Mansfield Town were knocked out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night in a 4-1 defeat to Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday.
Two goals in six first half minutes from Lucas Joao and José Semedo put Wednesday in the ascendency, before Ryan Tafazolli’s header right before half-time halved the deficit. However second-half strikes from Kieran Lee and Modou Sougou wrapped up the win for the hosts.
Adam Murray made four changes to the side that held Carlisle United to a draw in Saturday’s League Two opening-day fixture, with Krystian Pearce, Mitch Rose, Reggie Lambe and Matt Green missing out for the trip to Hillsborough.
There was a first professional start for 17-year old centre-half Corbin Shires in the heart of the defence, while Jack Thomas and Craig Westcarr joined returning forward Chris Beardsley in the starting XI; the latter making his debut once again for the club after returning for a third spell at One Call Stadium in the summer from Stevenage.
The hosts kicked off this first round tie and immediately started stamping their mark on the game. After neatly passing the ball around the back-line, a through ball for Lucas Joao to chase was gratefully received by the lightning-quick Portuguese attacker, ghosting past Shires but failing to find a team-mate with his squared pass across the face of goal.
The Stags were coping with the pressure their Championship opposition were putting on them, but there was nothing Scott Shearer could do just before the quarter of an hour mark as Wednesday took the lead.
Malvind Benning was penalised after bringing down the tricky Modou Sougou down the left after the Senegalese frontman had nipped past the Mansfield full-back. Alex Lopez stepped up to cross the ball in, whipping in an enticing ball that an unmarked Joao duly took advantage of by slamming his powerful header in to the roof of the net.
One nil to the hosts, and it wasn’t long before another dangerous cross brought about a second goal for the Owls, with Sougou again causing issues down the Mansfield left.
The forward was unmistakable in his bright pink boots, flashing towards the by-line before delivering a pinpoint cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where central-midfielder Jose Semedo ploughed his header low in to the corner of the net and past the outstretched hand of Shearer.
Shoring up the defence was crucial for the Stags for the remainder of the half, and they continued to bat away the home side’s advances. They were seeing more of the ball as they adjusted to the fast-paced tempo of play, holding the ball well and their first chance of the evening came when Nathan Thomas curled one just wide after being teed up by Beardsley.
With the half drawing to a close, the Stags were starting to create some chances with Beardsley coming close to handing the visitors a route back in to the match. Jack Thomas drifted a beautifully-weighted ball in to the box and Beardsley sent a bullet header Joe Wildsmith’s way; forcing the young ‘keeper to paw away the effort and out for a corner.
With the resulting set-piece, Mansfield grabbed a vital goal as they halved the deficit right on the stroke half-time with Ryan Tafazolli getting his name on the score-sheet. The defender lost his man before squeezing his header from Adam Chapman’s corner back across goal, past the despairing Wildsmith and into the back of the net.
Tafazolli’s goal was a lifeline for the visitors who went in to the break at 2-1 down, with a big 45 minutes ahead of them as they departed the field for the interval.
A rejuvenated Mansfield Town kicked off the second-half and within minutes had a golden chance to level the score-line.
Jack Thomas’ nimble footwork saw him gain a yard on his defender before digging out a delightful through-ball over the top of the defence and in to the path of Beardsley. The striker out-muscled his man before getting his head to the ball from a tight angle, but fortunately for Carlo Carvalhal’s men Tom Lees was back to divert the effort over the bar.
Despite their stellar start, a defence-splitting pass from the lively Joao allowed Kieran Lee to burst through on goal from outside the box; slotting the ball calmly past Shearer from close range to restore the Owls two-goal cushion.
The pressure was back on the Stags, but Wednesday somehow managed to waste a golden opportunity to grab a fourth with Marco Matias the guilty party.
A misplaced pass from Nathan Thomas just outside his own penalty box allowed Lopez to pick the ball up and make his way in to the area, before squaring the ball to the unmarked Matias. The substitute had lots of space and time to pick his spot but he decided to take it first time, rifling the ball wide of the post instead.
stags' manager Adam Murray rang the changes just before the hour mark with James Caton making his Stags debut amongst the trio of substitutions, with Adi Yussuf and Reggie Lambe joining him on the field in place of Nathan Thomas, Jack Thomas and Craig Westcarr, respectively.
With both sides cancelling each other out up and down the pitch during the last 10 minutes, Mansfield came close to pulling this game back in to contention after Reggie Lambe’s determination down the wing.
The Bermudan international somehow kept Shires’ clearance in play with some neat dribbling and skill before slipping the ball through to the onside Yussuf. The substitute dropped his shoulder before shooting low towards the corner of the net, only to see Wildsmith parry the effort before collecting the loose ball.
Moments later it was Beardsley who again came close to notching his first goal back in a Mansfield shirt when he met Caton’s in-swinging cross. Beardsley peeled off his marker before seeing his header loop just pass the far post.
With the game reaching its climax, there was enough time for Sougou to cap off his impressive evening with a goal. Substitute Jeremy Helan did all the hard work down the left-hand-side before cutting the ball back from the by-line, right at the feet of Sougou who pulled the trigger at the earliest occasion; thumping the ball past the helpless Shearer.
With added time up, referee Mark Brown blew for full-time on the night; with Sheffield Wednesday securing their place in the hat for the second round.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer, Lees, Sasso, Wiggins, Lopez (Hutchinson, 57), Semedo, Lee, Sougou, Joao (Helan, 75), Lavery (Matias, 51).
Substitutes not used: Dawson, Nuhiu, McGugan, Wallace.
Mansfield Town: Shearer, Hunt, Tafazolli, Shires, Benning, Chapman, J. Thomas (Lambe, 58), Clements, N. Thomas (Caton, 57), Westcarr (Yussuf, 58), Beardsley.
Substitutes not used: Jensen, Marsden, Rose, McGuire.