Mansfield 2s 1 - 2 Coalville 2s
A feisty top-of-the-table clash saw the second-team edge a well-fought contest.
A brilliant display of fight and skill was enough to see off Mansfield's second team, which required everyone to be in top form. Mansfield pushed Coalville all the way, but a few stand-out moments won the game for Town.
Coalville started the brightest as an early Meadows shot was just wide of the target having been fed through by Parkes. A lifted ball over the top by Murby then caused confusion for the goalkeeper on the slow pitch as he was forced to bat it behind for a short corner. The resulting short corner was saved by the goalkeeper following a shot by Dumelow.
Dumelow then saw a deflection fly over the bar, after a hit into the D from Barnett was well met by the striker. Mansfield launched their own attacks through the centre of the pitch that required concentration from the Coalville midfield to follow their men. On a number of occasions they went very direct, picking the ball up high and working a number of opportunities that Tongue was in the way of, or the defence managed to scramble clear.
Hope was then well out to a short corner - which was to be the story of the afternoon - as Mansfield were unable to capitalise. Town's own short corner was similarly denied, as Murby's shot was blocked. A further short corner, however, was hit by Dumelow but deflected off of a Mansfield player. The ball remained in play and was retrieved by Murby, who was setting up for a shot before Lloyd nipped in to finish past the goalkeeper at the near post.
Town continued to press but were soon stung as Mansfield won a free hit in the attacking third. Coalville didn't get out to close down the attacker, and a ball was able to enter the D where a player sat unmarked at the back post, allowing for a simple finish.
It was a scrappy end to the half as neither side was willing to give up an inch. Depsite that, Coalville were playing the better hockey, which was enough to take positives into the second half.
Town again came out the better side, as shots from Symonds and Meadows were turned away, before a scramble in the D thwarted Parkes' attempts. Tongue then had a terrific period in game, saving a number of shots either from short corners or one-on-ones. Having sometimes been a bystander in games gone by, he was able to show his class and concentration when needed most.
The many spectators each side had gathered for support then had to be shifted to the other side of the pitch, which caused a disruption to the play. This was followed by a tough period for Town as Lloyd was first green carded for hitting the ball away as the whistle sounded for a free-hit.
Lloyd returned before it was Parkes' turn to be green carded, having not retreated quickly enough, allowing Mansfield to pile on the pressure. During which time Tongue then performed the moment of the game as a Mansfield striker found himself alone in the D following a square pass. With time and space on his hands he hit a ferocious shot that Tongue was equal to, diving to his left to keep the game level.
Standring and Webster were busy keeping the league's top-scorer quiet, remaining patient with their sticks low to dispossess their opponent. Town were finding it difficult attacking their end of the pitch, as a ball through from Standring to Brotherhood in the D bounced up off some tree debris and went out of play, whilst Dumelow had to remain on the sidelines because of his hamstring.
Parkes returned to the game, but as quick as Coalville were back to full-strength, another green card was dished out to Barnett for remonstrating with the umpire following a short corner given against Murby. Tongue was there again, though, as he came out big to meet another shot. Further short corners were given, but Hope selflessly flung himself at the ball time and time again to stop the threat.
Tireless work from lookalikes Lloyd and Dennett in the middle were able to offset the onslaught from Mansfield, allowing Barnett to return the team to 11 men. After riding the storm, Coalville were able to produce the decisive moment. Murby intercepted the ball high up the pitch to catch the Mansfield defence off-guard. After rounding a defender, Meadows was screaming for the ball in the D. Murby chipped the ball over the final defender's stick to find Meadows in acres, who was calm enough to slap the ball past the despairing 'keeper.
Despite the mass celebrations, Town knew they had to dig deep in the final stages of the game as Mansfield threw everything forward. Further heroic defending from Webster and Hope kept Mansfield at bay, as Coalville launched a number of counter attacks. Barnett and Meadows linked up well down the right-hand side to dwindle down the minutes, before a great through ball from Standring found Murby whose square ball across the face of goal avoided everyone.
Meadows then won a short corner for Town to relieve some pressure, as the Mansfield goalkeeper met Murby's resulting shot to keep them in the game. Mansfield went tit-for-tat as they then won one final chance with a short corner of their own. Again, however, Hope was straight out to meet the strike and keep Coalville in the lead.
Town launched one final attack, but after winning a free-hit in the opposition third, the umpire called an end to the game which allowed for further celebrations. After a tough game all round, Coalville 2s came out the other side battered and bruised but with the win they wanted - a great performance that means that should they go onto beat North Notts in the following fixture, then they will go up as champions.