AFC crush Clay Cross, Glapwell fight back
AFC Mansfield started the game with 4 of their U19 squad starting the game, an indication of the excellent work being done by U19 managers Jason Truscott and Alex Weston.
Two goals each from Toby Birch, Declan Brewin and Mark Carter were rounded off by a 35 yard strike from Phil Buxton with the home side replying through Barry Alberry, Luke Hollis and Ritchie Matthews.
The Bulls were denied an opening goal from keeper Ryan Fletcher with some controversial decision-making from the man in the middle.
A long kick upfield which bounced once in front of the opposition keeper and then into the net was pulled back for offside, with the referee saying that, despite no AFC player being within 10 yards of the keeper, that somebody had interfered with him.
However, AFC put this behind them and soon went in front.
Toby Birch outstripped the pedestrian home defence on seven minutes before firing against the post. Fortunately Declan Brewin was on hand to follow up and stroke the ball home from 10 yards.
Brewin turned provider on 16 minutes, crossing from the right for Mark Carter to head home his 25th league goal of the season.
It was 3-0 on 20 minutes, the impressive Birch hitting the bar with a stinging drive and Carter on hand for number 26.
An 36 minutes, a 50-50 ball between Brewin and keeper Matt Bradwell saw the striker just get a touch first with the keeper clattering into him.
The referee immediately blew for a foul as, meanwhile, the ball ended in the net.
But instead of pulling the play back for the foul he then changed his mind gave the goal but booked the keeper for the foul.
Phil Buxton added the fifth just inside time added on with a 35 yard low drive that had Bradwell at full stretch.
The sixth followed a couple of minutes later when Birch finally got the goal he so richly deserved, beating the offside trap before firing confidently past the advancing Bradwell.
The home side pulled a goal back just five minutes after the restart, a corner from the left headed home by Barry Alberry.
A second came a few minutes later and almost a carbon copy, this time Luke Hollis getting on the end of a good corner.
On the hour mark Brewin appeared offside as he collected Danny Naylor’s through ball.
The referee had no choice but to play on as his assistant had his back to play, having a running argument with the home bench. Luckily the danger was cleared but the displeasure of the Clay Cross defence was clearly passed on to the assistant.
The referee tried to remove the home side’s physio from the dugout asking if the AFC physio could take on his duties, but the visitors refused.
Carter missed his hat-trick on 85 minutes when his effort came back off the post but man of the match Toby Birch fired home from 10 yards for his second and AFC Mansfield’s seventh.
There was still time for the home side to grab another, an unfortunate fumble from keeper Ryan Fletcher in an otherwise excellent performance letting in Ritchie Matthews, who bundled the ball home from inside the six yard box.
This was fantastic entertainment for the 101 watching, played with good spirit and friendliness but not the best performance from the officials.
AFC Mansfield now move on to Wednesday and the semi-final of the League Cup against Belper United at Hucknall Town’s ground.
It is a re-run of last year’s semi in which the Bulls triumphed with a goal in the final minutes from Carl Haslam.
CLAY CROSS TOWN: Bradwell, Hallam (Meadley 70), Matthews, Hollis, Burton, Alberry, Goodwin, Robinson, Clayton, Lynham (Goodison 45), Bartram. Subs not used: Shaw, Topham.
AFC MANSFIELD: Fletcher, Wilson, Capuano, Holmes, Draper (Tighe 67), Naylor D, Buxton (Naylor J 76), Bettison, Birch, Brewin, Carter. Subs not used: Timons, Rick, Sheppard.
REFEREE: Mr S Thompson
BULLS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Toby Birch.
Glapwell produced a great second-half comeback as they fought back from 3-1 down just after the break to clinch a last minute 4-3 Central Midlands League North victory over Phoenix at Pavilion Lane.
Glapwell started the game fairly well and had the first chance, but Ashley Ruse fired over at the back post, while at the other end Ryan Hopkins denied Steve McDonnell before Luke Fisher covered well to block James Cregan’s effort on the line.
On 24 minutes, though, Glapwell broke the deadlock as Ash Barber swept home James Whitfield’s corner from the left.
But the lead lasted only five minutes as Andy Garlick was awarded a free header six yards out.
The home side then went in front for the first time right on the stroke of half-time when Steve McDonnell’s free kick from the left touchline curled all the way into the far corner.
Three minutes after half-time, Glapwell looked out of it as the hosts extended their lead when James Cregan tucked the ball into the bottom corner.
But Glapwell responded well and reduced the deficit when James Whitfield held off a challenge and rounded Matt Herschell-Smith to score in his fifth successive game.
Ash Barber then saw an effort bounce out off the top of the bar.
But Glapwell did get themselves on level terms on 66 minutes when Jake Wharton headed home Carl Vickers’ searching delivery from the right.
From that point, there seemed to be only one winner and Glapwell had chances to take the lead again but, just as it looked like they would have to settle for a point, they won it in the final minute when Brad Dowdall picked out Ash Barber, who cut inside from the right before curling an effort into the far corner from just inside the area.