A Mansfield Town XI were knocked out of the Notts Senior Cup at the semi-final stage last night, losing 4-2 on penalties to Carlton Town at One Call Stadium.
A second-half strike from Jimmy Knowles levelled the contest for Stags but after 90 minutes, the two teams couldn’t be separated.
Mansfield’s side saw the inclusion of some first team players needing minutes. Centre-back Riley Harbottle, midfielders Ollie Clarke and George Maris and forwards Jordan Bowery and Jimmy Knowles started the contest.
Stags had the first opportunity to gain the lead on six minutes when a lightning-fast counterattack ended with Knowles dragging his effort narrowly wide of Carlton goalkeeper Michael Emery’s far post.
The visitors had a chance of their own to break the deadlock on 21 minutes. Striker Nathan Watson fired a ferocious effort on goal, but Stags’ shot-stopper Louie Turner got down low to make a top save.
Club captain Ollie Clarke found himself in space moments later. After receiving the ball on the edge of the area, the combative midfielder’s attempt on goal was collected by Carlton’s ‘keeper.
Following an end-to-end start, the Millers were given a golden opportunity to edge in front on 40 minutes. Referee Karl Bainbridge pointed to the spot after spotting a handball in the Stags’ area. Despite being the visitors’ goalkeeper, Emery stepped up and coolly slotted the spot-kick past Turner to give his side the lead shortly before the break.
The start of the second-half saw Mansfield’s first substitution as defender Tyler Whyle replaced right-back Taylor Anderson after the latter sustained an injury towards the end of the first-half.
Clarke had another effort on goal soon after the break. After receiving the ball from frontman Knowles, the skipper forced Emery once again into making a smart stop.
The hosts made a second change of the evening on 52 minutes as attack-minded midfielder Jakub Kruszynski replaced central-midfielder Curtis Davies.
Mansfield levelled proceedings just one minute later. After receiving the ball inside the Carlton area, Knowles turned superbly before placing his effort into the far corner.
In form under-19s’ attacker McKeal Abdullah entered the fray on 62 minutes replacing Ollie Clarke.
George Maris had two promising chances to give his side the advantage on 62 and 75 minutes but both efforts went wide of Carlton’s goal, keeping the score level.
After soaking up large amounts of pressure, Millers’ attacker Alex Howes, who was introduced shortly after the hour mark, looked set to give his side the lead on 82 minutes with a lob over Turner. Retreating back towards his net, the young ‘keeper managed to get back on his line and make an outstanding save as he tipped the ball over the bar.
Turner came to Mansfield’s rescue once again on 88 minutes as Howes fired an effort on goal. The Stags’ goalkeeper managed to get down low and make a brilliant save to keep his side in the game.
The final chance of the game came on 91 minutes as substitute Whyle set up Maris whose effort was tipped over the bar by the impressive Emery.
With the game level after 90 minutes, penalties were required to see which side would progress through to the Notts Senior Cup Final.
With the spot-kicks scored at 3-2 in favour of the away side, Alex Howes provided the winning penalty for Carlton.
Despite a strong display and a beneficial experience for several members of Stags’ Academy, Carlton progressed through to the Notts Senior Cup Final.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Turner, Anderson (Whyle 47), Harbottle, Maher, Bonser, Carter, Clarke (Abdullah 62), Davies (Kruszynski 52), Maris, Bowery, Knowles
UNUSED SUBS: Collin, Flanagan
CARLTON TOWN: Emery, Stewart, Hylton (Howes 63), Brown, Freeman, Holmes (Wells 75), Tomlin, Sargent, Watson, O’Connor (Blake 70), Davie
UNUSED SUBS: Stainsby, Dixon, Durow
REFEREE: Karl Bainbridge