AFC Carve Out a Diamond Result at Coalville

AFC Mansfield pulled off another FA Cup shock on Saturday (September 17) as they beat Coalville Town on their own patch, despite the home side being two levels higher then AFC on the non-league pyramid.

That pyramid seemingly means nothing to plucky AFC, who beat another side two levels above them in the last round in the form of Stratford Town.

This 2nd Qualifying Round took time to get going. A tepid first half saw little chances, with both sides cancelling each other out.

But after the break the tie exploded, and things boiled over. Coalville’s Liam Walshe was sent off for kicking out at an AFC player having seemingly been stamped on. There was no caution for the AFC player, much to the annoyance of the home bench.

Annoyance turned to frustration for Town as they dominated play but could not find the net, the post denying them their best opportunity.

As the game became an end-to-end blood and guts cup tie, AFC’s Gary Bradshaw escaped the defence and latched onto a looped ball before finishing neatly on the volley.

Knowing that a major giant killing was on the cards, even at this level, the bench exploded in jubilation. It was stark contrast to Town’s bench as they looked on bemused as a second Town man, Danny Jenno, received his marching orders for having words with the ref.

With only 9 men, Town pushed for an equaliser. Five minutes of added time was announced but despite balls pinging into the box and keeper and captain Sean Bowles coming close to getting a touch to a knock down from a corner, AFC held firm until the final whistle.

Again players and coaching staff – and a small band of travelling supporters – were ecstatic. They’d done it again.

They’re will have been dancing in the streets of Forest Town on Saturday night, and rightly so.

  • AFC host Stamford AFC of the Northern premier League in the 3rd Qualifying Round next month.

The Ground

When the small Leicestershire village of Ravenstone could no longer handle a successful and ever-growing football club, something had to be done.

The decision was to relocate Ravenstone Miners Athletic to Coalville in 1995, and the club adopted the new name of Coalville FC and Owen Street became their new home.

The ground is accessed by a dusty dirt track, and there’s a decent sized car park for those driving. For those relying on public transport, well Coalville is not the easiest place to visit. A train to Loughborough and a bus ride is your best bet.

The ground is accessed by just two turnstiles. More than enough considering the average attendances are one of lowest in their league (the Evo-Stik Premier Division by the way).

The turnstiles open out onto a spacious area with the club shop (cabin) to your left and what appears to be a storage cabin to your right. Inside there was a CTFC drum. But that’s where it stayed on my visit. Continue right and you pass the snack hut which serves the usual fodder for very reasonable prices plus faggots, not something you see every week on a footy club’s menu.

Further on is Jack’s Bar, a second floor bar with a pool table in the centre – making space tight – and two TVs showing Sky Sports.

Go past that and you get to the ‘coffee shop’, a tin cabin with further snacks and warm drinks. Next to this is a lively stand packed with home fans.

You’re able to walk the whole way around the ground, passing another stand on the far side of the pitch. Behind the east goal is another lively little stand; behind the west stand is woodland. Netting prevents balls getting lost in the greenery.

It’s a quaint, well set out ground with a lot of character and made for an enjoyable afternoon.

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The team sheet

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Jack’s Bar

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Things begin to get a little spicy…

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AFC celebrate a fine victory

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See above

 

 

AFC Upset Stratford in Poetic Style

AFC Mansfield sniffed some non-league giant killing in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round at the Forest Town Arena on Saturday, September 3.

AFC, who only formed in 2012 and are embarking on only their second FA Cup adventure, hosted Stratford Town, who play in the Southern League, two steps above them on the non-league ladder. And it was they who took control of the first half, wasting a hat full of chances and being denied by AFC keeper Jason White and the woodwork.

However, in AFC number 10 Gary Bradshaw, they have a player with vision and ability, and he very nearly caught out Town keeper Niall Cooper with an audacious 30-yard raked lob which Cooper just about managed to keep out with a goal line clearance. His relief was palpable.

And it was Bradshaw who put the hosts ahead in the second half with a cool finish after being put through one-on-one with Cooper. It wasn’t against the run of play either, as AFC made a fist of it after the break.

It was met by total hysteria from the bench, but it was lucky for AFC that this goal was allowed at all. It came after a truly bizarre incident. The referee pulled up with an injury, much to the amusement of the crowd as you can imagine. But amusement turned to bemusement as the ref could not continue his officiating duties and had to ‘come off’. The problem was, no 4th official. This prompted an appeal to the crowd as to whether any refs were in attendance, first from AFC boss Rudy Funk (great name) and then again over the PA. But no joy. There was no one qualified to ref the game.

