MANSFIELD Town became the latest cup giantkilling victims of valiant Conference North side Droylsden as a Dale Johnson double knocked last year’s finalists out of the FA Trophy 2-1 at the first round stage at the Butchers Arms Ground today.
Furious boss Paul Cox described it as the worst performance of the season, apologised to travelling fans and vowed to have his players in running tomorrow morning.
The Bloods were good value for their victory at a ground where the home side have taken several notable scalps in recent years in cup competitions.
Heavy rain left the pitch sopping wet and more fell during the half with Droylsden looking more comfortable on it and playing some excellent football in the first half and then, with Stags pressing hard near the end, defended magnificently.
Matt Green did pull a late goal back, but it was too little too late.
The Stags side showed two changes with Kelly making a debut at left back in place of Freeman, who was rested with a slight hamstring strain, and Verma returning from illness in midfield at the expense of Bolland.
Players struggled to keep their feet on the sodden surface in the early stages.
Gardner did well to get round Thompson on the right but there was no one there to profit from his intelligent pull-back.
Then Marriott needed two bites of the cherry to hold on to a stinging 20 yard shot from Johnson.
But it took a great stop from home keeper Phillips on 14 minutes to deny Green.
Stevenson capitalised on a slip by Holden to pull back a cross from the right which saw Green shape to meet it on the volley and fire in a great on-target finish which Phillips beat away and was then relieved to see Meikle blaze the loose ball over the top.
Brown also rifled a good shot over from a tight angle on the right when the home side suddenly had men over.
At the other end, a Mansfield counter-attack ended with Stevenson shooting low across the face of goal as the brain came down sharply again.
But on 20 minutes Stags found themselves in arrears as the Bloods went ahead via route one. Langford sent a long free kick down the centre where Johnson rose to nod a firm header past Marriott from 12 yards out.
Marriott was back in action to grab a decent Marshall free kick after Murray had conceded the foul 20 yards from goal.
Then Phillips safely held on to a Stevenson cross after Sutton had caught Hall in possession trying to play the ball out his own box.
A great pass from Gardner sent Holden on the overlap down the left and his low cross came off Sutton’s heel at the near post and passed inches wide for a corner.
The home side produced another good move own the centre from which Rowe, with Stags unable to dispossess him, eventually fired too high.
Dempster and Johnson were involved in a tugging match 20 yards from goal and when Dempster had the final tug to send Johnson to the turf, the Stags man was booked on 31 minutes and Rowe blasted the subsequent free kick into the wall.
Marriott again had to get it right as a low 20 yard Rowe shot skidded in precariously on the wet surface towards him, the keeper getting his body fully behind it.
Droylsden again waltzed through the middle of the Mansfield rearguard just before the break and Hall set up Gardner for a shot Marriott beat away and when Killeen followed-up, again Marriott was there as Stags went in glad to only be one goal in arrears.
Mansfield came back out looking fired up and quickly won a corner.
But it was Marriott who made the first save as Rowe found space to run left to right before opting to shoot instead of cross, Marriott beating it out as far as Hall who hoisted a finish well over the top.
More Mansfield pressure saw Langford get his head in the way of a Meikle shot after a near pass from Verma.
Marshall headed clear the corner but then slipped as Verma ran at him and hammered the ball in low where Phillips was in the way at the near post before anyone could turn the loose ball home.
Then Verma got a 25 yard free kick over the ball but wide of the left hand post.
However, the home side struck a deadly blow on 57 minutes as Johnson doubled his tally.
Again it was simple and straight down the centre but this time Johnson ran with the ball straight through the defence from 30 yards out to strike a perfect low finish to Marriott’s right and just inside the post.
That prompted a double change for Stags on 61 minutes. Briscoe replaced Stevenson in midfield while Thompson was withdraw, O’Neil coming on to play right back and Sutton going in the centre of defence.
Kelly was afforded space to run and shoot from 30 yards but it was always well over the top.
A great through ball from Dempster on 65 minutes put Green in on goal. He twisted and turned and tried to round the keeper but saw Phillips manage to get his body in the way of his finish and all Stags had to show for a promising situation was a corner.
Bolland had to replace Verma, whose hamstring had tightened, on 74 minutes which meant all subs were used and Stags were unable to throw on the pace of Rodney.
In a rare home attack, Rowe was never going to beat Marriott with his long range effort, though it was bang on target.
A long O’Neill ball saw Kelly try to guide it on target at the far post, but a defender was in the way and again all Stags had was a corner.
Two more flag kicks followed as Droylsden defended valiantly.
But Mansfield did give themselves a lifeline with six minutes to go. Murray lifted a dangerous ball into the box where Green’s header deflected up and over the stranded keeper.
A home break saw Marriott down again to keep out Hall’s low blast after Rowe had helped the ball on for him.
Rowes’s foul on O’Neill with three minutes left, saw him booked as time began to run out on Paul Cox’s men.
Meikle’s shot in the first minute of stoppage time took a deflection, but Phillips safely watched it into his arms.
Deep into stoppage time, Phillips fisted away a dangerous O’Neill free kick and then the defence headed clear from another O’Neill ball as the Bloods held firm for another famous cup win to their list of scalps.
DROYLSDEN: Phillips, Brown, Holden, Langford, Kerr, Marshall, Killeen, Hall (Rouse 90+4), Rowe (Peyton 89), Johnson, Gardner (Kilheeney 81). Subs not used: Gerrard, Lake.
STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Thompson (O’Neill 61), Kelly; Murray, Verma (Bolland 74), Stevenson (Briscoe 61); Dyer, Green, Meikle. Subs not used: Rodney, Redmond.
REFEREE: S. Martin of Stafford.