Jim O'Brien returned to action this evening as we beat AFC Mansfield 3-1 in the fourth round of the Nottinghamshire FA Saturday Senior Cup.
The central midfielder captained the side as he got 45 minutes under his belt during our victory at the Forest Town Arena.
O’Brien went close to marking his return in style when his fine free-kick was excellently turned over the crossbar by home keeper Hugo Warhurst in the third minute.
We didn’t have to wait much longer for the opener, though, which came when Pierce Bird’s ball over the top picked out Kieran Cummings, who applied the finish into the bottom left corner with 11 played.
Shortly after miscuing a chance to double his tally, the youngster did complete his brace – and in almost identical fashion.
Another searching ball from Bird sent him in behind the defence and Cummings beat Warhurst at the second attempt to put us two to the good inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Our hosts halved our advantage with 33 played when Morgan James’ strong challenge on Owen Betts went unpunished, allowing him to square to skipper Phil Buxton to apply the simple finish from 10 yards out.
O’Brien looked to add the impetus as we went about restoring our two-goal cushion and his fine through ball gave Syme Mulvany the chance to square for Tyreace Palmer on the stroke of half-time, but an excellent block meant we went into the break 2-1 up.
The Scot made way for Charlie Wilde at half-time and Bird took the armband.
20 minutes into the second period we could have had a third, but Palmer could only find the side-netting after beating Warhurst to a ball inside the area.
But he did get his name on the scoresheet in the 71st minute, when Alex Howes’ lovely reverse pass found the striker, who clinically finished past the onrushing keeper.
Bucalossi played an extravagant one-two with Cameron Smith before his powerful drive went narrowly over in the final action of the evening as we secured a comfortable win.
Notts: Brooks, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Betts, Bird, Marshall, Cummings (Snedden 78’), O’Brien © (Wilde 46’), Bucalossi, Howes, Mulvany (Smith 78’), Palmer.
Subs not used: Simmons.