A visit to Forest Town Arena was intriguing to see an EvoStik League East Division game between AFC Mansfield and Sheffield FC.
Sheffield FC recognised as the oldest club in the world (dating back to 1857) taking on the Leagues newest side(formed in 2012). AFC Mansfield were formed by three directors of Mansfield Town who were in dispute with the Management of that club and have since risen very quickly from start up, through the Central Midland League, North East Counties League to where they are today.
The League game was arranged because both clubs have been knocked out of the FA Trophy and follows the reverse fixture at Sheffield the previous week which ‘The Club’ won 2-0. Sheffield are just below the play off positions while Mansfield are in the danger zone to be relegated. AFC Mansfield have been busy in the transfer market recently and included in their team two new loan signings from Northampton Town Sean Whaler and Giuseppe Iaciofano.
The mist had just lifted as I arrived giving way to grey skies with a weak watery autumn sun trying to break through. Being early I went for a coffee in the Forest Town Community Centre just in time to see the final 15 minutes of the Rotherham v Sheffield United derby with Rotherham scoring a much deserved equaliser at the death ,
The Forest town Arena is set below the Community centre and Car Park and is a bowl with a cycle track round the edge that looks to have had little use of late. The pitch was flat but the surface looked a bit bumpy due to tufty grass.
There was one small covered stand for officials, seating with no roof, some terracing and a veranda from the Community Centre. The crowd of 101 mostly sat in the uncovered area or on the veranda. The two pounds program had a brilliant history of Sheffield and profiles of the home teams players, statistics on the league, comment on the non league scene and notes by the chairman and Manager. All in all a very good read especially with the team sheet of the day that was fully updated.
AFC Mansfield 2 Sheffield FC 3
The game started evenly with both sides using long throws to the penalty area as an early ploy and Mansfield’s Iaciofano had a headed goal disallowed for a foul on the Goalkeeper after only 4 minutes following a corner,
Sheffield however started to boss the game and on 43 minutes it was no surprise when Sheffield’s Marc Newsham headed home at the far post after good work from no.9 Mitchel Dunne who was continually putting pressure on Mansfield’s defence down the left.
After 51 minutes the same combination combined to give Newsham the chance to tap home Sheffield’s second and a third was soon added (65 minutes) when James Gregory was put through and he smashed the ball passed the helpless Jason White.
The Dunne, Newsham, duo nearly added another after Dunne completely out foxed the Mansfield defence only for Newsham’s shot to go wide.
Almost immediately Mansfield attacked and the substitute Dear crossed for Iaciofano to head in. Only two minutes later on 85 minutes Grant Ryan ran through and chipped it over the advancing goalkeeper to make it 2-3. Despite further efforts Sheffield saw out the rest of the game for what ended a fortunate win despite being in charge for long periods of the game.
Mansfield could take heart in the showing of their new signings and they should pull away from the relegation area in the next few weeks. The outstanding player for me was Mansfield’s centre back Jordan Annable who has come through their junior ranks, I would expect him to be playing at a higher level very soon.
Unfortunately Mansfield didn’t do well in the chip league either with a score of only 45, they were the end of a batch, soggy, warm and the oil had a rather burnt taste.