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The Return of the Prodigal Son
By: Robert Salt
FORMER Town hero Michael Bolding returned to Blundell Park tonight for the visit of Mansfield. Having retired for a year, Boulding came back to try and haunt the Mariners, but had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw.
Town lined up with new loan signing Martin McIntosh alongside skipper Justin Whittle, with Ben Futcher dropping to the bench. Peter Bore also started with Gary Hawkins also on the bench. However there was no starting place for wantaway striker Michael Reddy, not even on the subs bench.
Rankin started up front along side Gary Jones with Peter Bore wide right.
Town started very brightly, defending the Pontoon End, with Mansfield not really creating or looking likely to cause the Mariners any harm. However Mansfield did have a long range effort early on which was spilled by the Town 'keeper but was knocked away to safety. Shortly afterwards good work down the left found Rankin who jinked inside the box and looked to have created a good chance for himself only to knock it wide for Bore, but Mansfield managed to clear.
The next chance again fell to Town and Rankin once more was involved. A good ball from the right found Rankin who managed to cleverly knock the ball down into the path of Bolland, only for the 'keeper to claim the ball a second before Bolland could shoot.
Mansfield, who had begun slowly started to get into the match and from a cross from the left into the box found a Mansfield player unmarked only to head wide when it should have been at least on target.
Townâ€™s best creative play seemed to coming from the left and in particular Beagrie and Newey both linking well with Beagrie putting some very good crosses in from the left. However no Town players were able to get on the end of them.
The biggest cheer of night came just before half time when a Town attack was cleared powerfully by a Mansfield defender only to hit the referee on the side of the head and knock him down. He was very quickly though got up and saw the funny side to it.
Both teams came out with no changes. However it was Mansfield who started the brighter for the first 15 mins of the second half and it was no surprise when they took the lead. A ball in from the right was flicked on in the box by a Mansfield player who found Hamshaw, who in turn controlled it, thought about what he was going to do, turned, thought about it again, and placed it low into the corner before any Town defender could react.
Seconds afterwards Mansfield had scored again, however this time it was quite correctly ruled out for offside.
This seemed to wake Town up and from then onwards there only seemed to be one team in it. Newey and Beagrie again seemed to be linking well and Rankin looked lively up front. However town had to be wary of the counter attack and Barnes spilled another shot only for Town to clear to safety.
A good move again between Beagrie and Newey put a town player through on the left however the Mansfield keeper came rushing out and blocked with his legs.
However an equaliser did come, a cross from the left was headed powerfully in off the underside of the bar by Peter Bore, and after a few seconds of was it or not over the line the ref signalled for a deserved equaliser.
Town pressed for the winner and in the final 10 minutes put Ben Futcher up front, replacing the ineffective Gary Jones.
However Town could have lost it with the final kick of the ball, but a mixture of good defending and poor finishing by Mansfield meant the points were shared.
Beagrie showed some class control and some decent crosses, Rankin was lively up front but Martin McIntosh was solid in defence and could have capped his debut with a goal.
MOM: Martin McIntosh
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