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Report: Matlock 2-1 Mansfield

27 November 2012

Massiah McDonald wrote his name into Matlock Town folklore as his stoppage-time winner condemned Mansfield Town to a regrettable 2-1 defeat at Causeway Lane.

The Gladiators striker slotted home from the edge of the area to dump the Stags out of the FA Trophy at the First Round stage for the second season in succession.

Despite being ahead at the interval thanks to Junior Daniel’s first goal for the club, Mansfield were ruthlessly punished for their lacklustre performance in the second period.

Lewis McMahon netted a deserved equaliser for the hosts, who also saw two efforts cannon off the woodwork as they pressed for a winner following Gary Roberts’s 77th minute dismissal.

But as the game looked destined for extra-time, McDonald coolly fired home from outside the area to provoke wild scenes of jubilation amongst the Matlock faithful.

Manager Paul Cox made six changes to the side that drew with the Gladiators last Saturday as Roberts, Andy Todd, Matt Rhead, Daniel, Anthony Howell and Jake Speight were all recalled to the Stags XI.

Midfielder Adam Murray, along with Matt Green, were named on the substitute’s bench, whilst Louis Briscoe, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson and Chris Clements were omitted from the squad altogether.

On a heavy pitch what survived an inspection earlier in the day, the visitors began in positive fashion and were camped inside the Matlock half throughout the early exchanges.

The Stags, who attacked the Cricket Field End of Matlock’s Causeway Lane ground in the first period, won four corners inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour, but were unable to register a shot on target.

Defender Luke Jones headed wide from a right-sided set-piece delivery from Roberts, whilst Todd also fired wide after an intricate through ball from Daniel. 

Gladiators’ midfielder Glyn Cotton was cautioned for a late lunge on Shane Redmond, as he attempted to reach a low through ball from team-mate Gareth Davies.

Mansfield then grabbed a deserved opener on 21 minutes when Daniel netted his first goal for the Stags in sensational fashion.

Roberts was needlessly hacked down by Phil Roe on the edge of the area, which allowed Daniel to step-up and rifle a powerful free-kick into the bottom right-hand corner.

McDonald blazed over at the other end as Matlock threatened an instant response, but it was the higher-division side that continued to control proceedings.

On the half-hour mark, Gladiators shot-stopper Jon Kennedy denied Speight with a fabulous save after Rhead and Todd beautifully exchanged passes, which helped carve the hosts defence apart.

Matlock gradually began to see more of the ball as the game meandered towards the interval and came close to an equaliser when McDonald fired over from close-range after Cotton’s fine through ball.

McMahon went to ground under a challenge from Geohaghon, but saw his penalty appeal waved away by the officials, whilst Speight tested Kennedy’s reactions with a long-range shot for Mansfield.

The Stags almost doubled their slender advantage in first-half stoppage time as Kennedy mis-judged Roberts’ left-wing free-kick, though Jones was unable to head goalwards.

On the cusp of the whistle, an unmarked McDonald wasted a gilt-edge chance to draw the Gladiators level, as he reached a deep free-kick into the six-yard box, but horrendously blazed wide of Shane Redmond’s goal.

Matlock appeared more determined after the re-start and drew level on 51 minutes when McDonald atoned for his earlier miss and set up McMahon, who bundled home from a few yards out.

Backed by a vociferous home support, the gruesome Gladiators then enjoyed territorial dominance for several minutes as the Stags were penned back deep inside their own half.

Mansfield struggled to match Matlock’s sheer determination and were almost propelled into further despair when Roberts untidily collided with Roe on the edge of the area.

Referee Darren Handley showed no hesitancy in sounding his whistle, though Roberts was left relieved as the official awarded a free-kick as opposed to a spot-kick.

Midfielder James Ashmore was given the set-piece responsibility, though he ultimately failed to hit the target as his powerful free-kick went wide of Redmond’s left-hand post.

The hosts continued to press forward at regular intervals and came close again when John Thompson bravely blocked McDonald’s goalbound shot midway through the second period.

Mansfield’s task was made much more difficult on 77 minutes as Roberts, who had collected an earlier yellow card, was sent-off for a professional foul on the troublesome McDonald.

Exodus Geohaghon was also cautioned after he tangled with McDonald deep on the left flank, before Adam Yates crashed a header against the woodwork from Micky Harcourt’s subsequent set-piece delivery.

Matlock were then denied by the frame of Redmond’s goal once more when Brad Grayson raced through on the counter-attack and thundered a shot against the upright.

But Grayson’s miss proved to be immaterial.

Deep into stoppage-time McDonald negotiated his way past Jones in order to reach a long ball over the top, and placed his powerfully-struck shot under the body of Redmond.

McDonald’s strike provoked scenes of jubilation from the Matlock faithful, who were left to celebrate another famous victory over the Stags in cup competition.

Attendance: 758

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