Sky Bet League Two, Sunday 26th December 2021
Script writers put so much effort into the Christmas day specials of soaps, the REAL drama is in Boxing Day football though – case in point? Mansfield Town 3, Hartlepool United 2 – Unbelievable Jeff!
The Stags found themselves two goals down from just two Hartlepool shots despite utter dominance in the first half and it looked like their excellent run would be coming to an abrupt end.
John-Joe O’Toole then sparked a remarkable turnaround of three goals in eleven second half minutes, as Jordan Bowery and then George Maris made like Santa Claus and delivered!
Mansfield were without several key players, Danny Johnson and Ollie Clarke were both on the treatment table still, and pesky Covid wiped out the midfield with Stephen Quinn, George Lapslie, Harry Charsley all falling to the dreaded red line, defender Richard Nartey and goalkeeper George Shelvey were also forced into isolation – leaving the Stags with just five subs.
Thick boxing day fog and horrendous rain also threatened the fixture, the fog especially was a killer and there was only one visible part of the pitch from my seat, which made commentary interesting to say the least!!
Hartlepool equalised in the 91st minute, denied by the offside flag – a huge call by the assistant on the far side who I presume had some view of it!!! After the game, whilst interviewing John-Joe O’Toole, Hartlepool manager Graeme Lee after finishing his Sky Sports interview, passed us and proceeded to shout “IT WAS A GOAL” – He was not a happy man!
O’Toole was incredible again, I asked him after the game about his future – for me we have to bend over backwards to get him what he wants, he’s been critical in our U-turn in our form and would be a massive loss, like a sledgehammer to a nut, if we were to lose him now.
I’d love to see us continue our excellent form and go again on Wednesday at Harrogate – but honestly, if one more player gets the dreaded red line, we’re done for – I don’t see it being on at all, probably the same for Rochdale too sadly.
Either way, three more points in the bag and just a point from the play-offs, a remarkable achievement when you consider how poor we were two months or so ago! Long may it continue!
COME ON YOU STAGS!
STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins ©, McLaughlin, Maris (Sinclair 80), O’Toole, Stirk, Bowery, Oates (Gale 77), Law Unused Subs: Stech, Burke, Ward
Attendance: 5,958 (1,010)
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