For whom the bell rings! FA Cup misery for Stags

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I was so confident we would turn over Forest Green Rovers last night that I had already bookmarked my Good Beer Guide on the Bath section.

Looking down the list, it brought back memories of a great night out around some cracking pubs when we were down there to face Team Bath last time and I had already started to look forward to a pint of Bellringer!

But this wonderful game of ours has a habit of kicking you into the teeth and, boy, is my jaw aching this morning!

Forest Green had played some decent stuff in both games with Stags so far and recent reports on them stated they had not been getting what they deserved and were better than their league position suggested.

Sadly they chose last night to produce the victory their form had threatened against a Mansfield side that seemed frankly complacent in the first 45 minutes.

On a miserable damp, cold night, it seemed both fans and players thought they only needed to turn up to book that date at Bath.

There was a lack of atmosphere on the terraces and a lack of spark on the pitch.

To be fair Stags didn’t start off that badly and had Jake Speight scored that first minute chance it might have been a very different night.

But that early promise soon faded fast as Rovers began to give us a footballing lesson with crisp first touch passing as they walked through our midfield as if it didn’t exist.

They could have been two or three up at half time and had the game secured.

Thankfully Louis Briscoe’s introduction ignited us and he played like we all know he can and how he will have to continue playing to keep Craig Dobson on the sidelines.

I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to extra-time and penalties but it would have been better than the agony of how we went out in stoppage time.

What a scrappy goal to lose by! Whether it was Conal Platt or Paul Heckingbottom who got the final touch is immaterial. If I was Hecks I would be very happy to let Platt claim it, to be honest.

David Holdsworth always looks to take positives out of every game and I think he can now use this one as an example to hold up to his players every time we play a ‘lesser light’ and point out what can happen.

I certainly think it will be enough to gee us up to two excellent displays against Eastbourne and Luton and, with measure of luck every side needs, I think we can win both.

The only other positive from last night is that we won’t have to drive all the way down to Ebbsfleet on a Tuesday night if it had been postponed due to extended FA Cup involvement.

But they don’t sell Bellringer in Ebbsfleet!

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