BEING a substitute goalkeeper can be a rather difficult task for the reserve who does all the same training and match day build-up as the number one choice, but with little chance of ever taking to the field.
But Mansfield Town’s reserve goalkeeper Martin New rose to the challenge in fantastic fashion as he came off the bench to replace the injured Rod Arnold and help Stags overcome Partrick Thistle in the quarter-final second leg of the Anglo-Scottish cup on 3rd October 1978.
Mansfield went into the contest trailing 1-0 after their first-leg defeat north of the border. And with 65 minutes of the game gone, things took a dramatic turn for the worse for the Field Mill side, when the popular goalkeeper left the field nursing an injury.
“When I came on we were losing on aggregate,”recalls Martin. “It was hard being in the shadow of Rod, because he was very popular at the club and a very good goalkeeper.
“I had not been at the club very long and I was just pleased to get on the pitch, to have my opportunity and be part of the atmosphere.”
Despite being thrown in at the deep end, New went on to make two magnificent saves in extra-time, which Arnold himself would have been mighty proud of.
New then went one stage better as he destroyed the hopes of the Scottish outfit by saving their first two attempts in the deciding penalty shoot-out.
Kevin Bird, Barry Foster and Gary Saxby all scored from the spot easily - something which Mansfield had so badly lacked as they were relegated from Division Two the previous season.
Bobby Houston then hit his penalty - Partick’s fourth of the shoot-out - hopelessly wide to leave Mansfield celebrating progess to the semi-final, where they were defeated by eventual winners Burnley.
Added Martin: “The game will be more remembered for the penalty saves, but in normal time I had to make some pretty decent saves. There was no pressure on me during the penalty shoot-out, people were expected to score the penalties so it was a win-win situation for me. We had done really well to take the game to extra-time and penalties
“I remember saving one of them low to my left and then the other one I saved twice because the referee ordered it to be retaken. To win any game is a nice feeling, but to win a cup game in that fashion was excellent. It was a great night for myself and a great night for Mansfield Town.”
It had looked like Stags were heading out of the contest when Doug Somner fired the Scotsmen ahead with their first real attack of the game.
Mansfield’s hopes were revived at the start of the second half when Thistle goalkeeper Alan Rough made a hash of Gary Saxby’s 20 yarder to level the game on the night.
Stags once again had it all to do just two minutes later when Jim Melrose made it 2-1 to the visitors after excellent work down the flank by Houston.
But the brave Mansfield side once again showed a real never-say-die attitude as they came roaring back in the final 15 minutes to take the game into extra-time.
Mansfield’s other hero that night was Dave Goodwin, who converted from 12 yards after Ernie Moss had been fouled in the box in the 75th minute.
And it was Goodwin who also netted the crucial goal four minute from time, which levelled the cup tie on aggregate.
There was no more score in extra time, leaving Mansfield to wrap up a very memorable night and New to claim some much deserved glory.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Arnold, Bird, B. Foster, Miller, M. Saxby, McClelland, G. Saxby, Moss, Syrett, Goodwin, Martin: Substitutes: Phillips, New.
VENUE: Field Mill, 3rd October 1978.