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Field Mill
Mansfield Town v
Sunday, January 6th 2014, 4pm
FA Cup 3rd Round
  Glynn Jones
(Liverpool fan)

Believe it or not there is a dearth of decent aways in the Premier League nowadays, regular visits to clone-grounds such as the Britannia just don't cut it anymore. And so there a whole bunch of supporters who pine for an away draw in the Cup, and the lower league the opposition the better. And given that this was only our third ever game against Mansfield, and my first, then this was undoubtedly a "must see" fixture.

The journey to Mansfield from Merseyside was pretty straightforward, we avoided the "short" route through the Peak District and just went M62, M1, completing the journey comfortably in under two hours.

Being seasoned drinkers we always like to stay overnight and sample the hospitality that the various towns and cities have to offer. We booked rooms at the Mansfield Travelodge the night the draw was made, we paid 27 per room which we thought was reasonable, but if we'd waited until the week of the fixture we could have had the rooms for 19 each! The Travelodge is a mile or two out of town but a local Private Hire taxi into town would only cost about a fiver, during the day time. A Hackney Black Cab back to the hotel at 2am cost about 9.

The Saturday night in Mansfield town centre was great, some cracking little pubs notably The Oak, The Market Inn, The Swan and the Bowl In Hand was a nice little starting place, especially with it's pool table. If you're younger and are after something a bit more lively than you too won't be disappointed as there are plenty of those types of places. As for match day drinking AVOID the Byron unless you like pubs that are rammed full. Just walk the extra 100 yards to the Swan. Getting to the ground is a 10 minute walk from here, or a 15 minute stroll if you prefer.

On match day I was initially tempted to park on the retail park adjacent to the away end, but if you wanted a reasonably swift get away this would be every inch the bottleneck that it looks. I instead opted to park on a Pay and Display just around the corner, off Peacock St/Garden Rd. 70p per hour and we were out of town in less than 5 minutes.

It's a tidy little ground, with decent leg room for the more "leggy" amongst us. The catering was OKish, I asked for a Balti Pie but after one bite I discovered it was a meat and potato'. I took it back and the fella was really professional, he apologized told me he'd run out of Balti, gave me my money back and said I could keep the meat and potato'. So, not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I ate it. Entry to the ground was easy and the stewarding was very relaxed.

The atmosphere in the ground was a little strange due to there only being stands on three sides, and you couldn't hear the fans behind the far goal at all, so most of the noise was generated by the larger Ian Greaves Stand. As a result most of the chanting was between the away end and the Greaves stand, and it got quite lively at times!

The game itself will be remembered mainly for the Luis Suarez "hand ball" goal, but if anybody cared to view the facts of the matter they would know that the Ref saw the hand ball and deemed it to be accidental. The other goal (the first) was scored by debutant Daniel Sturridge, in a not very pretty game played on a shocker of a pitch. A late Mansfield goal ensured that the ball would be pumped into the Liverpool box at every opportunity. There were a few nerve jangling moments but I never really thought Mansfield would get a second, and so it proved.

In summary - I wish I could go to Mansfield every season.

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