Stags defeat Slough to progress
Mansfield Town progressed to the Second Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser after a hard-fought penalty shoot-out victory over Slough Town at Holloways Park.
David Woozley’s own goal put the Stags ahead in first half stoppage-time, before Nathan Bowden-Haase levelled with a close-range finish midway through the second period.
Mansfield created several gilt-edge chances, but were continuously left frustrated thanks to the expertise of Slough shot-stopper James Warrington, before they finally emerged victorious from the penalty spot.
The Stags accustomed themselves well to the unfamiliar surroundings of Holloways Park in the early exchanges and came close when Ben Hutchinson attempted an audacious and largely speculative 40-yard shot, which landed narrowly wide of Warrington’s left-hand post.
Warrington was called into action for the first time when he parried Briscoe’s powerful drive from the edge of the area, before Dominic Rhone volleyed woefully wide as the hosts enjoyed their first chance at the other end.
Exodus Geohaghon was unable to cause any danger with the first of his torpedo-like long-throw deliveries, though Lindon Meikle threatened danger when Sean Fraser upended him after a swashbuckling run through the centre, the result of which saw Chris Clements fire straight into the Rebels wall.
Mansfield would have gone ahead midway through the first period had Warrington not produced a fine double save to keep the deadlock intact. The Slough shot-stopper got down well to parry a deflected low drive from Briscoe, before re-adjusting his body superbly in order to turn John Dempster’s goal-bound header over the woodwork.
The Stags continued to be left frustrated by the resolute Rebels as Anthony Howell fired over from distance on the half-hour mark, whilst Briscoe also saw a low cross through the six-yard box fall fortuitously into the arms of the highly impressive Rebels custodian.
Slough rarely caused Mansfield any serious problems, though as the first period crept towards its interval Shane Redmond was twice forced to claim deep crosses into his penalty area as Steve Bateman’s gritty and determined part-timers began to enjoy the territorial advantage.
Having bravely survived 45 minutes of sustained pressure, Bateman’s resilient Rebels looked almost certain to go in level at the interval, but they finally succumbed in the first minute of additional time.
Lee Beevers swung a delightful right-sided delivery into the area after Clements’ earlier corner was only partially cleared and with the towering Geohaghon lurking dangerously inside six-yard box, fireman Woozley inadvertently flicked a header over the advancing Warrington to pour water on Slough’s FA Cup dream.
Slough pressed hard for an opening in the early exchanges of the second period, but the closest they came to an equaliser was when Ed Smith sliced his long-range attempt out of the stadium after Stuart Swift’s right-sided corner had reached him lurking unmarked on the edge of the area.
Jake Speight replaced Nick Wright close to the hour-mark, and the Mansfield substitute could have made a near-immediate impact had he not driven a low 18-yard shot wide of the target following a lay-off from Meikle.
Nevertheless, the hosts continued to pose a threat and Holloways Park erupted midway through the second period when the Rebels struck a delightful equaliser as Swift hit the woodwork with a sumptuous left-footed free-kick from 30-yards, but Bowden-Haase was on hand to poke home the resulting loose ball and shell-shock the Stags.
Buoyed by their leveller, Slough dominated the next few minutes and went close again when Alex Brown picked out Smith with a long punt over the top. After being denied by an advancing Redmond, Burgess picked up the resulting loose ball and arrowed a low shot towards goal, only for Dempster to clear the danger.
With the hosts fully in the ascendency by this stage, Swift then whipped a dangerous right-sided corner through a crowded six-yard box, which was narrowly flicked wide by Bowden-Haase at the far post, as Mansfield again continued to flirt dangerously with the prospect of conceding a second goal in quick succession.
However, the part-timers unsurprisingly grew tired in the closing stages as Mansfield created a plethora of good chances from which they could have won the game in normal time.
Hutchinson twice lacked accuracy with his shots as the Rebels were penned back, whilst Clements was also unable to find the target with a long-range effort in the final minute of normal time.
Then, in the first of four minutes of additional time, Meikle was sent through on goal by Clements and with the goal gaping, Warrington did just enough to reduce the angle and force Meikle to lay the ball off to Briscoe, who miscued his attempt before Matt Rhead drew a save from the shot-stopper.
In what proved to be a thoroughly frantic finale, Rhead again came close to a dramatic winner as his near-post header from a Clements set-piece delivery in the last few seconds forced Warrington into producing a fine save and relieve Slough of the pressure they were under.
Mansfield continued to attack with venom in extra-time and after Rhead drew another save from Warrington, Speight saw an effort fall wide of the woodwork as the Stags continued to be frustrated by their robust and resilient opponents who were seemingly happy to play for penalties.
With Slough flat out on their feet, Howell helped to create a gilt-edge chance when his long clearance out of defence was superbly flicked on by Rhead towards Speight, but nevertheless, Speight was unable to put the ball between the posts as Warrington was quick from his line to avert the danger.
The Rebels came close before the break in extra-time as Burgess headed wide from substitute Sean Sonner’s chipped cross, but despite the pulsating action, there was an air of inevitably in the second period with the only incident of any real note being Dempster’s dismissal for a tackle on Smith.
In the subsequent penalty shoot-out, Mansfield looked far more cool and composed than their Evo-Stik Southern League Division One opponents with Clements, Briscoe and Rhead all finding the target, whilst Burgess saw an effort saved by Redmond and Sonner blazed over for the hosts.
Speight also retained his composure with the final spot-kick of the night as he sent Warrington the wrong way to break the hearts of the resilient Rebels and set up an FA Cup Second Round tie with Lincoln City.