Shrewsbury Town are through to the coveted third round of the FA Cup despite playing the majority of the second half with ten men.
Ollie Norburn was handed a straight red card on the hour mark, and Shrewsbury would have been fearing the worse.
However, the resurgent Josh Laurent continued his free-scoring run with his third in two matches. And deep into added time, substitute Brad Walker scored just the second FA Cup goal of his career to book Town’s place in Monday’s draw.
Sam Ricketts made three changes from the side that lost 4-3 against Bristol Rovers last weekend. Max O’Leary, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, and Fejiri Okenabirhie, replaced Joe Murphy, Omar Beckles, and Louis Thompson. Sean Goss and Dan Udoh returned to the bench following their recent injury struggles.
Town began the contest brightly. Dave Edwards attempted to connect to Donald Love’s accurate delivery, but the Welshman couldn’t make a telling connection.
At the other end, League Two Mansfield were creating opportunities of their own. CJ Hamilton’s electric pace and subsequent cross was not capitalised on by either Nicky Maynard or Jacob Mellis in the box.
Then Maynard, a former West Ham and Bristol City striker, saw his effort comfortably gathered by Max O’Leary.
But it was the home side who were given a wonderful early chance to break the deadlock. An intricately worked corner found Dave Edwards, who guided the ball across the face of goal. Aaron Pierre diverted goalward, but ex Leicester keeper Conrad Logan made a tremendous stop to keep the score 0-0.
The visitors are enduring a dreadful run of form, which has seen the Stags pick up just one victory in their previous eight games. However, John Dempster’s side were threatening, particularly on the break. Jacob Mellis’ delightful pass found Andy Cook, but the former Walsall man directed his header into the arms of Max O’Leary.
Shrewsbury had the final chance of an even first period. Donald Love was sent down the flank thanks to an excellent Ollie Norburn free-kick. The former Manchester United defender’s low cross just evaded the attentions of Jason Cummings.
Town continued to probe in the early stages of the second half. Fejiri Okenabirhie elected to shoot rather than thread Cummings in. The ex Dagenham man blasted straight at Conrad Logan.
Mansfield were very much up for the cup, and continued to pressurise Shrewsbury’s backline. Nicky Maynard drilled a cross into the box for the open Andy Cook. He looked odds on to score from close range, but mis-hit his shot, and Ro Shaun-Williams arrived on the scene to clear the danger.
A real let off for Shrewsbury, but they were left reeling moments later. Ollie Norburn was sent off for clattering Jacob Mellis, and the midfielder walked without much protestations.
Mansfield’s numerical advantage did not appear to unsettle the home side. Josh Laurent wondered into the penalty area and looped a header over the crossbar.
Then Grenada international Aaron Pierre found the advancing Donald Love. The full-back should have scored, but instead he fired wide
However, Town could not be denied with two minutes of normal time remaining. Josh Laurent turned possession over to Dan Udoh. The former AFC Telford striker’s shot was deflected and fortuitously found the advancing Laurent who applied the finish from six yards out.
And passage to the third round was sealed in the 95th minute. Dan Udoh’s impressive cameo performance was capped with an assist. He spun his marker and glided forward before teeing up Brad Walker. The ex Hartlepool man calmly slotted beyond Conrad Logan.
Shrewsbury will be eagerly anticipating the third-round draw on Monday, with Premier League and Championship sides entering the competition. They will be looking for their EFL Trophy adventure to continue on Tuesday night when they welcome Manchester City’s U21’s. Mansfield visit their league rivals Port Vale.
Attendance: 3,678 (465 away fans)
Team Line Ups:
Shrewsbury Town: (3-4-3)
25. O’Leary, 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 2. Pierre, 17. Love, 8. Norburn, 28. Laurent, 3. Golbourne, 4. Edwards (86), 35. Cummings (62), 10. Okenabirhie (86)
Subs: 1. Murphy, 6. Beckles, 11. Giles, 14. John-Lewis, 15. Walker (86), 22. Goss (62), 23. Udoh (86)
Subs Not Used: 1. Murphy, 6. Beckles, 11. Giles, 14. John-Lewis
Mansfield Town: (3-5-2)
1. Logan, 17. Sweeney, 5. Pearce (80), 4. Preston, 8. Mellis, 22. Hamilton, 30. Smith (80), 15. Shaughnessy, 20. Gordon, 11. Maynard (89), 19. Cook
Subs: 3.Benning (80), 6. Bishop, 7. MacDonald, 10. Khan (89), 12. Olejnik, 24. Sterling-James (80), 28, Knowles
Subs Not Used: 6. Bishop, 7. MacDonald, 12. Olejnik, 28. Knowles
Other FA Cup Round 2 Results:
(at the time of writing)
Maldon and Tiptree 0 – 1 Newport
Cheltenham 1 – 3 Port Vale
Forest Green 2 – 2 Carlisle
Kingstonian 0 – 2 AFC Fylde
Oldham 0 – 1 Burton
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Altrincham
Walsall 0 – 1 Oxford