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REPORT | Bulls 2-0 Athersley Recreation

Hugo Warhurst recorded a second penalty save in two games as Matt Chatfield's men returned to winning ways in the NCEL Premier Division against Athersley.

Warhurst turned Thomas Foltyn-Brown's spot-kick around his bottom right-hand post after first-half goals from Phil Buxton and Ross Duggan assembled a comfortable lead.

Red cards for both teams then turned the tie into a ten versus ten contest, but AFC held on to record a crucial win over the bottom-of-the-table side.

AFC controlled the contest from almost the very first minute, holding possession well in the face of a wet and windy Storm Dennis, and they created their first chance with seven minutes gone as top-scorer Ross Duggan blasted over from a tight angle inside the penalty area.

Whilst Athersley's biggest chance of the first half was a 30-yard free-kick, which Ben Walker curled comfortably wide, the hosts were creeping closer to an opener when Phil Buxton's through-ball almost found Duggan but was well guarded by Jack Shepperd for Chris Snaith to collect.

The Bulls could sense a goal was on its way, and they deservedly took the lead when Buxton, on his first game back from suspension, fired past Snaith in clinical fashion from 12 yards after a ball across the penalty area rolled nicely into his path.

The weather then began to tighten its grip on both sides' ability to keep possession, whilst a couple of successive right-handed corners provided Athersley with a rare opportunity but with no result.

With three first-half minutes remaining the league's top scorer netted his 33rd goal in all competitions, as Duggan cut inside past Shepperd and curled beautifully beyond the reach of Snaith into his far bottom corner.

A scrappy period saw set pieces dominate the start of the second half, and the visitors were handed a lifeline when Matt Wilson brought down his man from a free-kick and referee Peter Henger pointed to the spot.

Having saved Niall Doran's penalty in the Tuesday night cup victory over Rossington, Hugo Warhurst once again stepped up to produce some inspirational goalkeeping as he got down low to tip Thomas Foltyn-Brown's spot-kick around the post at his bottom corner.

Emotions continued to run high in what was tipped to be an important event, and such emotions got the better of both sides as AFC's Kian Sketchley was sent off for a supposed stamp whilst Jack Briscoe was shown a second yellow card for the touchline scrap that followed.

Chances were few and far between from thereon in; Ross Duggan had Mansfield's biggest chance of the final stages of the game but could only drive straight at Snaith from just inside the penalty area.

Warhurst was then called into action once again, producing a fine low save to direct a 20-yard curling effort away from danger before he gobbled up Alex Hutchinson's attempt when the forward fired low from an acute angle.

AFC saw out another important three points, with a trip to 13th-placed Silsden up next on the calendar in a week's time.



Final score | AFC Mansfield 2-0 Athersley Recreation

Scorers | Buxton (28'), Duggan (42')

Bulls XI | Warhurst (GK), Slone, Sketchley, Harrison, Wilson, Annable, Ryan (King 79'), Buxton (C), Duggan, James (Walker 86'), Dear (Hough 74')

Unused subs | McMillan, Weatherer, Webster

Yellow cards | Buxton (57'), Wilson (77')

Red cards | Sketchley (72')

Athersley Rec XI | Snaith (GK), Briscoe, Birks (Clements 86'), Miller, Shepperd, Bucknall (C), Purcell, Walker, Foltyn-Brown, O'Brien, Hutchinson

Unused subs | Bates, Kelsey, Berry

Yellow cards | Briscoe (32'), Bucknall (43'), Walker (64')

Red cards | Briscoe (72')

Man of the Match | Hugo Warhurst

Attendance | 56


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