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Mansfield 3 Grimsby 0
By: Rik Bushell
GRIMSBY Town made a couple of changes for the visit to Mansfield, namely Isaiah Rankin in for the suspended Gary Jones and John McDermott coming in for Tom Newey, who took a knock at Peterborough, with Gary Croft switching to the left.
Town lined up with the 4-3-3 system that started off so well at Peterborough and were looking to continue with the fine passing and movement they had shown at London Road. The starting line-up was as follows: Barnes, McDermott, Fenton, Butler and Croft made up the back five, Toner, Ravenhill and Boshell the mid three with James, Rankin and Bore up front.
The omen's weren't good for Town however with them not having recorded a win at Field Mill since their sole one way back in the 1955/56 season! Their was also the recent curse of former player's bagging against us to contend with as Michael Boulding lined up in attack for The Stags.
Mansfield soon carved a chance early on after a poor pass by Butler let Mansfield on the offensive and that man Boulding let rip only to see his shot deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner Fenton was able to clear and was fouled relieving some early pressure.
Five minutes into the game and Barnes showed good alertness to come rushing out his goal mouth to sweep up for his defenders before Boshell had a foray forward a minute later but had his run snuffed out.
Once again former Town hero Boulding caused problems after he beat Fenton to a ball down the line, cut inside him and flashed a rasping shot across the goal and just wide of the post. Soon after another ball into Town's box was headed down by Boulding but Town managed to clear. Another ball down the line found Boulding again, he centred it and the shot was deflected for a corner. Barnes rushed off his line for the in-swinger and got his fists to it.
There was then more concerted pressure by Mansfield with Butler clearing for another corner on the eighth minute. From the corner a soft effort was cleared off the line by McDermott with the second attempt headed over.
Grimsby seemed to be second to every ball and after another ball in was cleared Boulding tried his luck but couldn't get enough on his header.
Town finally started to get a hold of the game soon after however, with good move instigated by Boshell switching the play right to left wasted by Croft who couldn't control properly. On 11 minutes Toner whipped in a dangerous looking free-kick but Fenton's resulting header flashed just wide.
Soon after Butler won the ball in defence, Ravenhill passed to Rankin who played Toner in but the shot was deflected for a corner. From the corner the shot was hit wide.
Peter Bore made a good run down the left on 13 minutes but it ended up fizzling out with a poor cross.
Soon after a ball over the top sent Boulding clear of the last man but luckily the linesmen was having none of it and flagged for offside.
On 14 minutes James battled well down the right and won a throw. From the throw-in the ball was played about well, switched right to left by Boshell but Toner's cross in was too close to the keeper.
A great tackle by Boshell put Town on the attack, he played in Toner who had his shot saved.
Soon after Butler won the ball with a strong challenge and Town carved out a good chance with some neat inter-play between Rankin, Toner and Ravenhill with the latter's shot firing over. A couple of minutes later a poor pass let in Bore but he was stopped in his tracks by the Mansfield rearguard.
A poor cross-field pass by Fenton allowed The Stags to attack and put a cross in but Fenton redeemed himself with a clearance and play was stopped after Mansfield hand-balled.
A long ball down the left by Town had Rankin in a good position but he failed to control the ball and the chance went begging. Then Bore played in Rankin down the left again, he cut inside and pulled the trigger but the attempt was blocked.
Boulding was clear on goal once again on 21 minutes after the ball was flicked past Fenton but once again Town blushes were saved as the linesman flagged.
Fenton put the ball in row Z after some Mansfield pressure down the right and after some neat work following the throw in, Mansfield got the ball in to Boulding who headed over.
Again Boulding was played in down the left soon after but this time Fenton dispelled the attack with a crunching tackle.
On 26 minutes a shot on the edge of the area was blocked by Croft with Barnes coming out and sweeping up well on the edge of his area. Mansfield were attacking again soon after however and a neat back-heel on the edge of the area gave the opportunity to shoot but The Stags man fired well over.
What looked to be a poor challenge on Boshell went unpunished by the referee to the anger of the 135 Town fan's. However Town were forward next when Bore picked up the ball and nearly sent Rankin through but the pass was blocked. Then Mansfield went up the other end down the left and after squaring the ball to the right the ball was headed behind for a corner.
