For a large portion of the game between South Normanton Athletic and AFC Mansfield in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup on Saturday, August 15, it looked as though AFC’s first ever appearance in the famous cup competition may be followed by another one after they had dominated their Derbyshire hosts for much of the first half.
But, after both sides had been reduced to 10 men following a scuffle that involved almost every outfield player, and which resulted in Athletic’s ‘keeper and a Mansfield player (I’m not sure whom I’m afraid) being shown red cards for exchanging punches and general unpleasantries, the game began to swing in the home side’s favour.
After the break, as myself and my companion, Mr Mark Bunting, watched the game with a pint in the sunshine in the patio area just outside of the club house, Kane Jellyman put the home side in front with a relatively easy tap in.
It was all too much for one AFC supporter; a female who was reprimanded for swearing by a bloke behind me whom I believe to be a member of Athletic’s board who then instructed her, jokingly I might add, to “Get back in the kitchen”. Much banter ensued, with the bloke who may or may not have been involved with the club seemingly coming out of the closet and announcing “I’m gay!” in response to accusations from the same lady that he is hopeless in the bedroom! Top bantz.
Anyway, back to the footy, and AFC equalised shortly after the banter with some comedy value of their own. From our vantage point it wasn’t exactly clear what happened but it appeared that a Mansfield player hit the bar with the goal at his mercy – remember, Athletic were playing with an outfield player as their keeper as no substitute keeper was named on the bench. What at first looked like a huge let-off for the stand-in stopper was in fact a mere extension to his time without conceding, because as the ball failed to be cleared, AFC equalised in some style as their man delightfully volleyed home.
With a replay on fans’ minds, Athletic stepped up a gear and it was no surprise when Shane Newton cut in from the left and drifted a right-footed ball over Jason White in the Mansfield goal for a classy winner.
So with that, in-keeping with the rules of this quest, we stay with the victors, South Normanton Athletic, and we’ll be back at Lees Lane on August 29 when pre-determined visitors Lincoln United (not City) are the visitors. I’m quite glad. The burgers are good (“proper footy burger”, enthused Mark), you can have a beer whilst watching the game and you never know, it might be my turn to win the half time prize draw this time. Mark won it last week, the Jammy git.