MASSIAH McDonald had the Reynolds Stadium rocking when he struck a stoppage time winner to give Matlock a well deserved win over their Blue Square Conference Premier neighbours in the FA Trophy replay on Tuesday night.
Matlock like playing Mansfield in cup competitions. Remember 1976 anyone? While this one was not as clear cut as their FA Cup triumph at Field Mill, in the scheme of things it was up there on merit.
The Gladiators found it difficult to match the Stags’ direct style in the opening half hour.
But once their free flowing football, which earned them a replay, returned the home support felt another shock on the cards, particularly after the visitors had midfielder Gareth Roberts sent for an early bath 13 minutes from time.
Mansfield made a number of changes to freshen up their line up, but still fielded a side worthy of Conference Premier standard.
They took the game to the hosts who fielded the 11 who finished Saturday’s 1-1 draw.
Matlock had to defend a succession of high balls into their box, being forced to concede a number of corners. But goalkeeper Jon Kennedy’s handling was immaculate in spite of a painful bang in the kidneys early on.
The visitors drew first blood after 20 minutes when Phil Roe caught Roberts with a mistimed challenge and from the free kick Colin Daniel rifled an unstoppable low 22-yard effort into the corner of the net.
Lewis McMahon curled a shot a yard wide within two minutes as Matlock sought a response but the 29th minute would prove to be crucial to both sides’ asprirations.
For once Paul Cox’s side played some neat football opening Matlock up but a breathtaking fingertip save from Kennedy to push Jake Speight’s shot over the bar kept the Gladiators in contention.
McMahon looked to be pushed in the box but Bolton referee Darren Handley aggressively waved away penalty appeals.
Matlock were on fire after their half time refreshment and were level inside five minutes. As was the case when McMahon scored on Saturday, McDonald was the provider, holding off John Thompson with his strike partner pushing home his pass from three yards.
From the Stags viewpoint it was a sloppy goal to concede and one from which they never recovered. Roberts then tripped McDonald and was off to add to their woes.
James Ashmore had a low shot scrape past the outside of a post, Adam Yates thumped a header against the bar and Bradley Grayson’s fierce drive crashed off a post with Shane Redmond helpless before McDonald took centre stage.
Chasing a ball down the centre he left Exodus Geohagan for dead before burying his shot past Redmond a minute into stoppage time.
Mark Atkins and Nick Buxton joined the players for a celebratory group hug on the pitch before the Matlock heroes were cheered off by their ecstatic fans.
Mansfield could have no complaints, quite simply the better side in both games had won.
MATLOCK: Kennedy, Harcourt, Roe, Cotton (Leesley 87), Yates, Lukic, Grayson (Foster 90+2), Ashmore, McDonald, McMahon, Davies.
Subs not used: Dennis, Laight, Buxton.
Referee: D Handley (Bolton).
Star man: Adam Yates.