Hat-trick triple as AFC Mansfield home in on title

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There were three hat-tricks in this free-scoring game and AFC Mansfield bagged two of them as they edged closed to the Central Midlands League North title with an 8-3 win at Bentley Colliery.

There were trebles from both Dean Rick and Mark Carter, with other goals from Carl Haslam and Darren Bettison which proved too much for Bentley, who had their own hat-trick hero in Lee Drobac.

AFC Mansfield had five players missing from the squad and so Brad Wilson started at left back and Rick came back into the starting line-up.

Manager Micky Taylor sent out an attacking side and it shocked everybody when the Bulls went behind after nine minutes.

Indecision at the back for the visitors, allowing Kevin Lynch the time to find the head of Lee Drobac with a cross, the striker’s header looping over Dale Sheppard and into the back of the net.

The Bulls poured forward, but as in their previous encounter Bentley packed their defence and made it difficult to find an opening.

Haslam pulled the ball back to Joe Naylor on 22 minutes but the midfielder put his effort over the bar.

The half-hour mark saw another Naylor effort go wide of the mark, this time Rick the provider.

But AFC Mansfield were back on level terms on 34 minutes. Rick played a clever little chip to put Mark Carter clear and, with some neat footwork, he guided the ball low into the right hand corner of the net.

Two minutes into added on time at the end of the first half, the visitors went in front.

A superb curling cross to the far post from Danny Tighe found Haslam, who rose above his marker to head past Mike Teale.

Barely two minutes had been played in the second half when the Bulls went further in front. Another good delivery from Tighe found Rick who headed past Teale from six yards.

Rick made it 4-1 on the hour mark. Picking the ball up just outside the box, a surging run took him past three defenders before a low drive sent Teale the wrong way.

The home side pulled one back a minute later, Drobac grabbing his second with a speculative shot from the edge of the box.

On 70 minutes Rick was upended in the box, he picked himself up to take the spot kick but Teale denied him with a great save down to his left.

When the ball was eventually knocked back in to the box Rick fired home but was ruled to be offside by the assistant referee.

Another great run from Haslam on 72 minutes saw his low cross clinically finished by Carter six yards out.

Rick completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes, Buxton the provider for another clinical finish from the league’s top scorer.

Not to be outdone, two minutes later Carter completed his hat-trick to make it 7-2 to the Mansfield side.

Drobac completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Lynch had been upended by Chris Timons in the AFC Mansfield box on 84 minutes.

The final goal came on 89 minutes when Bettison made a surging run down the middle of the park.

His first effort was parried by Teale, but the loose ball fell to the feet of Bettison and he bundled it home from 10 yards.

A win at home next week against Harworth Colliery will seal the title for AFC Mansfield.