F.A. Trophy 1st Qualifying Round Replay

Hednesford Town

AFC Mansfield

K. Wells (36)

(0) 0

(1) 1



Current Form

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Michael Howard




Bamber Bridge (H) 3.11.18

The winners of the 2004 F.A. Trophy are unceremoniously dumped out of this season's competition at the first hurdle tonight, as toothless and uninspired Hednesford side are deservedly beaten by step four AFC Mansfield in tonight's first qualifying round replay at Keys Park


Saturday's unconvincing display by the Pitmen at Mansfield's Forest Town Arena had earned Evo-Stik League East side Mansfield a second crack at their Premier League opponents after looking the more likely to win the tie on Saturday and create an upset. Manager Rob Smith was once again without the services of midfielder Josh Craddock, who was unwell, joining Jed Davies and Matt Dodd on the sidelines. There was some long-overdue good news on the injury front, however, with Stefan Galinski returning to the side in place of Craddock after his injury at Matlock Town had kept him out for the last two games, whilst Charlie Gatter's broken rib had healed sufficiently for the centre-back to be named as one of the substitutes


Rudy Funk's Mansfield side had impressed at the weekend with their battling approach to the game, earning a replay through Phil Buxton's excellent second-half header. Funk saw no reason to make changes to his side, naming the exact same XI and substitutes as he had done on Saturday


It was the coldest night of the season so far, with temperatures at kick-off hovering just above freezing. Perhaps, then, it was no surprise to see only 174 souls braving the elements, adding to the general malaise around the club at present and the inconsistent form shown by the club in recent weeks


Josef Bursik's gloves were warmed up with the first attack of the game, however, as the Hednesford stopper made a fine early save to deny Mansfield striker Kieran Wells in the second minute. Callum Coyle's attempted clearance bounced kindly into the path of the striker, who tried his luck with a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area that had Bursik reaching upwards to pluck the ball out of the air


Wells was involved once more for the visitors in the ninth minute, heading a Mark Dudley cross narrowly wide of the far post as Mansfield enjoyed much the better of the opening exchanges


The Pitmen finally offered an attacking threat with their first chance of the game on fifteen minutes as Matt Curley made his way down the right and sent over a dangerous cross that was glanced well wide by Dan Sweeney


Sweeney turned creator for the Pitmen six minutes later, leading the Mansfield defence a merry dance with his skill out on the right before driving in a low cross that evaded Lewis Archer and Coyle in the middle


It had been a poor opening quarter from the hosts, with the onus on them to settle the tie on their own patch after Saturday's mediocre performance. They were given another let-off just before the half-hour mark as Mansfield broke quickly from their own half through Jimmy Ghiachem and Brad Wells, culminating in a cross from Wells into the feet of Ghiachem, who forced Bursik into a fine save with a sidefooted shot at goal from twelve yards out 


Hednesford responded through Sweeney, who wasted the Pitmen's best opening of the game on thirty-three minutes as he raced onto a Joe Fitzpatrick through ball before taking it around the onrushing Jason White, only to lash his angled shot wildly over the crossbar


Curley made a rare foray infield for the Pitmen a minute later, taking the ball deep into the Mansfield half before driving a low shot at goal that was saved by White


Mansfield scored what was to be the all-important goal on thirty-six minutes, as he was played through the Hednesford defence by a long ball from Pat Lindley. The big striker showed composure to steady himself and calmly sidefoot the ball beyond Bursik and into the net from just outside the penalty area


Fitzpatrick went close to an immediate response for the wounded hosts three minutes later, as his long-range free-kick dipped and swerved but just missed the post as it flew wide


Sweeney ended a rotten half for the hosts in the referee's notebook following a late challenge on Brad Wells in midfield, with the striker picking up yet another caution for a foul and subsequent dissent


Half-time saw a sprinkling of boos ring around the sparsely-populated Keys Park as the Pitmen trudged off for what was no doubt an aggressive half-time speech from Smith. The Hednesford manager made a positional change at the break, bringing on Michael Howard to bolster his shot-shy attack in place of Nathan Fox. This switch saw Matt Curley move to left-back and Callam Mendez-Jones switch to right-back in the reshuffle


