Boss Funk angry after rare blip for leaders AFC Mansfield

Ollie Fearon, who went closest to breaking the deadlock for AFC Mansfield.
Ollie Fearon, who went closest to breaking the deadlock for AFC Mansfield.

Manager Rudy Funk wasn’t happy as runaway leaders AFC Mansfield suffered a rare blip in what has been an extraordinary season so far.

The Bulls, who top the Toolstation Northern Counties East League’s Premier Division by 17 points, failed to score for only the second time this season when held to a goalless draw by Penistone Church.

And Funk didn’t mince his words afterwards when saying: “The players lacked discipline and fight, and I underlined this to them in the changing room.

“First things first: fair play to Penistone. But I am not too pleased at all with the result.”

Assistant manager Mark Ward also bemoaned the hiccup in AFC’s form after 23 victories in their previous 30 league games.

Ward said: “I think we worked fairly hard, but we didn’t compete in the final third of the pitch. Both defences won the battle. We were hoping for that little bit of quality to shine through. But in the end, that didn’t arrive.”

Away from the criticism, the result still extended the Mansfield side’s remarkable unbeaten run to 18 matches, and they will be hopeful of regaining the winning thread this Saturday when they entertain Liversedge at the Forest Town Arena.

It must be said too that Barnsley outfit Penistone are no mugs, even though AFC thumped them 5-0 at home earlier in the campaign. They sit eighth in the table and went into the match with an excellent home record of ten wins and only two defeats from 14 games, in which they had racked up 45 goals, the highest tally in the division.

Mind you, The Bulls had plundered 46 goals themselves in 16 matches away from home, which probably explains the frustration of Funk and Ward.

In front of a healthy-sized crowd of 223, the closest they came to breaking the goalless deadlock came on the stroke of half-time when a towering header by striker Ollie Fearon was somehow tipped on to a post by Penistone goalkeeper Chris Snaith.

It was the pick of three terrific saves by Snaith, who also denied Connor Smythe and Matty Plummer during the opening 45 minutes.

At the other end, the visitors rode their luck at times as Penistone failed to make the most of their chances. They also found ‘keeper Jason White in solid form, particuarly when he foiled a couple of openings for Nathan Keightly.

Adding to AFC’s disappointments was the substition of Mark Dudley early in the second half with a ‘dead leg’.