Back in July Richard Mansell was told he needed to take a couple of months off due to pericarditis and this weekend saw Mansell experience a high that in the summer would have felt like only a dream – he scored the winner in a local derby to complete a stunning come back from Hardwicke.
After finding themselves 2-1 down to local rivals Quedgeley Wanderers at the break, the game looked done and dusted when the visitors added a third from what was described on Hardwicke’s Twitter as a “sloppy mistake.”
But the hosts made a game of it with 15 minutes to go when Will Matthews pulled one back to make it 3-2 and then after initially a spot kick, added his second to make it 3-3 and Hardwicke looked to have salvaged a point.
Then with 5 minutes to go Hardwicke were awarded another penalty, which Mansell stepped up to take and the midfielder screwed his effort in off the post to complete a great win for his side.
“The emotion shown by the lads after the game shows how satisfying that win was!” Mansell told us after the game.
“We weren’t at our best today, very far from it but still looked like the only side that wanted to play. We felt that all of the goals conceded were from our mistakes. Other than that I think they just had one header which went wide.
I’m 34 next month and can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve scored the winner and when that full time whistle went I felt like a little kid again! That’s what football does and why us old guys keep playing, no matter the age the buzz is always there,” Mansell added.
After stepping up to take the crucial penalty, Mansell admits he didn’t feel any nerves and told us that he backed himself to score.
“I was the penalty taker at Bishops Cleeve for a few years and wherever else I have played I’ll always put my name forward to have one, as I back myself to put it away. Yes I have missed some before and probably will miss some again but I’ve always treated it as just a shot on goal to be honest.
I watched my brother score the winning penalty at Wembley once in front of 47,000 people…now that’s pressure and nerves, not in front of 20 people at county level,” said the Hardwicke man.
Penalty in the last 5 mins sees @manse1986 slot and Hardwicke take all 3 points
Quedgeley 3 pic.twitter.com/7E3Tr7ZQOZ
— Hardwicke AFC (@HardwickeAFC) January 11, 2020
The win sees Hardwicke move up 8th in the County League table and move to within four points of Quedgeley, with three games in hand over their local rivals. The result also sees Hardwicke get revenge for their defeat at Quedgeley earlier in the season and Mansell admitted that it was that defeat which was the turning point for Hardwicke’s season.
“The game earlier in the season was probably the best thing to happen to us really as Chivs [Hardwicke manager Lee Chivers] sat us down and told us all a few home truths, Today was different we were on top for long periods of the game but mistakes we were making were rightful punished.
Today 3-1 down with 15 mins to go you just don’t want the game to drift away. Will Matthews header to make it 3-2 was absolutely outstanding and gave everyone that belief. You could see everyone seemed to grow an extra inch and get quicker by a yard. I fancied us then to be honest!
Chivs told me to sit more when we got it to 3-3 and was even going to take me off as I was really starting to cramp up but I told him I wanted the winner which ironically happened.
A win is a win really, you don’t get extra points for playing well or coming from behind but where it’s important is the morale of the lads and what it can do to it.
We are a strong and together bunch of mates really but to know you have been in this situation and turned it round is massive!” added Mansell.
Hardwicke will be looking to build on their win next week when they head to Henbury in the County League.