round.
The flying winger, Mansfield’s joint-longest serving player, broke Lincoln City hearts by firing beyond Imps shot-stopper Paul Farman with 13 minutes remaining after Anthony Howell’s lay-off.
The Stags now host seven-time FA Cup winners Liverpool at One Call Stadium on Sunday 6 January 2013, in what is sure to be one of the most eagerly anticipated days in the history of the club.
Although early chances were at a premium on a bitterly cold night in North Nottinghamshire, both teams began in ferocious fashion with several full-blooded challenges flying around.
Ben Hutchinson was fortunate to escape a booking after he mis-judged his tackle on Dan Gray, whilst Andrew Boyce caught John Dempster with a late lunge in the centre of the park.
However, on 14 minutes, Paul Cox’s side calmed the nerves of the One Call Stadium crowd as they went ahead with their first effort on target.
Imps shot-stopper Paul Farman was caught too far off his line as Chris Clements whipped a superb delivery into the area, before Dempster rose highest and saw his looping header cushion in the bottom corner.
The Stags, with the grit firmly between their teeth, tore into their lacklustre counterparts and attacked with venom and vigour over the next few minutes.
Backed by a vociferous home support, Mansfield came exceptionally close to doubling their advantage on the half-hour mark, but were denied by Farman’s fantastic double-save.
Briscoe picked out Hutchinson with an intricate pull-back, but the striker saw his shot parried by Farman, who somehow saved Green’s subsequent six-yard stab-shot, despite being rooted to the ground.
The hosts appealed for a penalty in vain moments later when Briscoe’s low right-wing cross appeared to strike the hand of Lincoln full-back Peter Gilbert.
Nevertheless, referee Darren Sheldrake opted to award a free-kick on the cusp of the area, as opposed to a spot-kick, but Clements was unable to find anyone with his delivery.
Dempster’s powerful header from Clements’ right-sided corner was bravely clear from within the six-yard box by Tom Miller on 38 minutes, as the Stags continued to lay siege on the Imps goal.
But just five minutes prior to the interval, the momentum of what was a nail-biting game shifted in an instant, as Adam Smith drew David Holdsworth’s side level.
The Lincoln winger broke the Stags offside trap to latch onto a long punt out of defence, before nonchalantly flicking the ball over Alan Marriott and into an empty net.
Mansfield appeared visibly shaken as they struggled to hold out until half-time against the resurgent Imps, who used a series of Gray long-throws to test their opponents’ resilience.
The Stags twice came close in the early moments of the second period through two headers from Dempster, the first of which was expertly pushed away by Farman.
Lincoln, however, now looked by far the more threatening of the two sides, as they enjoyed a tidal wave of possession that gradually pushed Mansfield back to defending deep inside their own area.
It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors would grab a goal to break hearts and it almost arrived on the hour-mark when Jamie Taylor, ghosting in at the far-post, headed straight at Marriott.
Jake Sheridan also came close with an effort, whilst Alan Power whistled a ball through a crowded six-yard box that somehow evaded a connection that would have turned it goalwards.
Mansfield, lacklustre at this point, tried in desperation to change things and re-established a foothold in the game when Matt Rhead replaced Hutchinson.
And on 77 minutes, One Call Stadium erupted into scenes of jubilation, joy and sheer ecstasy.
Midfielder Howell set-up Briscoe with a short pass inside the area and the Stags’ joint-longest serving player rifled an unstoppable, thunderous strike into the net that gave Farman no chance.
The Mansfield faithful then endured minutes of agony and torture, as the seconds ticked down in slow fashion and their team desperately sought to protect their slender advantage.
But the Stags weren’t to be beaten. Resolutely, bravely and courageously they soaked up the Imps’ pressure and survived three minutes of nail-biting added time to record a famous victory.
Attendance: 5,304 (1,360 away supporters).