Bulls charge on to for a perfect birthday gift

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Birthday boy Mark Ward celebrated with three points alongside manager Rudy Funk, who outlined the player’s importance to leaders AFC Mansfield following their 3-0 win at second-placed Handsworth Parramore.

An early goal in each half by Connor Smythe and Matty Plummer gave the visitors a deserved two-goal advantage, before Smythe added his second.

Ward said: “The game was built up due to it being a top-of-the-table clash (in the NCEL Premier), butit was just another game.

“The lads worked tremendously hard in training, and I said if they go and perform like they have been doing we’d be more than capable of producing another three points.”

Funk reiterated his managerial partner’s comments, stating: “I didn’t know what to get Mark for his birthday, but I think the victory is better than anything I could have conjured up.”

The Bulls took the lead after three minutes. Smythe, unmarked following a corner, was able to smash ball home from close range.

After spurning several chances to extend their lead, it was the fifth time in six games that Funk’s side found themselves 1-0 up at half-time.

Plummer nipped around the back from a Philip Buxton corner and turned the ball in with a powerful half-volley to double the visitors’ lead.

Jason White denied Aaron Moxam one-on-one to preserve the advantage before Smythe struck again when Gary Stevens spilled the ball following a Buxton effort.