Craig Priest writes…
The funny thing about Christmas is, we always buy boxes of chocolates and over purchase food which no matter how hard we try, we can't finish. Once again Mansfield Town followed that lead and headed back home with a point – one which should have been three.
Yet again the majority of the performance was below par, with Siriki Dembele running riot and causing no end of problems for Johnny Hunt. Hayden White too looked well off the boil and completely cost us the first goal, trying to take on the world rather than smash away the danger.
I'm not surprised in the slightest that he was subbed at half time for Bennett, who somehow found himself dropped from the starting line-up. White has long been a liability with his ridiculous wonders and late challenges, that was highlighted no end, how he made it to half time I will never no.
On the bright side, we eventually turned up and started to play thanks to a system change from a 4-4-2 where we looked rigid and got nowhere, to a 3-4-1-2 which gave us fluidity and space to exploit. It's no coincidence that within two minutes of that alteration, we scored and thereafter looked cast iron to win the game.
I'd question why we didn't change things up before we did, but there's no room for ifs and buts at this stage of the season, it’s simply a case of lets go again at Wycombe and try to go into 2017 with as much momentum as possible.
Grimsby is never a good hunting ground for Mansfield Town FC, we’ve certainly seen worse displays there from the ghost of Mansfield past, so all in all, a point is a good one – there’s now just one more game until the transfer window opens, I’d expect movement and I think they’ll be a surprise or two with who goes out – whatever the movement, we must hit the ground running because if I were the Radfords after such investment, I’d be looking at the league table, looking at the performances of some of the players and thinking – have we made the wrong choice?
Time will tell.
Steve Evans made four changes to the side which somehow beat Morecambe, including the reintroduction of Pearce and Hunt to the back four and once again changing the midfield with Butcher and Anderson coming in.
Both sides enjoyed half openings during the early exchanges, but neither looked like grabbing the opener until the hosts capitalised on an awful mistake from Hayden White ten minutes in. The right back initially did well to win the ball but then rather than release play, decided to go on a mazy run, promptly losing the ball allowing Grimsby to run through everyone, former Stag Mitchell Rose got the final touch, converting beyond Logan to haunt his former employees.
The Stags then had two chances to level in as many minutes as Pearce fired wide from a White cross on 13 minutes before MacDonald delivered for Diamond, who again failed to beat the keeper, heading straight into his arms.
Danny Rose fired over from 12 yards from Anderson’s chip before the hosts were forced to change keepers, the excellent James McKeown replaced on 33 minutes through injury. However the Stags failed to test his replacement Ben Killip who watched on as the hosts nearly grabbed a second down the other end on the stroke of half time, Danny Rose the man to spare the Stags blushes – heading away Summerfield’s excellent ball in.
Rhys Bennett replaced Hayden white at the break but it was the hosts who continued to pressure, Sam Jones stabbing a guilt edge chance wide on 51 minutes as Diamond and Pearce got caught in a tizz.
Three minutes later Bennett showed his class at the other end as he delivered a testing cross which Anderson nodded wide of the target, before Anderson again fired wide – this time from Hamilton’s cross from the left on 57 minutes.
Kane Hemmings then headed one off the line as Grimsby searched for a second on 76 minutes, he was then replaced by Angol on 78 minutes who two minutes later, with practically his first touch, pulled the Stags level.
Two minutes later Anderson delivered for Rose who nearly stole the game, but much to his own frustration – lofted the ball over the bar. Substitute Alfie Potter and Krystain Pearce both had chances to grab the winner, but time was against the Stags who since the introduction of Potter & Angol had gone 3-4-1-2 and looked good with it.
FULL TIME: Grimsby 1-1 Stags
Hayden White (Rhys Bennett HT) – Krystain Pearce – Zander Diamond © - Johnny Hunt (Alfie Potter 77)
Paul Anderson – Jacob Mellis – Alex MacDonald – CJ Hamilton
Kane Hemmings (Lee Angol 78) – Danny Rose
Unused Substitiutes Bobby Oljenik, Will Atkinson, Jimmy Spencer, Calum Butcher
Referee Darren England Assistants Matthew McGrath & Mark Jones Fourth Official Ken Haycock
Attendance 5,704 (682)
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