The introduction of Howard had a positive effect on the Pitmen, who looked more purposeful in the opening stages of the second period. Good wing play from Sweeney on forty-eight minutes saw him bundle his way past two challenges and attempt to find Archer in the six-yard box, only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle from Jordan Annable


The visitors were content to play on the counter-attack, with the Wells brothers involved once more on fifty-six minutes as Bursik claimed a high ball ahead of goalscorer Kieran


Sweeney was lucky to escape another caution on the hour mark, as he was pulled up once again for a late challenge. The referee deployed a rare bout of common sense and gave Sweeney a final warning, in the presence of his captain Galinski


A great run from Howard deserved a lot more for the Pitmen on sixty-two minutes, as he ran the length of the Mansfield half down the right before sending over a great cross that was not attacked by anyone in a white shirt. The ball eventually found it's way to Fitzpatrick, who incurred the wrath of the Hednesford supporters by lashing his shot high and wide from a decent position just inside the Mansfield penalty area


On sixty-seven minutes, Reece King - who had proved ineffective in midfield - was brought off with Dan Cockerline coming on to add more bodies to the forward line


A run and cross from Curley down the left found Sweeney on the edge of the penalty area on sixty-nine minutes, with the young striker taking a touch before attempted an overhead kick that flew high into the Heath Hayes end


Mansfield'attacking threat had been limited during the second period, but they still threatened intermittently; a free-kick from Dudley on seventy-three minutes found the head of Lindley, who flicked the ball on to Brad Wells. His first-time cross back into the danger zone just failed to find his brother, who had moved in front of the ball in search of a killer second goal


A minute later, Kieran Wells lifted the ball over the Hednesford defence and into the path of brother Brad, whose goalbound effort was turned away by Bursik at his near post


The Pitmen's hapless evening was summed up somewhat with thirteen minutes remaining, as superb run and cross from Archer found Sweeney unmarked, with the on-loan striker's goalbound effort seemingly heading for the corner of the net until it inexplicably struck Cockerline, who diverted the ball away from goal with his head


With eight minutes remaining, Galinksi was given a rest to protect his fitness, as he was replaced by Sam Grimshaw. Once again, this required a formation change, with Curley returning to the right side of the pitch as right-back and Callam Mendez-Jones moving to centre-back in a flat back four as Grimshaw took up his position at left-back


The Pitmen threw everything at Mansfield in the final minutes, with Mendez-Jones missing the best of the Pitmen's late chances to take the game into extra-time as he lifted Fitzpatrick's cut-back high over the crossbar from the penalty spot with a typical defender's finish


In the first of six minutes of added time, it was Mendez-Jones that was again unmarked in the penalty area as Fitzpatrick's drifting corner kick found the defender once more, only for his volley to sail harmlessly wide of goal


All in all, a pretty depressing night for the Pitmen and Smith, as they got exactly what they deserved for a negative, uninspiring approach to both games - defeat and missing out on the £3,250 prize money. There is a growing feeling that some of the players currently at the club may be at the end of their time at Hednesford, something Smith alluded to a few games ago. This may be just the event to convince Smith to dispense with four or five players' services and freshen the squad up at this point, much as he did at this point last season when Gatter, Curley, James Fitzgibbon and latterly Mason Walsh came in to give the squad a shot in the arm. Newly-promoted Bamber Bridge will be the next side to visit Keys Park at the weekend, looking to take advantage of the Pitmen's poor run of home form


Hednesford Town: Bursik, Mendez-Jones, Griffiths, Fitzpatrick, Galinski © (Grimshaw 82), King (Cockerline 67), Curley, Coyle, Archer, Sweeney , Fox (Howard 45)   Subs Unused: Gatter, Veiga


AFC Mansfield: White, Marsden, Dudley, D'Laryea ©, Annable (Wall 60), Broadhead, Ghaichem, Buxton, K. Wells (Dear 80), Lindley , B. Wells    Subs Unused: Guest, Burton, Dawes