Mansfield Town 3 Guiseley 0: Red-card day not red-letter day for the Lions
Unfortunately, several of his Lions players sadly lost their heads and were guilty of letting the occasion get to them.
Dismissals for two players – defenders Darren Holden and Chris M’Boungou – were silly, needless and inexcusable with the Lions forced to play the final 39 minutes with nine men as the red mist descended.
There was, at least, one Yorkshireman who had reason to smile with Leeds lad Jimmy Spencer scoring the first hat-trick of his professional career on a day to savour for him.
But this was not a noteworthy afternoon for Guiseley and after making history by reaching the second round for the first time, there was no encore or need to file another entry into the record books.
After an arduous afternoon, Cox, whose side have now received four dismissals in their past five matches, said: “ We came into the game with a great following and never got to grips with the game from the start.
“It was disappointing that we did not apply ourselves right in the first half.
“In going down to 10 and then nine men, you are chasing the game and it is damage limitation.
“What we tried to get across to the lads was us starting the game and imposing ourselves on it. We never really got started and I have no qualms with the result.
“Although, sometimes, referees should have a five-minute think about decisions.
“I found some of the decisions strange, but it had no bearing on our performance in the first 25 to 30 minutes of the first half.”
On the dismissal of Holden, he added: “I actually said it was more clumsy and I thought that Darren slipped.
“I will have to look at it again and see if it was as dangerous as everyone was making out.
“From then on it was an uphill task and obviously we lost Chris and I think it was a second booking, I have got to be honest.
“It was damage limitation then. Although I thought we paid for the first 20 to 25 minutes.”
It was very much one-way traffic at the One Call Stadium from the off and if Guiseley’s task was stiff enough, it became positively Herculean following the dismissal of Holden five minutes before the break.
The full-back could have no complaints following a reckless over-the-top challenge on Spencer in a fiery half where tensions were high on both benches.
Thankfully, Guiseley possessed a cool head in goal in the shape of Jonny Maxted, who carried on from where he left off in the first-round replay at Accrington by showcasing his agility in another outstanding display, more especially in the first period.
He was powerless to keep out Spencer’s opener on 31 minutes, a classic centre-forward’s header following excellent wing play by Paul Anderson, but excelled himself both before and after that to ensure that the Lions were not dead and buried come the interval.
After Guiseley survived an early scare when M’Boungou’s clumsy-looking challenge in the box on Danny Rose was not penalised, Maxted came to the fore.
He turned away Alex MacDonald’s smart free-kick before making a terrific save to deny Anderson and then appeared to get a faint touch to a point-blank header from Rhys Bennett, which struck the near post.
The pressure finally told when Spencer – without a goal this season going into the game – put the hosts in front and Cox’s side faced a mountain to climb when Holden saw red.
Maxted made a fine scrambling save to keep out an effort from Spencer shortly before the break, no doubt mindful that he would, in all likelihood, have to repeat his exploits on the restart to somehow keep the Lions in the tie.
Hopes of that were extinguished when M’Boungou received his marching orders for two bookable offences, just as he had in the first-round replay at Accrington.
But this time, there was no happy ending for Guiseley.
Soon after, Spencer clinically fired home from close range after good wingplay by the lively CJ Hamilton to settle the tie effectively.
A rare Guiseley foray forward saw Alex MacDonald clear Jake Lawlor’s header off the line before play switched to the other end and Spencer sealed his treble, converting from the spot after substitute Danny Lowe was penalised for a shirt-tug on him.
It looked like being a long final 25 minutes for the Lions, but mercifully there was no further damage in terms of the score.
Hamilton went close with an effort which hit a post and substitute Alfie Potter was a whisker away with a low drive before time was called on an eminently forgettable return to Mansfield for Cox.
Mansfield Town: Logan; White, Diamond, Bennett, Hunt; Anderson (Potter 69), Atkinson, MacDonald (Butcher 73), Hamilton; Spencer (Sterling-James 87), Rose. Unused substitutes: Olejnik, Digby, Pearce, Mellis.
Guiseley: Maxted; Brown, Palmer, M’Boungou, Holden; Hughes (Hurst 45), Lawlor, Lenighan, Molyneux (Purver 55); Odejayi (Lowe 43), Fondop-Talom. Unused substitutes: Green, Correira, McFadzean, Haworth.
Referee: C Boyeson (East Yorkshire).