The corner was swung into the six-yard area and with no Mansfield challenge the ball hit BOSHELL then Butler's mid-rift before ricocheting into the back of the Town net. There seemed to be confusion amongst the Town player's as Boshell, Butler and Barnes argued over who should have cleared the ball with Butler saying Barnes should have caught it.
A good move by Town saw them again switching the play from left to right with Ravenhill, James, Toner and Croft all involved before Rankin was tackled in the box.
After a ball through the centre, Mansfield had the ball on the edge of the box and played in Boulding on the left who again flashed a dangerous shot wide of the far post.
On 42 minutes Mansfield were again put through, this time down the right but Barnes did well to save before the late offside flag.
Half time came and although Town had played some neat stuff across the park it always seemed as though the final telling ball lacked that bit of quality.
Half time: 0-1
Danny North came on for Bore at the half-time interval and immediately made a nuisance of himself getting stuck in to the Mansfield defender's but often with little reward.
A poor clearance by Town let Mansfield have a pop at goal but fortunately the effort was poor and flew over. Up the other end a Croft long-ball had North battling again but to no avail.
The Town defence were caught napping soon after and Barnes had to pull off a good save after the centre-back's had looked a bit too static.
North created a half-chance down the right but the chance was lost when James misunderstood the pass. Another Town foray saw Rankin having a run at their back four but again he lost the ball. It was clear to see this was his first game back after a long lay-off.
Town were creating chances however and after a long ball, James hit it outside to North, who passed to McDermott with Macca slinging in a cross that was deflected. Ravenhill got a hold of it, cut inside but hit a soft shot at the keeper.
There was a great chance for James to open his Grimsby account on 55 minutes, but his diving header from Croft's run and cross went just the wrong side of the far post.
A Rankin ball out wide to James saw him rain in another cross but it was headed out for a corner. Town played the corner short to Boshell but his shot was saved.
Mansfield were back on the attack next however with the attacker beating his man on the by-line and flashing in a dangerous fast ball but it was adjudged to have gone out.
Another long ball by Croft saw the ball headed down to Rankin by North but his long range effort fizzed wide.
On 68 minutes Graham Rodger decided to change things around with young Nick Hegarty coming on for James, James had gone down because of a foul a little earlier so perhaps it was a precautionary measure.
Once again Town's approach play was good with North still causing a nuisance but time and again they lacked the final killer ball and their efforts were being blocked.
Hegarty was booked soon after coming on for complaining to the linesman when the ball had just gone out. Then Barnes had to be on his toes soon after and produced a good save from a long distance Mansfield effort.
Town went up the other end and had the ball in the net through Rankin after a Mansfield clearance bounced kindly to him off Ravenhill but the linesman flagged and it was ruled out.
Gary Harkins came on for the injured Croft on 72 minutes with Toner dropping back to the left-back position. Straight away Harkins was in hot water with the referee and received a booking for throwing the ball away.
Fenton and Harkins managed to get themselves in a mix down the right letting in Mansfield for a shot but the effort was easily saved. Soon after Harkins played in Rankin on the edge of the box but again Rankin lost possession.
McDermott, Ravenhill and Boshell combined well but the shot was blocked with the ball bouncing up to North but he was seen to foul going for the header. Up the other end Barnes again did well to save a shot down to his right.
Disaster struck in the 78th minute as Chris Beardsley sprung the offside trap to rifle home at the far post with Fenton desperately trying to recover.
Afterwards Barnes again had to sweep up, flying out to the edge of his area and heading the ball clear to nullify another Mansfield chance.
On 81 minutes Boshell, Hegarty, Rankin and Harkins did well with Harkins crossing in but Hegarty's effort went wide.
There was absolutely no way back on 84 minutes however as Butler and Toner left the ball for each other in the box and Beardsley took the gift and slotted home with Barnes in no man's land. An obvious lack of communication there amongst the Town rearguard.
Town had a few more attempts at creating something but as per the rest of the game it fizzled out into nothing.
So once again Saturday's result seems like a flash in the pan as Town return to their losing ways. Let's hope that old adage "Now we can concentrate on the league" rings true and Town can re-create the passion shown at Peterborough, starting on Saturday against MK Dons.
My MOM: Did consider Boshell and Toner for their passing play but for me it had to be Phil Barnes. He had to be on his toes a few times to rush out and sweep up Town's problems and also made some fine stops. May have to take some of the blame for the last goal but without him Mansfield could have scored many more.
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