Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Mansfield Town (FA Cup Round Two) 26.11.22
Having reached the Third Round of the FA Cup in each of the last two seasons, and four times in the past decade, Nigel Clough’s Stags slipped up when at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon, falling to a late brace from Owls substitute, Michael Smith, League One outfit, Sheffield Wednesday, claiming a 2-1 win.
Geordie-born Smith, who began his career at the famed Wallsend Boys Club, in Newcastle, came on for Malik Wilks in the 64 minute, and fired home a quick-fire double in the closing stages to send the Owls through.
Clough’s side though, they’ll be ruing missed chances, having taken an interval lead, through George Lapslie, just after the half hour mark; Luke Akins’ first time shot, from a Hewitt run and cut-back, comes to nothing, whilst Hiram Boateng sends one over moments later.
The Owls would then see Marvin Johnson’s effort, from the edge of the box, is saved well by Christy Pym, as both sides continued to have chances, Wednesday’s Malik Wilks seeing a left-footed effort blocked just before the half hour.
Minutes later, and the Stags would open the scoring after left-footed, curling cross from Kellan Gordon finds the running Lapslie who fires home on the volley, from close range, the half finishing with efforts from Stephen Quinn (Mansfield) and Callum Paterson (Wednesday).
The second half began in much the same vein, both sides going for it, Quinn being sent down the left following a quick throw from Will Swan, Quinn then finds Lapslie whose first-time effort goes over, whilst the Owls’ Lee Gregory also sees a headed effort go narrowly wide.
Following a number of changes by the hosts, the Stags again failed to extend their lead, George Maris having played in Boateng but the result goes begging, the Owls capitalising minutes later when Smith, on for Wilks, equalised; a cross from Marvin Johnson finds the Geordie, and he fires past Pym and into the bottom right corner.
With the hosts now in the ascendency, and the Stags having missed numerous chances, very little passed before the League One side found themselves in-front, Smith again with the goal, five minutes later, and again from a Johnson assist, this time firing home what proved the winner, from six yards.
After the hosts were, brilliantly from Hewitt, denied a third, Lapslie would be seen to volley over with seven left on the clock, the visitors hunting what would have been a deserved equaliser, Maris doing the same when deep into stoppage time.
For the Owls, it was a late show that sent them through, the Stags, maybe a case of too many missed chances with Stags boss, Nigel Clough, telling BBC Sport afterwards: “We had lots of chances in the first half which we didn’t finish well enough. We created the chances and we just needed someone on the end of them.
“We have to score more if we’re not going to defend as well as we should do. I thought we’d at least take them back to our place but we just weren’t quite good enough in both penalty areas.
“There are lots of positives to take from the performance, we’ve been as good as a side at the top of League One. We showed so much heart and spirit.
“I hope the fans are proud. Like us, they will be scratching their heads as to how we’re not in the hat.”
Now though, it’s a case of dusting themselves off and getting a promotion push back on-track, at home to third-bottom Colchester United on Saturday 3 December (the Stags travel to Merseyside, and Everton’s U23s in the EFL Trophy on Wednesday night).
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Hunt (Iorfa 64), Ihiekwe (McGuinness 89), Palmer, Johnson, Wilks (Smith 64), Vaulks, Dele-Bashiru, Mighten, Paterson, Gregory (Bannan 72).
Mansfield Town: Pym, Gordon (Wallace 90), Hawkins, Harbottle (Perch 80), Hewitt, Maris, Quinn, Boateng, Lapslie, Swan (Oates 80), Akins.
Venue: Hillsborough (13,932)
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Kellan Gordon in action against Alex Mighten.