Steve Bateman's side had fought hard throughout to try and match their opponents from three levels higher, but suffered a cruel ending after coming back from conceding a goal just before half time, and indeed had the better of the second half.
The two sides could not be separated after 210 minutes of football, but the history books will show that Mansfield prevailed by a convincing score of 4-1 in a penalty shootout, after Chris Clements, Louis Briscoe and Matt Rhead found the net for the visitors, with Stags keeper Shane Redmond saving from Ollie Burgess and substitute Sean Sonner blazing over, giving another substitute, top scorer Jake Speight, the chance to seal a trip to Lincoln City in Round Two.
The game got underway after a pre-match scare when the floodlights at a packed Holloways Park went out during the warm-up. After a scrappy and somewhat nervy opening few minutes, Stags forward Ben Hutchinson tried to catch James Warrington off his line just a few yards inside the home half, smashing a dipping shot not too far over the angle. Had it been a foot or so lower, it would have put a spectacular dent in Slough’s dreams.
Mansfield’s Louis Briscoe then twice came close as the Stags dominated, first seeing a shot blocked and seconds later another effort took a massive deflection which keeper Warrington did well to block and hold on to the loose ball.
Slough’s first real attack of note came 14 minutes in, with Dominic Rhone flashing a 25 yard half volley well wide of the far post.
Referee Andy D’Urso waved away a Mansfield penalty appeal before Warrington made a hero of himself with a superb treble save – first getting down low to block another wickedly deflected Briscoe shot, before keeping out John Dempster’s close range follow-up header and then punching the ball behind for a corner.
For Slough, Dan Burnell and Ed Smith worked hard to manufacture any kind of openings, with Lee Beevers shutting the door on the former as he tried to wriggle his way through in the Stags box for a shooting chance.
Mansfield kept plugging away, and a great run by Lindon Meikle, probably the visitors’ most dangerous attacking threat on the night with his vision and quick feet, saw him beat four opponents and square to his right for Anthony Howell to dip a shot over the bar from 20 yards. Chris Clements also sliced a shot well wide before Slough had the ball in the Mansfield net through Rhone’s flick from a free-kick, but D’Urso’s whistle had long since blown for offside.
Slough threatened briefly as Dave Woozley found himself in an advanced position on the left, and he sent a dangerous cross in from the left by-line which looped over Redmond but no Slough player had gambled with a run to the far post to meet it.
The home side were dealt a big blow with 35 minutes played as David Deeney, after receiving treatment on his troublesome groin problem, could not continue and was replaced by Adam Logie.
With half-time approaching, Slough must have thought they had done enough to make it to the interval on level terms, but instead Mansfield took the lead in very fortuitous circumstances. Two minutes in to time added on, Rhone failed to clear on the edge of the box, and Beevers lifted the ball back into the danger zone where Exodus Geohaghon jumped with Woozley, appearing to climb all over the Slough captain, and the ball looped over the helpless Warrington off the unfortunate Woozley’s head.
Slough responded magnificently after the break and forced Mansfield to defend, winning a corner on 57 minutes which was easily cleared, but it was clear to see the Stags still carried the greater threat, with Jake Speight introduced in place of Nick Wright. Speight sliced a low shot wide from outside the box as Meikle worked the ball to him.
But Slough’s magic moment came with 66 minutes played. Geohaghon conceded a foul 30 yards out, and Stuart Swift stepped up to crash a shot off the underside of the bar. The ball bounced down and back across goal, and Nathan Bowden-Haase reacted quickest to outmuscle Dempster and head past Shane Redmond from six yards to spark jubilation in the crowd of around 1,600.
The goal breathed new life into the tie and suddenly Mansfield almost found themselves 2-1 behind with Woozley inches away from turning home a corner as he stretched to meet another super delivery from dead-ball specialist Swift. Redmond then had to race out his box to beat Smith to a through ball, the Stags clearly rattled.
Redmond was called into action to claim another corner, and later Logie headed wide as Slough finished the stronger of the two sides. But after winning a succession of late corners, Speight lashed a shot over the bar and Briscoe and Meikle were also wasteful when in good positions.
Slough held on to take the game into extra-time, and again Mansfield twice came close in the first half. Warrington easily claimed a header from Rhead, before an even clearer chance for Speight, who found himself one-on-one with Warrington after Rhead’s flick-on, but the keeper spread himself well with Speight appearing to hesitate.
Burgess was closest for the Rebels, heading wide from Sean Sonner’s cross as they went on a rare break.
The game was a keenly-fought encounter, but tempers flared with 110 minutes played after Mansfield skipper John Dempster complained he had been caught in the face by Bowden-Haase. The Slough centre-back was cautioned along with Geohaghon for dissent, but three minutes later, Dempster dived into a tackle on Burgess to earn a straight red from D’Urso, with Logie also hitting the turf off the ball after appearing to have been hit by Dempster.
With both sides tiring, but particularly Slough after a valiant effort, Speight had a near post effort blocked on the line and headed inches wide at the near post while Howell volleyed a golden chance over from 12 yards after the ball had been headed across to him, as the home side hung on to earn the lottery of the shoot-out.
Clements scored for Mansfield, and Swift followed suit with a cool finish. But then Burgess' effort was saved by Redmond low to his right. Sean Sonner later blazed his kick over the bar at 3-1 down, ultimately leaving Speight to strike the winning kick and give Mansfield the glory. For Slough, it was a case of what might have been, but the cup run has provided a number of memorable moments and manager Steve Bateman will hope this can spur the team on to success in the Evo-Stik Division One Central.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 James Warrington
- 2 Sean Fraser
- 3 Dominic Rhone 18
- 4 Alex Brown
- 5 Nathan Bowden-Haase
- 6 David Woozley
- 7 Ollie Burgess
- 8 David Deeney 16
- 9 Danny Burnell 12
- 10 Edward Smith
- 11 Stuart Swift
Mansfield Town Line up
Shane Redmond, Exodus Geohaghon, Lee Beevers, John Dempster, Ritchie Sutton, Chris Clements, Anthony Howell, Nick Wright (Jake Speight, 57), Louis Briscoe, Ben Hutchinson (Matthew Rhead, 81), Lindon Meikle (Colin Daniel, 106). Subs not used: Stevenson, Thompson, Murray, Hopkins.