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Hinckley miss chance to go second and it’s all change at Mansfield

Hinckley couldn’t take advantage of second-place Stourbridges’ heavy defeat to leaders and champions elect Sale as they suffered a damaging loss to Otley. Meanwhile, Mansfield have changed manager but can’t find a win as they’ve now recorded three 1-1 draws in a row.

Hinckley RFC

Hinckley missed the chance to move into second place in the league after a lackluster display against Otley lead to a disappointing defeat.

The game started well for the Hornets. Within 2 minutes, a typical barn-storming run from captain Alex Salt from his own 22m line was carried on by Mitch Lamb and ended with Callum Dacey going over. Joe Wilson though missed a relatively easy conversion in what proved an omen for the rest of the match.

Otley soon began to impose themselves on the game. The first scrum saw Hinckley pushed off the ball and a penalty award to Otley. Joe Rowntree missed that attempt but was on target a couple of minutes later when Hinckley were again penalised in the scrum.

Hinckley continued to struggle up front. A further scrum penalty award led to Otley kicking for the corner from just inside their own half and a well-executed catch and drive saw flanker Tom O’Donnell break away to cross the line. The conversion was missed but Otley led 5-8 with their pack looking increasingly dominant.

Things did improve. The Amber and Blacks achieved parity for the rest of the game in the scrum, but the battle between Peck and Otley loose-head George Burkinshaw became one of the sub-plots of the game. The referee obviously enjoyed their company, issuing multiple lectures to both men until Burkinshaw was eventually replaced in the second half.

Hinckley almost retook the lead on the half hour when a break from his own 22m by Scott Hamilton almost resulted in a second try for Dacey before he was bundled into touch. Joe Glover actually crossed the line a few minutes later but the referee adjudged a knock-on in the ruck immediately beforehand, and Hornets went in at half-time behind.

Joe Wilson leveled the scores shortly after the break with a penalty from the Otley 22m after a scrum offence, but driving rain destroyed any ambition by either side for much of the half.

It was Otley who broke the deadlock on 65 minutes. A line-out on the Hinckley 22m led to a catch and drive which the Hinckley pack simply could not contain, and O’Donnell went over for his second score of the match. Rowntree converted.

Wilson had an opportunity to close the gap 3 minutes later with a penalty from 40m, but the attempt went wide, and Hornets were left needing a converted try in the closing minutes to share the points.

They almost did it. With just two minutes remaining of regular time, a kick to the corner set up a line-out, and Gaz Turner eventually touched down from a well-worked catch and drive. Wilson’s conversion attempt though went wide to conclude a disappointing day for him. Otley then simply wound down the clock to take the points.

Hinckley must now be considered outsiders in the promotion push, with the sides around them all having a game or two in hand. Hornets do not play next week and so they’ll have a clearer idea of what they need to do when they visit bottom of the table Luctonians on the 24th March.

Mansfield Town FC

It’s been all change at Mansfield Town since our last post with Manager Steve Evans sensationally quitting the club and being named as Peterborough boss less than 24-hours later. The Stags moved quickly themselves and brought in Swindon Manager David Flitcroft as their new manager.

The 44-year-old is appointed alongside new assistant manager Ben Futcher, who also joins the club from Swindon. Flitcroft has already achieved promotion from League Two whilst in charge of Bury, who were languishing in 20th place when he took charge. In addition to Bury and Swindon, Flitcroft also had a stint in the dugout at Championship side Barnsley.

Chairman John Radford and Chief Executive Carolyn Radford were clearly delighted to welcome Flitcroft to the club:

“I’ve got to say a big ‘thank you’ to Swindon for the way that they conducted themselves in all of this. I spoke to their chairman (Lee Power) and we asked for permission to speak to David and he allowed us to do that, then we agreed terms with Swindon,” the chairman said.

“They’re in the play-offs and we’re in the play-offs but we probably have a better squad than Swindon. We didn’t think we’d get him but we managed to convince him to come – it’s a brilliant day for Mansfield.”

“David has a proven track record of success in this division and knows this league well. He has all of the qualities we were looking for and we are greatly looking forward to working with him.

The new managers first two games in charge have both ended in 1-1 draws. In the first, the manager was cruelly denied a first win as Lincoln City scored a 90th-minute equaliser in an entertaining 1-1 draw at One Call Stadium.

After a busy first few days at the club, the new man made just the one change to the side that predecessor Steve Evans selected for the 1-1 draw against Coventry City last time out. Winger Alfie Potter suffered a tweak to his hamstring in training so as a precaution, the in-form wide man was left out with right-back Hayden White coming in. As a result, Paul Anderson moved forward from full-back into midfield.

The first half ended goalless with neither side able to find a breakthrough despite plenty of positive, attacking play. Lincoln probably shaded the opening exchanges with Matt Rhead,  seeing a shot cleared off the line by Stags’ left-back Mal Benning. At the other end, striker Danny Rose and midfield maestro Alex MacDonald both tried their luck for Mansfield but found their range wanting.

It didn’t take long for the second half to produce the opening goal as in the 49th minute, the Stags went ahead. Midfielder Joel Byrom, on as a half-time substitute, headed home his first goal for Mansfield getting on the end of a terrific cross from right-back Hayden White. That looked like it would be the winner but in the last minute of normal time, ex-Stag Ollie Palmer forced a volleyed effort past Conrad Logan to level proceedings. That wasn’t the last of the drama, however, as both Lincoln’s Luke Waterfall and Mansfield’s Rhys Bennett were shown red cards in the last few minutes as both sides ended with ten men.

The Stags then recorded their third successive 1-1 draw against Colchester United at One Call Stadium.

Mansfield were the better of the two teams and took the lead in the 22ndminute when powerful forward Kane Hemmings lofted the ball over Colchester ‘keeper Sam Walker. The visitors were very much in the game and Drey Wright saw a well-struck effort palmed away by ‘keeper Conrad Logan before Kurtis Guthrie saw an effort cleared off the line by energetic left-back Mal Benning.

Colchester came out firing in the second period and they got the equaliser in the 51st minute as Brandon Comley made the most of some time and space to fire past Logan. That proved to be the last of the goals with Mansfield going close to winning it late on when Paul Digby, on as a second-half substitute, saw his header strike the woodwork.