Poor Mansfield scrape a replay against Matlock in FA Trophy
FOR Matlock supporters, it goes down as one of their finest days in history. For those of Mansfield persuasion, it is one to forget.
The non-league Gladiators and their merry trio of Fenoughty brothers came to the then named Field Mill on a winter's night in 1976 and caused a massive upset.
In the same season Stags sealed the old Division Three title – now League One – they lost in the FA Cup second round as Matlock sealed a memorable 5-2 win.
Today, the Stags are non-league themselves, but Matlock are still two tiers below and came as a bunch of part-timers looking to cause an upset on Saturday.
And, while there was no shock knockout like 1976, they forced a replay as Mansfield's chances of progress drowned in the driving afternoon rain.
Matlock no longer have Tom, Mick and Nick Fenoughty in their armoury, the former who managed on that famous day in their history and the latter who bagged two in the victory, but they emerged with new heroes as they headed back to Matlock in anticipation of tomorrow night's replay.
If anything, the Gladiators will be wondering how they did not come away with a place in the second round of the FA Trophy after a Stags performance boss Paul Cox could only label as "dire".
Cox made just one change, Exodus Geohaghon returning from a one-match ban to the centre of defence with Ritchie Sutton moving to left-back as Lee Beevers dropped out, not risked as he was one caution away from suspension.
Continuity had been the key to the six-game unbeaten run before this game and Cox was keen to continue in the same vein against Evo-Stik Premier opposition.
But, if anything, a third game in seven days on a heavy pitch in the pouring rain seemed to be too much for some, as players in amber and blue looked to be treading water by the final whistle.
Stags could have been behind on seven minutes. John Thompson got caught out in the box, allowing Phil Roe to get the better of him and the Stags full-back tugged Roe back and a penalty was awarded, Thompson booked.
But Shane Redmond produced heroics to keep his side in the game as he dived low to his right to keep out Lewis McMahon's spot kick and then produced a stunning second save, getting up and diving to his left to turn James Ashmore's follow up shot over the bar.
The warning was not heeded as former Carlton striker Massiah McDonald shook off Luke Jones, but his drilled angled effort was saved by Redmond.
Mansfield's Matt Green pulled a shot wide before the hosts had the lead as Adam Murray pounced midway in the Matlock half, spread it out wide to Louis Briscoe who fired in a low effort that Jon Kennedy could not hold and Murray, who had gambled on his run into the box, coolly lifted the rebound over the goalkeeper for his first goal since April 2011.
Briscoe then forced a save from Kennedy before, seven minutes from the break, Matlock equalised.
A swift passing movement culminated with McDonald being fed in the semi-circle on the edge of the box and he back-heeled into the path of the onrushing McMahon and the former Notts County midfielder made up for his spot kick miss by sweeping the ball into the bottom corner.
From there, it was all downhill for Mansfield who were awful in the second half. Bradley Grayson skipped beyond Geohaghon, but fired straight at Redmond.
After Hutchinson flashed a header wide, Grayson slipped McMahon in down the left and he fired a shot towards the back post that Redmond got down well to save, with Ashmore darting in at the back post. Then after McDonald cut in from left byline onto his right foot, he fired just over the far top corner.
Briscoe fired an effort from the edge of box that took a wicked deflection for a corner and from it Matt Rhead's downward header went wide of the far stick. Two minutes from time, Rhead then struck wide from close range.
But in injury time, Grayson shot from distance and Jones cleared off the line for Stags.
This was no hard luck story for Stags, as it was against Slough in the FA Cup when forced to a replay.
If anything, it was such a bad performance that they should be thankful of the short trip to Causeway Lane tomorrow to put it right and prevent Matlock from adding another memorable day in their history.