Stags Reach Last 16 To Face Port Vale

Mansfield Town 2-2 Peterborough United *3-1 pens (EFL Cup Round Three) 26.09.23

Mansfield Town came through a tough League Cup tie against Peterborough United to earn themselves a draw at home to Port Vale in late October.

Nigel Clough made five changes to the side that started against Barrow in the EFL League Two on Saturday night, to stun League One Peterborough at the One Call Stadium, on Tuesday night, in an exhilarating, exciting encounter.

Jordan Bowery, Calum Macdonald, Ollie Clarke, Davis Keillor-Dunn and Lucas Akins all dropped to the bench, but all had a say in the outcome of a League Cup tie that was, very much so from a Stags perspective, decided by penalties.

Will Swan opened the evening’s goal-scoring proceedings with a spot-kick after five minutes, Lucas Akins equalised in stoppage time with another from twelve yards, before the hosts reached the fourth round for only the second time in their history (last being the 1975-76 season), by winning on penalties as ‘keeper Christy Pym came up trumps with a brace of saves.

Clough’s charges raced into an early lead when, in the opening five minutes, striker Will Swan was brought down in the box and referee Seb Stockbridge pointed to the spot, Swan dusting himself off and calmly dispatching past Nicholas Bilokapic for an early lead – it was his first goal of the season.

Ephron Mason-Clark came close to levelling proceedings before the twenty minute mark however, his low strike was saved well by Pym, who tips it round the post, following a great ball from Hector Kyprianou; Jones meanwhile saw a side-footed volley, from a Kwame Poku cross, also denied at the last.

Posh’s Johnson Clarke-Harris then scored twice for the League One visitors, his first on the half hour being a free-kick which eluded former Peterborough player, Christy Pym, from distance after it took a bounce right in front of him; Clarke-Johnson then added his second within minutes of the restart after a quick break on the flank was followed up and slotted home from close range.

Shortly after Posh took the lead, a corner from Harrison Burrows was met by the head of Peter Kioso, however that came back off the crossbar and the follow-up from Archie Collins was blocked by the Stags defence; Clarke-Harris then curled an effort wide before firing a free-kick wide of goal.

The hosts had several chances afterwards in which to equalise in what was an open, end-to-end encounter, Calum Macdonald heading over Bilokapic’s bar when perhaps easier to score, then Akins, on Swan with half an hour remaining, saw a goal disallowed for offside.

Then came the equaliser, with the game having already gone into stoppage time, a little, goal-mouth scramble saw two Stags go down under pressure and again, Stockbridge pointed to the spot, this time Akins making no mistake from twelve, sending the  visiting ‘keeper the wrong way and slotting home his fourth of season.

And so to penalties, as the excitement and drama continued for the near 4,500 crowd; Lucas Akins and Jordan Bowery both scored their penalties whilst Christy Pym again proved the hero when he saved from both Johnson Clarke-Harris, and Ronnie Edwards, the Stags taking a two-goal advantage.

Aden Flint then hit the post, and Bilokapic saved from Ollie Clarke, Ephron Mason-Clarke netting for Posh in-between to afford a glimmer of hope; that glimmer though was quickly snuffed out as Josh Knight then saw his effort hit Pym’s upright, and Davis Keillor-Dunn stepped up to send the home fans into raptures with a successful third, Stags progressing 3-1 on penalties.

It was to be a second successive shoot-out victory for Clough’s charges and the, understandably delighted Stags boss told BBC Radio Nottingham after the game: “The game swung unbelievably.

“To get an early goal and everything and then we couldn’t get the ball.

“They were very, very good on the ball at times and the pace of the front three of four was a major step up from what we are used to in League Two and it caused us problems.

“It was a case of hanging in there.

“The game doesn’t always stay the same for the 100 minutes or whatever, you will always have spells.

“And I thought the last twenty minutes it was magnificent.

“You always get one chance in that last five or ten minutes.

“There wasn’t a question mark about either penalty, not one Peterborough player argue, and we converted both of them.

“That’s 12 matches unbeaten playing against a League One side and a Championship side as well.

“Coming up is our biggest week of the season.”

The win saw the Stags stretch their unbeaten start to the season to a dozen matches (won five, drawn seven, two shoot-outs) as they now turn their attention back to the league, and Gillingham away on Saturday (30 September) afternoon.

Stags: Christy Pym, George Williams (Davis Keillor-Dunn 75), Aden Flint, Lewis Brunt, Baily Cargill (Calum Macdonald 61), Hiram Boateng, Louis Reed (Jordan Bowery, 45), George Maris (Ollie Clarke 60), Aaron Lewis, James Gale, Will Swan (Lucas Akins 61).

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Lucas Akins nets a last minute penalty to level the tie.

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