A red card for goalkeeper Jason White proved costly as AFC Mansfield suffered defeat for the first time in eight games in a key promotion battle in the Northern Counties East League, Premier Division.
A trip to third-placed Bridlington Town, managed by ex-Stags player Curtis Woodhouse, was always going to be tough, especially when the home side took a 33rd minute lead. But when White was sent off only two minutes later after conceding a penalty, it became a mountainous task.
Full credit to AFC then for playing so well for 55 minutes with ten men, including stand-in goalie Grant Allott, who saved the spot-kick. They even looked the better side in the second half and were unfortunate to succumb to a 1-0 reverse that left them 13 points behind the Yorkshire side in seventh spot. Maybe it will be a different story when the two sides clash again next week.
The Bulls made a lethargic start, not helped by a strong wind in their faces, and Bridlington deservedly went ahead when a short corner wasn’t cut out and the delivery was met by a Chris Jenkinson header that sailed into the roof of the net.
White saw red after racing out of his goal to try and beat onrushing striker Brett Agnew to the ball. AFC felt he made little contact with the home player, but Hull referee Wayne Grunnill felt differently and not only awarded a penalty but also sent him packing for one of many dubious decisions.
As Allott took the gloves, he did superbly well to stop Andy Norfolk’s kick, blasted down the middle, and knock the ball to safety. With his confidence sky-high, Allott proceeded to produce a man-of-the-match performance, pulling off more vital saves later on to deny Agnew when he raced clear and then Joel Sutton when he had a gilt-edged chance in added time.
AFC had plenty of opportunities of their own, however, most notably on the hour when George Milner had an effort blocked on the line after Jimmy Ghaichem had sent him clear in the box.
Bridlington goalkeeper James Hitchcock also made a terrific diving save to tip Jamie Yates’s 25-yard free-kick round a post. And then in the dying minutes, a looping header from Matty Plummer bounced agonisingly off the bar.