New start for Ben Hutchinson and Mansfield Town after Southport victory
JUST a few days earlier, his former club Celtic were enjoying one of the greatest nights in their European history as they beat Barcelona.
Parkhead was bouncing as 55,000 fans went crazy as their side produced a heroic performance to see off such decorated players as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa.
It is hard to believe four years earlier, Ben Hutchinson was playing in the Champions League with the Hoops, playing his part as the crowd went wild during a 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
On Saturday, he was not on the pitch against Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Ryan Giggs.
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Instead it was Southport and in front of less than 2,000 fans.
It was a far cry from the world's biggest club football competition.
But for Hutchinson, he hopes his early close-range strike that won the game 1-0 is just the beginning of a new start for both him and Mansfield Town.
In terms of important goals, it is right up there and the fact when he left the One Call Stadium that evening he was still beaming told exactly how much it meant to him.
His crazy career has seen him go from local clubs Eastwood and then Arnold as a teenager to the Premier League with Middlesbrough, where he scored against Manchester City and into Europe with Celtic, then back down to non-league by the age of 24.
But he is far from washed up. And the same goes for Paul Cox's Stags.
On a personal level, Hutchinson has had to wait for his chance this season but by the time it came, he was craving action, desperate to get back on the pitch. He was hungry to prove himself, the past behind him and an opportunity to prove his talent again, to rebuild his career.
But while he has his own personal mission, the Stags have an even bigger one of their own in which Hutchinson is desperate to play his part.
After reaching third and missing out in the play-offs, they have stuttered badly this season despite investing in a big squad.
Cox took the big decision to trim the squad during the last fortnight, axe certain players and bring a togetherness to the side. And after a draw and much-improved performance against Nuneaton in midweek, he spoke about moving forward.
Saturday at home was always going to be the big test in front of their frustrated fans as they went into the game in 14th. But Hutchinson's second-minute strike settled the nerves and the Stags could have been a few goals ahead by the break.
In the second half, there were a few nervy scenarios but moments like captain John Dempster's double block on the edge of the box, to deny Chris Almond and then Steven Tames, as he threw himself into challenges, epitomised a new-found desire in the team.
It was a 1-0 victory, a sixth in nine home matches during a spell where they have only lost once, on the opening day to Newport. It is a fantastic record on their own patch, it is just the away form with one win on the road in the league that is killing them.
At least Cox is now able to find some consistency to his selection with no changes to the starting 11 at the weekend, just top scorer Jake Speight returning from injury to the bench in place of Colin Daniel.
And after two minutes, the Stags were in front. It all started with Lindon Meikle making a superb tackle on Shaun Whalley deep in his own half. The winger got to his feet, fed Nick Wright and he moved the ball out to the right flank for Louis Briscoe. It was the winger's turn to feed Wright down the side of the penalty area and when he crossed into the six-yard box, it fell invitingly to Hutchinson who fired home with his second touch.
It was a flowing move and set the tone in a match where the Stags mixed up their play, putting together some excellent phases of passing football.
Wright combined with Briscoe soon after before the striker saw his shot from the edge of the box saved by Tony McMillan. And on 18 minutes, Meikle broke at pace from his own half, with the Stags three-on-one, before finding Wright to his left. The striker, who opened his Stags account in the draw at Nuneaton a few days earlier, cut in from the side of the box but totally made a hash of his shot, slicing miles wide.
On 32 minutes, Clements fired in a superb cross from the right, Wright rose to head but put it wide of the far stick as Anthony Howell dived in to try to divert it beyond McMillan. And there was another opportunity for Wright before half-time as he broke clear, cut in from the left and lined up his shot only to put it too close to the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
In the second half there was a scare as Alan Moogan floated in a free kick and former Stag Simon Grand shook off Exodus Geohaghon. But, in front of the defender, he headed the wrong side of the post from seven yards out.
Dempster got in his two vital blocks as Mansfield ensured Southport did not get one meaningful shot on target throughout 90 minutes.
And late on, Meikle combined with Hutchinson, who slipped him down the left of the box in a quick move but after he laid the ball into the path of the onrushing Howell, the midfielder could not get it out of his feet to get his shot away.
They failed to build on the lead but have now conceded just once in their last three matches, as a new-found resolve seems to have been discovered by the Stags.
It was not Champions League but for Hutchinson and Mansfield, it felt like a new start.
A beginning that, if built on correctly, can unlock countless opportunities in the future for both the forward and the club.