I'm looking forward to this afternoon's game as it'll be a pleasant diversion from the tensions of the league. I'm hoping that Parky will give a few of the younger players a run-out, especially Kimpioka and Diamond. The match will have an extra dollop of interest in that Sunderland-born Nigel Clough has just been appointed Mansfield boss. Mansfield are wallowing way down in League Two but we all know that means nothing in the F.A. Cup and with a new manager they're going to be trying their best to cause an upset. I still think we'll be too strong for them and I'd enjoy a good cup-run as long as it didn't get in the way of promotion, which is asking something I know. I'll be watching the game with my bubble and my prediction is a 3-1 win.
When I got the team news, there were numerous changes including the G-Force of Grigg and Graham upfront and new boy MacFadzean. Dan Neil had resurfaced to make the bench.
Mansfield won the first corner of the game in the fourth minute after a nifty move and they were knocking it about quite confidently. We had an attempt a few minutes later when McFadzean put a cross in from the left and a Grigg shot took a deflection or two and hit the left post. Shortly afterwards McFadzean, who was looking impressive, crossed again and Graham somehow headed it upwards so that it hit the bar from a yard out. There wasn't much in it and then we won our first corner in the twentieth minute, followed immediately by another but we couldn't make anything of them. Bowery had a great opportunity to put Mansfield ahead but he skied it from close range, thank God. My fellow-bubblee was going mad about Danny Graham and I had to agree that he doesn't jump much if at all for crosses. We started putting a lot more pressure on around the half-hour mark and I got the feeling Diamond and McFadzean's crosses would eventually pay off but who would get on the end of them? The G-Force didn't look likely candidates. McFadzean had a great run and turn in the box before producing our best effort so far, forcing Stech in goal to make a diving save. It remained goalless at half-time and my 3-1 prediction was looking very unlikely.
Mansfield went at it hammer and tongs from the start of the second period and after McLaughlin had put a good shot in that Mattthews managed to stop, a cross came in from the right and Lapslie jumped to put a powerful header into the net. They kept the pressure up too and won three corners while we were doing nothing at the other end. After ten minutes we started to fight back with Diamond causing them trouble down our right. As the hour-mark approached Mansfield were playing it rough and we needed a sub or two to keep us in the game. Wyke was on the bench and I certainly wanted him on instead of Graham while Leadbitter would help us gain control of midfield. We did make a double substitution in the sixty-five minute with Wyke and Embleton replacing Graham and Maguire. Five minutes later a Diamond shot hit the side-netting and that was a bit more like it. We made our last change bringing on O'Brien for McFadzean, who'd put an impressive shift in. The time was whizzing away and it was looking like extra-time or nothing, more likely nothing as we were posing little threat.
There were four minutes of stoppage-time but we could've had four hours and still not scored. It ended 0-1. This was grim and I wonder if we really wanted to win the game.