Mansfield’s 14-game winless run is now over, after they caused an upset by knocking out League One opposition, Sunderland, in the first round of the FA Cup.
An excellent header from George Lapslie sealed Mansfield’s progression through to the second round of the famous competition, with Sunderland being knocked out in the first round for two consecutive seasons.
Phil Parkinson rang the changes for Sunderland’s first round FA Cup tie against Mansfield Town, with only three players keeping their places after Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory against Ipswich Town in League One. Two-thirds of the Sunderland back-three stayed in the side, with Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan retaining their positions. Dion Sanderson joined them in the defensive unit, with Remi Matthews starting the game in between the sticks. Danny Graham partnered Will Grigg up top, with Chris Maguire also keeping his place in attack. Also, Max Power and George Dobson sat alongside each other in midfield, whilst Jack Diamond was given a chance to show his talent in the wing-back role.
First Half Action
Sunderland began the opening first ten minutes promisingly and almost gave themselves an early lead when Danny Graham’s shot from just outside the penalty area struck the left post of the Mansfield goal.
Only moments later, Graham came even closer to giving the Black Cats the one-goal advantage when Callum McFadzean wriggled his way into a crossing position on the left hand side of the penalty area and chipped a ball to the back post and Graham’s header struck the crossbar from around two yards out.
Mansfield weren’t looking to just keep the Black Cats at bay; they tried to create their own opportunities and troubled the Sunderland goal when Malvind Benning’s low-driving shot from around 25 yards out was fired just wide of the right post.
The Stags came closer to an opener when a cross was whipped into the penalty area and found Jordan Bowery, whose volley was arrowed just over the bar from around 12 yards out in the centre of the goal.
Callum McFadzean looked very bright in the opening 45 and almost gave himself his first goal in the red and white of Sunderland, when he turned away from a defender and aimed his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner. The Mansfield goalkeeper managed to finger-tip it away from that destination, and Graham was unable to react quick enough to the rebound.
Despite the opportunities that both sides had, Sunderland and Mansfield ended the first half with the match being goalless and no one being able to break the deadlock.
Half Time - Sunderland AFC 0-0 Mansfield Town FC
Second Half Action
Mansfield provided a threat to the Black Cats in the first half, and installed that into a goal in the opening five minutes of the match. A cross from the right from Kellan Gordon was met by the head of George Lapslie, who rose higher than Dion Sanderson, and nodded the ball into the top right corner.
The home side began to create more chances that would aid their attempts to find an equaliser, and were coming closer when Sanderson’s cross from the right into the penalty area was directed into the gloves of the Mansfield goalkeeper by Will Grigg.
In an attempt to reverse the score-line, Phil Parkinson made two changes just after the hour mark with Elliot Embleton being given a chance for his first match minutes after coming back from a long-term injury, as he replaced Chris Maguire. Also, Charlie Wyke replaced Will Grigg in a straight switch up front.
As the clock ticked down, Sunderland’s desperation to find an equaliser increased and almost found the leveller when Wyke slid the ball through to Jack Diamond, but his right-footed shot from a tight angle struck the side-netting.
Sunderland’s final substitution was made when Aiden O’Brien was introduced into play at the Stadium of Light with Callum McFadzean being replaced.
Substitution, Charlie Wyke, almost put Sunderland level with their opponents when his header from Elliot Embleton’s cross was aimed straight into the mid-drift of the Mansfield goalkeeper.
In injury time, Sunderland weren’t able to muster up another clear-cut opportunity, with the header from George Lapslie meaning that Sunderland’s FA Cup run is now over.
Full Time - Sunderland AFC 0-1 Mansfield Town FC
The emotion that Sunderland fans will be experience after Saturday’s FA Cup 1-0 defeat to Mansfield Town is one that they have already felt this season, but in an inferior way.
Sunderland’s penalty shootout defeat to Hull in the Carabao Cup was filled with regret, but fans knew that League One matters more for the club this season.
Now, the Black Cats’ one-nil defeat to Mansfield Town infused supporters with extreme disappointment and slight embarrassment, being knocked out of the competition by a side that hasn’t won a game since mid-March.
Albeit that run involves the COVID-19 lockdown that halted football and for Mansfield, they hadn’t played for five months, but for some fans, they will be disheartened by the fact that, yet again, Sunderland will not reach the third round stage.
The implications of this defeat could be collateral with the Black Cats losing out on a lot of prize money, which no doubt would have helped them deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the club.
In a football sense, the FA Cup run would have given the side a chance to continue momentum that is created in League One, and potentially produce a cup upset in the coming weeks.
All in all, the Black Cats didn’t increase the tempo and flow of their play until around the half hour mark, and Mansfield looked like the League One side for the most part of the game.
Denver Hume was left out of the side with an injury that may leave him out for a couple of weeks, but Callum McFadzean looks like a worthy replacement for him - providing energy and created plenty of chances for the side.
Danny Graham and Will Grigg were provided a chance to show what they can do against Mansfield, but the closest they came was Graham’s header that struck the bar within the opening ten minutes. Apart from that, they never really got a sniff of proceedings and didn’t really have the scoring touch.
Another opportunity for the players will come again on Tuesday night, but Parkinson may be more likely to choose the more experienced first-team players and creative players from the under-23’s, who have been left out in the cold for a long time.
Fleetwood in the final group game in the Papa John’s Trophy is a dead rubber, with both sides likely to field weakened sides ahead of league matches at the weekend. Parkinson and the players need to bounce back after Saturday’s defeat, with the focus now on whether they will show the character to produce three points to end a positive EFL Trophy group stage.