Craig Priest writes
Fixture: Mansfield Town FC Vs Grimsby Town FC
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #25 [Re-Arranged]
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Tuesday 12th March 2013 – 3.00pm
Match Referee: Graham Horwood (Luton)
Attendance: 3,896 (806)
Another epic night at the One Call Stadium as this title chasing adventure continues to unfold is over and done with, once more it’s one well remember for a long time with a buzzing atmosphere, well contested display and THAT out of this world strike by Adam Chapman, what a signing he looks to be.
The three points, achieved thanks to Chapman’s aforementioned belter and Matt Rhead’s thunderous header, puts Paul Cox’s men up to second in the table, joint top with Wrexham who came from behind at Lincoln to cling onto the top spot with a somewhat desperate grasp. A victory which showed that Stags can not only battle with but beat their rivals also broke a post war club record for consecutive victories, eight back to back wins breaks a record set in 1962 and matched again in 1991 – to those who said Paul Cox wasn’t the right man for the job at the end of the reverse fixture in August and to our rivals who underestimate Stags, read it and weep!
The season isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination and the hard work demonstrated last night and since our up-turn in form needs to be repeated game after game after game, however with Stags now level on form with Wrexham and reports suggesting their beginning to lose their focus, next Tuesday’s game is going to be one hell of a fixture and could be the night a dream becomes one step closer to reality, first though we have to focus on Friday’s trip to Forest Green.
Last night as mentioned was a great night to be a part of, the place bounced from start to finish and the banter was a good as the football – at 0-0 there was a stoppage in play (James Jennings’ head injury) and the visiting fans hurled taunts of the 4-1 defeat at Blundell Park, at which point I looked across the press desk to see a Grimsby journalist shaking his head and say “that’s going to come back and haunt you” – it sure did at the end as the chants of “top of the league and you ****** it up” bellowed back!
Paul Cox was rather humble after the full time whistle, watching his interview this morning it’s interesting to see to that he played down our performance and insist his players can give more and perform better – it’s this grounded attitude which sets us apart from the rest and, if it’s the same within the dressing room, will be the difference to taking the crown or taking part in the lottery. Ten games to go – ten more cup finals... BRING THEM ON!
Paul Cox unsurprisingly stuck with the same starting line up that cruised past Stockport on Saturday but did tweak the bench as he welcomed back Louis Briscoe and Anthony Howell.
Line Up [4-4-1-1] Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Luke Jones, John Dempster, James Jennings, Lindon Meikle, Adam Murray (C), Adam Chapman, Junior Daniel, Lee Stevenson, Matt Green.
Substitutes: Ritchie Sutton, Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright, Anthony Howell, Matt Rhead.
Both sides started well with both sets of supporters providing a vocal backdrop on a chilly March evening. Despite the chilling temperatures the two sides went toe to toe and moved the ball well but seldom did anything with it during the opening exchanges.
With five played Luke Jones sparked the first of two chances for Stags inside a minute as he won the ball on the half way line from former Stags hero Craig Disley. Adam Murray then took over and swept the ball wide for Matt Green, the Stags front man connecting tamely and allowing the Grimsby keeper James McKeown to collect following a give and go with Meikle.
From the resulting goal kick Meikle battled to win the ball back and soon was weaving his way forwards, poking through to Stevenson who then picked out Green on the right – the front man’s driven cross blocked for a throw. Adam Chapman’s long bullet hooked off the line by Shaun Pearson with an air of uncertainty.
Four minutes later the Marrieners found a pocket of space on the right hand side which allowed Ross Hannah to deliver a teasing ball in search of Andy Cook, Lee Beevers nipped in bravely to nod back to Alan Marriott. On twelve minutes Marriott was again tested as a short corner teed up Disley for a long range effort, Marriott well behind the venomous effort and, despite spilling the shot, did enough to put off Hannah who blazed over the bar from four yards as the offside flag went up.
Fluent movement from Stags saw Junior Daniel send in a cross on 15 minutes before seconds later a slip from Jennings gave Hannah opportunity to shoot, the loanee forward denied by Alan Marriott who was quick off his line to narrow the angle.
Marriott was called upon again on 23 minutes as Grimsby broke at a canter following a Stags throw in, the initial shot was again spilt by Marriott who was making his 150th league appearance, however Jennings was on hand to mop up and remove the danger.
Stags continued to ride their luck a little as the half neared the end, Ross Hannah again denied by Marriott on the half hour mark before being felled by Dempster on the stroke of half time saw the visitors awarded a free kick just to the right of the box which Luke Jones dominantly headed clear.
HALF TIME: Stags 0-0 Grimsby
Mansfield upped their pace a gear as the second half began, perhaps buoyed by the news Lincoln were beating Wrexham meaning they were currently top of the division and eager to stay there. On 48 minutes excellent cross park football from Meikle, Chapman and then Murray picked out Daniel who drove forward and shot narrowly wide of the target.
There was danger four minutes later as a free kick from Sam Hatton on the half way line took a deflection towards the bottom corner, Alan Marriott however proved he was still agile and tipped the ball around the post for a corner which was eventually cleared despite prolonged pressure from the attacking visitors.
Grimsby had a golden chance on 53 minutes when Chapman clipped Hannah on the edge of the box, Sam Hatton’s hit though failed to set off any fireworks as it cannoned off the wall before the impressive Murray belted the ball away.
Matt Rhead then replaced Lee Stevenson on 56 as Paul Cox opted to go 4-4-2, Rhead’s impact was impressive as he teed up Meikle and Green for a series of chances before opening the scoring eight minutes later.
It all began when Rhead send Meikle on his way down the right hand side, a move which earned a corner. James Jennings’ delivery was pinpoint for Rhead who rose above the crowd to thunder home a header and subsequently peel off and jump into the crowd to celebrate – simply great scenes to whiteness.
Straight from the restart it was clear that the visitors were deflating like a balloon as Junior Daniel pounced on a poor back-pass, his attempted clip was plucked out of the air by a hastily back tracking McKeown who could only watch on seconds later as Green fired wide, again pouncing on a defensive mistake.
Louis Briscoe then replaced Meikle on 65 minutes and was impressive nine minutes later in earning a corner, unfortunately a repeat of the previous corner wasn’t possible despite huge pressure as Jones was judged to have fouled the keeper.
With seven minutes to go the game was wrapped up as Adam Chapman belted home. Adam Murray sparked the move on the half wide line as he won back the ball before clipped down the left channel for Green. It was he who made the assist nipping past his marker to roll the ball to the edge of the area for whoever wanted it, Adam Chapman arrived from nowhere to smash home on his left boot at the first time of asking – a truly exquisite strike.
A later Grimsby corner had Stags temporary worried before Luke Jones slammed clear, late challenges by Dempster on substitute Richard Brodie and Andy Cook added to the spice of the fixture and ensured Alan Marriott kept a clean sheet. The full time whistle brought the news that Wrexham had turned things around at Lincoln to remain top of the table, not that Stags cared as they entered the record books and sealed another precious three points.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-0 Grimsby
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