Report: Latics 1-1 Stags
Sam Clucas’ equaliser earned Mansfield Town a Second Round replay with Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup with Budweiser.
The 23-year-old fired home his 11th goal of the season with a bullet free-kick to draw the Stags level on the stroke of half-time, after Korey Smith’s solo effort had put the hosts ahead.
Neither team could find a winner after the re-start and the replay will take place at One Call Stadium later this month.
The Latics got proceedings underway and attacked immediately, with Alan Marriott forced off his line to claim a deep set-piece cross by James Dayton inside the opening minute.
Oldham continued to look lively in the opening exchanges and their fans were screaming handball when Marriott grabbed the ball on the by-line, right at the feet of Adam Rooney.
Lee Johnson’s side also won the first corner on six minutes, but Sidney Schmeltz saw his scuffed attempt headed away by Jamie McGuire, following Dayton’s left-wing delivery.
Mansfield gradually began to grow into the tie and when an accelerating Ross Dyer was chopped down by Corey Smith on the right side, the Latics skipper was cautioned.
Dyer proved to be something of a nuisance for the hosts and flashed a low shot wide of the target on 13 minutes, after Lindon Meikle played an inviting pass for him to run onto.
Both teams enjoyed lengthy passing exchanges around the quarter-hour mark, but nobody was able to play a piercing ball to create an opportunity.
Instead, Smith opted to weave his way through the middle but when he caught sight of the target, Marriott got down well to save his tame 25-yard attempt.
Mansfield quickly responded with probably the best chance of the opening 20 minutes, but Sam Clucas’ glancing header from Meikle’s right-wing cross drifted wide.
The pendulum soon swung back towards Oldham, who were next to go close as Ellis Plummer’s low set-piece was palmed away by Marriott, before the defence cleared their lines.
At the other end, Anthony Howell hammered a speculative 20-yard effort high and wide, as the match began to desperately need an opening goal.
Unfortunately for the Stags, it was their higher-ranked counterparts who made the breakthrough.
Smith embarked on another mazy solo run, starting on the left-wing and working his way towards the edge of the area, where he rifled a right-foot drive into the top corner.
Paul Cox’s side weren’t dispirited at having fallen behind, however, and could have levelled just a minute later, if anyone had made a telling connection to Adam Murray’s back-post ball.
However, Oldham always looked lively and Martin Riley was forced to stick out a leg in order to prevent Dayton’s low pull-back from reaching an unmarked Schmeltz.
Moments later, Dayton provided a great cross which did reach Schmeltz, but the Latics’ winger lacked accuracy with his header and Marriott was untroubled.
The first period was a largely absorbing contest and there was another intriguing twist on the brink of half-time, as Mansfield snatched an equaliser.
Danny Philliskirk caught Murray with a high-foot on the edge of the area, and with no advantage available to the Stags, the referee had little option but to award a free-kick.
Clucas then stepped up and unleashed a thunderous drive straight through the wall and into the net, which was met by a roar of approval from the travelling faithful.
As the illuminated floodlights began to light up Boundary Park ahead of the second half, the match was perfectly poised, with honours even at 1-1.
Pouring rain made conditions difficult for both teams in the early moments after the re-start, but it was the Stags who looked marginally the brighter side.
After Darryl Westlake won a corner, Dempster rose high to connect with Murray’s subsequent delivery into the six-yard box, but his powerful header was off-target.
The Latics now looked lame in comparison to their high-tempo first half performance, and soon made a double substitution to try and regain the momentum.
Michael Petrasso was favoured to Schmeltz, whilst the lively Dayton limped off due to injury and was replaced by youngster Johnson Clarke-Harris.
Oldham slowly began to dictate play once again, and Rooney, who for long spells was a virtual spectator, forced Marriott into two routine saves around the hour mark.
In a separate attack, Anton Rodgers flashed a low 25-yard attempt narrowly wide of Marriott’s right-hand post, which bobbled up and nearly crept into the net.
The Stags, who by now were on the back foot, endured more anxious moments, but both Philliskirk and Petrasso lacked accuracy with their respective low efforts.
With each passing minute, the prospect of a replay at One Call Stadium grew stronger, as did the probability that one further goal would settle the contest.
Clarke-Harris almost found it with 10 minutes remaining when he cut inside and hammered a low 25-yard drive goalwards, which Marriott did well to save.
Either side of that opportunity, the Stags made two changes to try and bolster their attack with Ollie Palmer and Ben Hutchinson thrown into the action.
Nevertheless, the closing stages were rather tepid and when Oldham’s James Tarkowski saw a chance for glory, he drove a 30-yard strike high into the stand.
Three minutes of additional time were allowed and in the second of those, Clarke-Harris had another powerful attempt kept out by Marriott.
The Latics could have won the tie deep into injury time when Marriott could only punch a right-wing set-piece by Jonathan Grounds, but Petrasso blazed over on the follow-up.
Attendance: 3,429 (379 away supporters).