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1st December 2019 0:32

The Emirates FA Cup - Round Two
Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Mansfield Town
Laurent 88, Walker 90+5. Norburn sent off 60
Attendance: 3678 (465 from Mansfield)

Date: 30 November 2019

Martin Shaw at the New Meadow (now also known as Montgomery Waters Meadow)

Mansfield Town’s disappointing season went from bad to worse this afternoon, knocked out of the FA Cup at League One Shrewsbury Town. The Stags had done well to hold their own for 60 minutes in an even game against their higher league opponents, and had come close to taking the lead after 57 minutes when Nicky Maynard turned superbly and put a low ball across for Andy Cook whose close range effort was blocked on the line.
Then Shrewsbury had midfielder Ollie Norburn sent off for kicking the ball into Jacob Mellis’s face as Mellis lay on the ground after a whistle had gone for a free kick.
This presented the Stags with a glorious opportunity to push for a winner against ten men for more than half an hour. But instead of going for the jugular, the Stags failed to create a single shot on goal in that thirty minute period. Indeed it took 20 of those 30 minutes before boss John Dempster made an attacking substitution to react to the one man advantage. It was Shrewsbury who looked the better side in that period, creating a few chances as Josh Laurent headed over the bar, Donald Love sidefooted wide from a great position, and Laurent headed another one wide.
Then on 88 minutes, the Stags had a free kick 30 yards out. Conor Shaughnessy’s delivery was straight to Shrewsbury keeper Max O’Leary. Shrewsbury broke straight to the other end, sub Dan Udoh’s shot from the edge of the box looped up off Matt Preston and Laurent turned the loose ball into the net.
Finally Mansfield created a chance as sub Omari Sterling-James put in a high hanging cross and Cook attacked it and headed over the bar. But then in the final minute of stoppage time, as Mansfield piled bodies forward, Shrewsbury broke through Udoh again from well inside his own half and he laid off to another sub Brad Walker who rounded Conrad Logan and fired into the net to make it 2-0. The second goal was a product of Mansfield desperately searching for a late goal and that can happen.
But following on from this season’s league form which has the Stags just two points above third bottom place approaching the halfway point in the season, the FA Cup provided a chance for some much needed respite and perhaps a plum third round tie, and that opportunity was certainly there for the taking in the final thirty minutes against ten men. But Mansfield failed to take it with a really poor showing, and it was a huge opportunity missed.
Mansfield’s last visit to Shrewsbury five years ago resulted in a defeat in the league, following by failing to beat Concord Rangers in an FA Cup tie, and that signalled the departure of manager Paul Cox. No-one could be surprised if manager John Dempster goes the same way after his side has picked up just 21 points from 19 games in the league and now been knocked out of the FA Cup despite the great opportunity they had today. Dempster is a thoroughly decent bloke, who had done a tremendous job in the Academy. But any first team manager needs good results, and Dempster simply hasn’t had enough of them.