With the game now in doubt, serious discussions were going ahead on the touch line as the crowd could only ponder as to what was going on. After 10 minutes of deliberating, it was decided that the linesman would become the ref and a Stratford sub the linesman. Controversial perhaps. It certainly raised eyebrows amongst the AFC contingent, and questions as to our new man’s integrity may well have come into play had anything controversial happened.

But alas, we could finish the game. And what a game. Stratford levelled through a thumping Guy Clark header from a corner. Nothing controversial there. But if Stratford thought they could turn this game around they were wrong.

From a Town attack, the ball was cleared to Oli Fearon on the left flank. He picked the ball up well inside his own half and just ran, using his power and pace to barge past soft Stratford challenges. Then, suddenly, he was in on goal. Surely not. Surely AFC couldn’t win it in impeccable style could they? But they could, and they did. Fearon’s industrious run was finished with a sublime slot past Cooper and the Forest Town Arena erupted again.

It was an incredible goal that, by rights, should be replayed over and over again, but you’ll be hard pushed to find even a grainy You Tube clip of it, sadly.

AFC hung on for a famous victory. Fearon’s excellent goal proving the difference in a brilliant game of football played in wet conditions. They now go to Coalville in the second qualifying round and who knows how far this little club can go.
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The line-ups

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Reffing hell: “Is there a ref in the house?”

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AFC celebrate Bradshaw’s opener

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Scenes at the final whistle as AFC beat Stratford 2-1

Warning: I’m Havin’ a Rant

image.jpegI’ve supported Nottingham Forest since my dad took me to games in the 1980s. Season ticket holder at the age of 16, regular at the City Ground for much of the 90s; followed them home and away a lot back then. Season ticket holder again from 2007 until 2011. I was once proud to wear the shirt, write with a pen, dangle a car air freshener, carry a hold all, drink from a cup etc etc, all embossed with the famous Forest badge on them. I even have a Forest bath duck! Although my 3-year-old makes use of that these days.

But I – like many other fans who have expressed their anger on Social Media this week – am struggling to lend my support to a football club that is run by a despot owner in the form of Fawaz al Hasawi.

His lies, deceit, undermining of the team’s manager, coupled with the business acumen of a clown, is crippling the club and infuriating fans young and old. This transfer window he first assured manager Phillipe Montanair that none of the club’s best players would be sold. Good news, we thought. A few new additions and all would be good Trent side. Then, on Sunday, completely out of the blue, came a hammer blow. Fawaz – not the manager – had orchestrated the sale of one of the club’s most promising young talents in years, Oliver Burke.

Burke was described by his own team mate Thomas Lam as ‘the next Gareth Bale’, and although the Welshman’s boots are big ones to fill, the comparisons are firmly in place. Power, pace, composure, confidence, control, touch and an eye for goal – all attributes Bale has in spades.

Burke’s four goals this season have been pure class. He’s a precocious talent who we could have built the team around. It sounds odd saying that about a 19-year-old but it’s certainly not bluster. Fans loved him and he loved the fans. You could tell. But within the blink of an eye he was sold to some big spending German side from Leipzig, sponsored by Red Bull.

£13m is a lot of money, but Burke, to many, was priceless. The player himself has spoken of his surprise at Forest, sorry, Fawaz, accepting an offer to sell him. The fact that the player didn’t want to go, and the fact Fawaz had gone back on his promise not to sell our prize assets together with his blatant disregard of the club’s manager by going over his head for a pot of cash, to me, showed the true reason for the deal: money.

I could have coped had he gone to, say, Man U, and been loaned back to us, as was the rumour; I could understand us holding on to him until January and then allowing him to leave perhaps with a greater price tag, but I cannot cope with deceit.

Fawaz, under immense pressure from baying fans angry that their prized asset was gone in such a callous  way, told us the money would be reinvested into the squad. It was not. Not even an indent was made as three players joined, two no one has heard of, for well under £1m. I’ll reserve judgement on those players until I see them on the park, and none of this is their fault, or the fault of the manager who must be wondering what’s next from his balmy chairman. Fawaz saw £££ and went for it.

Tomorrow, I shall be following AFC Mansfield as part of my FA Cup Quest. It’s an international break anyway so no Forest to worry or get angry over, but even had they been playing my full attention would have been on the Cup as it’s increasingly hard to support them at the moment. One man does not make a team, as the old adage goes, and of course you should support your team no matter what. But bloody hell does that pillock make it hard work to lend your support.

It’s Non League Day tomorrow, and quite frankly I would rather watch non league football every week than ‘my team’ while that fiscally-motivated excuse of a chairman is in charge of Forest. There is a protest planned for our next home game. We want our Forest back. Brian Clough will be turning in his grave. No way would he have stood for this. Why should us fans?

Tomorrow’s game between AFC and Stratford Town will give me something else to focus on; something to enjoy. I need that this week.