Mansfield Town progressed in the Emirates FA Cup after George Lapslie’s header secured a stunning victory over Sky Bet League One side Sunderland AFC.
Under the eye of newly-appointed manager, Nigel Clough, who was in the stands for today's game, the Stags showcased their worth at the Stadium of Light with a gutsy, battling performance.
Lapslie powered his side ahead with his second goal in as many matches from Kellan Gordon’s cross, and then weathered the onslaught towards the full-time whistle via the hosts to book their place in the next round.
Caretaker boss Richard Cooper named his final XI in temporary charge of the amber and blue, which was unchanged from the trip to Bolton on Tuesday.
Mansfield made an enterprising start to proceedings in the northeast – specifically through Nicky Maynard – with the afternoon’s first effort being turned behind for a corner.
A bending delivery from Stephen McLaughlin was subsequently planted onto the head of Remi Matthew and despite the goalkeeper being unable to clear his lines by punching, James Perch had little time to react with his header that dropped harmlessly wide.
However, Sunderland began to find their footing. Danny Graham was twice teed up by debutant Callum McFadzean but was denied by the post and bar respectively.
The Stags rode their early game fortunes and quickly returned to their impressive start. Mal Benning arrowed a low effort wide of the target ahead of the first half’s most glaring opportunity.
George Maris, operating on the right-hand side of the action, found a pocket of space to deliver a whipped ball towards Jordan Bowery but the striker’s touch saw the ball rise up beyond the crossbar.
Meanwhile, McFazdean had cemented himself as the Black Cats’ most dangerous outlet as he endeavoured to break the deadlock. A powerful, low effort was expertly thwarted by the left hand of Marek Stech and shepherded behind for a corner.
Into the second period and the Stags took less than four minutes to stun the hosts.
Gordon was allowed acres of space on the right flank and he used the time effectively – picking out Lapslie in the centre with an inch-perfect delivery who nodded home beyond the Sunderland custodian.
Phil Parkinson’s side began to pile on the pressure as they sought an all-important equaliser. Jack Diamond entered the Stags’ penalty area from the far side to receive a pass but duly smashed an effort into the side netting.
Mansfield continually held firm before Stech was again required to produce another fine save. A reactionary palm denied substitute Charlie Wyke from restoring parity five minutes from time.
Expectedly, the home side were relentless in their pursuit of an equaliser yet it never arrived as Mansfield picked up their first win of the season in dramatic circumstances.
The Stags will return to action on November 10 when Clough officially takes charge of his first fixture against Scunthorpe United in the Papa John’s Trophy – as they attempt to build upon a deserved victory.
STAGS XI: Štěch (GK), Benning, Rawson, Charsley, Bowery, Maris, Gordon, Perch ©, McLaughlin, Maynard (O’Keeffe 81’), Lapslie
UNUSED SUBS: Stone (GK), Menayese, Cook, O’Driscoll, Reid, Sinclair
SUNDERLAND XI: Matthews (GK), McLaughlin, Flanagan, Power ©, Maguire (Embleton 66’), Dobson, Sanderson, Graham (Wyke 66’), Diamond, Grigg, McFadzean (O’Brien 75’)
UNUSED SUBS: Burge (GK), Willis, Leadbitter, Neil
REFEREE: Anthony Backhouse
ASSISTANTS: Geoffrey Liddle & Matthew Parry
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Matthew Dicicco