A late winner from Brad Wells squeezed AFC Mansfield into the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after a scare against spirited underdogs Stourport Swifts.
Wells struck in the 82nd minute to seal a 2-1 victory for the Bulls after the Worcestershire visitors, who play in the Midland League, had taken a surprise lead.
Assistant boss Mark Ward felt frustration hampered AFC in the first half when they missed some early chances, but belief in themselves carried them over the line.
“We dropped our workrate, and Stourport took advantage,” said Ward. “But we always felt we were in the game and we reiterated to the players to keep believing and keep working.”
Swifts’ goal came in the 41st minute when full-back Ben Priest fired a rocket into the top corner. But AFC were soon piling on the pressure in the second half and were rewarded on 57 when top scorer Lynton Karkach clinically fired into the bottom corner.
They might have left it late, but the winning goal never appeared to be in doubt and when Wells danced through the defence before pummelling the ball home off the leg of ‘keeper Zach Jeacock, the crowd of 213 were on their feet in celebration.
Both Ward and manager Rudy Funk were particularly pleased with the performance of debutant defender Jack Broadhead.
AFC LINE-UP -- White/ Marsden, Dudley (Burton 61), D’Laryea, Broadhead, Annable, Karkach, Buxton (Lindley 85), Dear, Wells, Ghaichem.