AFC Mansfield stay unbeaten after no-holds-barred affair
The unbeaten start to the new season by AFC Mansfield continued when they inflicted the first defeat on Sheffield visitors, Handsworth Parramore, on Saturday.
In a match soured only by a red card and all all-out melee involving several players midway through the second half, AFC won 2-0 to move up to fourth in the Toolstation Northern Counties East League, Premier Division table.
Handsworth, who had won their first three league games, played their part in a competitive, no-holds-barred game between two good sides, watched by a healthy-sized crowd, and they nearly took an early lead when clipping the bar with a header from a corner that home goalkeeper Jamie Green got a hand to.
But in the 23rd minute, it was the Bulls who made the vital breakthrough with an own goal. A free-kick, whipped in by man-of-the-match Connor Smythe, narrowly missed the head of Jordan Annable but cannoned off the foot of Jon Hill and past Chris Butt in the visitors’ net.
As AFC continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, it was almost two when Ollie Fearon’s close-range effort was turned round a post by Butt, and Annable headed wide from the resulting corner before Nick Guest had a strike blocked in the six-yard box.
Not until early in the second half was Bulls ‘keeper Green called into serious action again as he saved from a downward header by Jon Froggatt from a free-kick by substitute Danny Buttle.
A series of corners and dangerous throws were pumped into the box to put the hosts under more pressure, and Hill almost made his amends for his own goal by heading over.
AFC dealt quite well, though, and were boosted when Handsworth were reduced to ten men as Steve Istead received a straight red card for an over-the-ball tackle that triggered the melee. Once the dust had settled, yellow cards were shown to players on both sides, but with a man advantage, AFC went on to seal their win with a second goal two minutes from time. An effort from Ollie Saunders was blocked, only for the ball to fall into the path of substitute Lynton Karkach, who raced towards goal and fired across the advancing Butt and into the far corner.
AFC MANSFIELD LINE-UP -- Green/ Marsden, Dudley, D’Laryea, Annable, Wilson, Fearon, Buxton (Wall 83), Plummer (Dear 58), Ghaichem (Karkach 69), Smythe. Subs not used: Guest and Cullingworth.