AFC Mansfield smash six past nearest title rivals

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AFC Mansfield went a long way to claiming the Central Midlands League North championship title with an emphatic 6-0 win against closest rivals Westella Hanson on Saturday.

In front of a bumper crowd of 149, it was important the Bulls got off to a good start, and Carl Haslam should have put them in front after just five minutes when he raced into the box but hit his effort straight at keeper Ryan Ramsden.

Two minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty when the ball was struck at Sam Holmes from point blank range hitting him on the arm. Mike Pecora stepped up but fired his spot kick wide of Alex Malong’s left hand post.

The visitors were punished a minute later when Dean Rick collected Phil Buxton’s low cross to fire past Ramsden and put the home side in front.

On the quarter-hour mark Steve McGurk saw his 48-yard free kick come back off the bar as the long ball fooled everybody.

Joe Naylor tried something similar two minutes later. Seeing the keeper off his line, Naylor’s 55- yard effort beat Ramsden but drifted wide of the mark.

Both teams lost their respective left backs through injury in the first half, Jack Walters going off on 22 minutes and Craig Cantrell lasted another 20 before being helped to the dressing room by physio Jason Truscott.

The Bulls’ doubled their lead on 25 minutes and it was a typical Carl Haslam goal.

Joe Naylor fed the ball to Haslam and the wingman skipped past two defenders and turned another in the box before firing past Ramsden from 12 yards.

Westella were now facing an uphill battle, though Chris Spinks had a chance on 36 minutes to get them back into it with a neat turn in the box, but his drive was always rising over the bar.

Haslam had another mazy run on 40 minutes, this time he only found the sidenetting from a tight angle.

The score stayed at 2-0 up to half time but nine minutes into the restart it was 3-0, and it was that man Haslam this time beating a very square Westella back line to race on and confidently fire past Ramsden from the edge of the box.

A rare mistake at the back for the home side let in Alex Wood, who struck the ball well and looked to have scored had it not been for the outstretched hand of keeper Alex Malong, who superbly denied the winger.

A minute later Malong did well again to tip a curling effort from Spinks over the bar.

Haslam again got behind Westella on 65 minutes, this time his effort went wide of the right hand post.

Alex Wood went close on 70 minutes but again could not find the target.

There was no way back for Westella on 78 minutes when a clever flick on by Danny Tighe found Mark Carter, who raced forward before curling the ball past the advancing Ramsden and into the back of the net.

It was 5-0 on 81 minutes. Haslam made another great run and, when the cross came in, Ramsden and defender Rob Dodson got in a tangle with Dodson getting the final touch to knock the ball into the net.

Wood saw his effort on 83 minutes come back off the post after beating Malong with a superb low drive from the edge of the box.

The final goal of the game was a peach as Phil Buxton advanced down the right flank and pulled the ball back to the edge of the box where Joe Naylor hit it first time and it flew past Ramden to complete the scoring.

AFC Mansfield are now 10 points clear at the top of the league but cannot rest on their laurels because they entertain Kinsley Boys on Wednesday night in the Phoenix Trophies Floodlit Cup Northern Area Final, kick-off 7.30pm.

AFC MANSFIELD: Sheppard, McGurk, Cantrell (Tighe 42), Holmes, Timons, D. Naylor, Buxton, J. Naylor, Rick (Wiltshire 60), Haslam, Carter (McCann 80). Subs not used: Draper, Rodger.

WESTELLA HANSON: Ramsden, Walters (Petch 63), Walters (Dodson 22), Bagshaw (Stevenson 63), Bettney, Fyvie, Wood, Gordon, Pecora, Spinks, Coverdale. Sub not used: Wilson.

REFEREE: Martin Fryer.