Matlock earn a second chance after handing Stags a lesson in Trophy draw
A SUPERB team performance gave Matlock Town a thoroughly deserved FA Trophy first round replay against their Blue Square Bet Premier neighbours.
It might have been 1976 all over again as the Gladiators could even have won it at the first time of asking. Certainly, it was Mansfield Town who came off mightily relieved to be still in the competition.
The replay will be played tomorrow night at the Reynolds Stadium (7.45pm).
The Stags' man of the match was undoubtedly goalkeeper Shane Redmond, whose list of fine saves included a fantastic block from a Lewis McMahon penalty and an even better stop from James Ashmore's goal-bound follow-up.
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That big escape for Mansfield came in the seventh minute, brought about when Massiah McDonald was up-ended by a lunge from John Thompson, who received only a yellow card when some referees would have brandished a red.
Earlier, an Adam Murray strike flashed inches past Jon Kennedy's right-hand post, while at the other end, Glyn Cotton's through pass saw Redmond dive bravely at McDonald's feet.
After 13 minutes, Cotton released McDonald again but Redmond produced a low save from the striker's shot.
Roe, who started on the left of midfield, had to revert to his more usual full-back position when Laurence Gaughan limped off and four minutes later, the Stags got the goal which ought to have settled them down.
Louis Briscoe's well-struck shot bounced awkwardly in front of Kennedy, who could only parry and Murray slotted home the loose ball.
But Mark Atkins' fighting Gladiators, urged on by 250 fans, would not lie down and scored a brilliant equaliser after 38 minutes.
A wonderful backheel from McDonald after a neatly constructed attack was put away expertly by McMahon with a calm side-foot finish.
Bradley Grayson fired at Redmond after a fine individual run in the 47th minute as Matlock took the game to their hosts.
Mansfield repeatedly gave the ball away while, in contrast, the Gladiators treated the crowd to a pleasing-on-the-eye passing game. A neutral would have thought they were the full-time outfit.
A Gareth Davies centre was deflected behind with McDonald and McMahon waiting to pounce, Grayson had an effort charged down and McMahon raced down the left only for Redmond to superbly grasp his low cross at full stretch with McDonald again looking for the scraps.
McDonald cut in from the left to fire high and wide and deep into stoppage time, Grayson might have dramatically won it but with Redmond off his line, he slipped as he was about to shoot.
He needed an extra touch and could not find sufficient power in his on-target shot which was hacked clear by Luke Jones.
Stags substitute Matt Rhead failed to make the most of a couple of late chances but had they gone in it would have been extremely rough justice on Matlock.
Mansfield manager Paul Cox labelled his side's performance "dire" but his opposite number was delighted.
"It was a good performance and that's what we came here to do," said Atkins.
"We're disappointed we didn't win the game but overall we're very happy and I was delighted with the way we tried to play the game.
"We had two or three opportunities in the second half which were good chances and with a little bit of luck, something might have fallen our way.
"Now we have another great game which will be a reward for our fans."
MANSFIELD TOWN: Redmond, Thompson, Geohagan, Jones, Sutton, Briscoe, Murray, Clements, Meikle (Wright, 62), Hutchinson (Rhead, 74), Green (Speight, 67). Other subs: Howell, Daniel.
MATLOCK TOWN: Kennedy, Harcourt, Roe, Gaughan (Grayson, 21), Yates, Lukic, Cotton (Leesley, 90+2), Ashmore, McDonald, McMahon, Davies. Other subs: Dennis, Travis, Leese.
REFEREE: C Kavanagh (Ashton-u-Lyne).