Saturday, 5 December 2015

Mansfield Town 1 v Grimsby Town 0 - FLYA

Saturday 5th December 2015 - 11am Kick Off
Football League Youth Alliance (North East)
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth Miners Welfare
Mansfield Town (1) 1
Cameron Healey 14
Grimsby Town (0) 0
Mansfield Town:
Sam Wilson, Teddy Bloor, Louis Danquah, Tom Marriott, Morgan Ratcliffe, Kieran Harrison, Cain Smith, Cameron Healey, Tyler Blake (C), Devante Reittie (Alistair Smith 86), Zayn Hakeem
Unused subs - Frazer Hampson, Charlie Shaw, Joel McClean
Grimsby Town:
Oakley Heath-Drury, Ben Sibbick, Lucas Middleton, Tom Sawyer, Joe Crowther, Cameron Hough, Max Wright, Jamie Phillips (Adam Laws 79), Harry Clifton (C) , Callum Jennings (Joey Finnegan 70)
Unused subs - Jack Pearson, Jack Keeble
A solitary goal, headed home on 14 minutes by Cameron Healey, directly from a Louis Danquah corner, was all that separated the two sides, as John Dempster's young Stags, gained a valuable win and the three points that saw them climb back to the top of the FLYA (North East) table.
At a windswept Kirklington Road, they not only had to beat a very well organised Mariners side, but also had to battle against the elements too, as swirling and blustery gales howled around Rainworth's open and exposed ground.
The weather spoiled the game as a spectacle at times and played a major part in proceedings, often rendering the possibility of an open, entertaining and controlled football match completely inert. 
But fair play to both teams, they at least tried their level best to produce a decent game, as they struggled on with their unenviable task in difficult conditions.
The home side showed their teeth first, when Cameron Healey won the ball in the middle of the park and played it through into the path of Zayn Hakeem, who slipped it in between two defenders to Tyler Blake, but Oakley Heath-Drury came off of his line quickly and blocked the Mansfield captain's effort.
Devante Reittie, back in the starting line up after a twenty minute run out in the away win at Oldham, slipped a measured ball through the right channel to Hakeem, but Heath-Drury tipped the first team fringe player's close range shot over the bar.
Tom Marriott played a defence splitting ball forward to Reittie, who flicked it on first time to Hakeem, but once again the Grimsby keeper came to his side's rescue and charged from his area to clear the ball.
Grimsby ventured forward and from their first attack, Max Wright tested Sam Wilson with a shot from eighteen yards out that moved all over in the wind before dropping wide of the left hand upright.
With the strong wind often giving the game the appearance of a group of youngsters chasing a balloon around in a park, Marriott and Teddy Bloor pushed forward down the right flank and the Mariners defence were forced into conceding a corner.
Louis Danquah, a stand out player today, who looked less fazed than most by the conditions, dropped his flag kick towards Healey on the edge of the box and the rangy midfielder powerfully headed the ball down, beyond Heath Drury's reach and into the back of the net.
Current form would suggest that high flying Mansfield were now well on their way to a comfortable win against the league's bottom team, but Grimsby, to their immense credit, weren't about to subscribe to that theory and in spite of the weather, they began to put a few half decent attacking moves together themselves. Morgan Ratcliffe and Kieran Harrison's mettle was tested in the middle of the defence as the visitors probed, looking for an equaliser.
It's a goal!
Callum Jennings forged an opening but shot straight at Wilson, if such a thing as 'straight' applied today in such a swirling vortex. Harry Clifton tested Wilson, but he saved well... and moments later Clifton knocked the ball into the path of his striking partner Kris Fawcett and the Stags keeper was called into action again.
The cup game at Waltham earlier in the season, when the Stags won on penalties after a 1-1 draw, was a close run thing and today proved to be exactly the same.
Reittie spotted Hakeem making a run, but Heath-Drury had seen him too and cut out the danger before Zayn could get to the through ball.
To illustrate how farcical the elements were at times, Reittie tried to chip the ball over Heath-Drury from twenty five yards out, only to see it hold up in the air and blow back towards him.
Blake, opting to keep the ball on the deck, dribbled his way into the Mariners penalty area, but a crowded defensive manoeuvre saw the visitors clear the ball to the edge of the box, to where another first team hopeful Cain Smith, took control and laid it sideways to Healey who nearly claimed a second goal for himself as Heath Drury gathered the ball just underneath the crossbar.
Grimsby attacked again and from a Max Wright corner, Lucas Middleton knocked the ball just wide of the Mansfield goal.
Cameron Hough, at the heart of the visitors defence, was working his socks off to keep Blake and Reittie at bay and right on the stroke of half time, when Blake and Hakeem combined to set Reittie up, the Grimsby left back Middleton raced across to clear the danger.
HT: Mansfield Town 1 v Grimsby Town 0
Marriott tied up the link between defence and attack well and at the start of the second half he threaded the ball through to Hakeem, but Grimsby sprang an offside trap. A risky tactic when playing into the wind against a pacy front line you would have thought, but the visitors used it to good effect several times over the course of the second half.
Bloor launched a long free kick from out on the right into the Mariners goalmouth, that Harrison knocked back into the path of Cain Smith who hooked his shot wide.
The Stags put together a rare fluent passing move, when Marriott, Blake and Cain Smith combined to lay the ball out wide to Hakeem on the left flank, but when the cross came it was inches away from finding Blake who had continued his run forward.
Max Wright was popping up all over in attack for the Mariners and Wilson did very well to keep a close range header out from the hard working wide man.
Wright almost put Jamie Phillips through on goal with a left wing cross but Ratcliffe was well placed to clear his lines.
Mansfield won a string of free kicks and corners but were making hard work of playing with the never abating strong wind behind their backs and it would be fair to say that it wasn't giving them any kind of advantage whatsoever.
Fawcett picked up a stray pass and advanced on the Stags goal, but Harrison cut out his route to goal and thwarted the visitors centre forward.
Clifton and Wright swapped passes on the edge of the penalty area and once again, Wilson had to put his body in the way. Harrison had to get his foot in again as Fawcett threatened once more.
The Mariners must raise their game when they played against Mansfield, because they certainly didn't look like a bottom of the table side today.
Hakeem knocked the ball out wide to Tom Marriott who outdid Ben Sibbick with a neat 'step-over' before Tom Sawyer halted him with a crunching tackle to concede a corner. Bloor took it quickly but the ball, not for the last time today, sailed harmlessly wide of the goal as the diagonal wing picked up.
Grimsby then enjoyed a spell of forward play, but the hardworking Stags defence were defiantly holding onto their slender advantage; Fawcett played the overlapping Sibbick through on goal but Danquah intercepted the ball and cleared, Clifton swung a cross towards Fawcett but Harrison cleared, Fawcett regained possession and squared a dangerous ball across the face of the Stags goal but Ratcliffe put his foot through it bought his defence some respite.
But the visitors were soon back on the prowl and Fawcett teed up a shot for Clifton who forced another save out of Wilson.
Wilson launched a long ball down the park and Hakeem picked it up and surged down the left flank, but Reittie's shot from Zayn's cross deflected wide for a corner.
Danquah swung a low cross in towards Harrison but Heath-Drury somehow managed to turn the ball around his post. Bloor took the resulting kick, but once again had no luck in keeping the ball on target as the frequent gusts were dictating most of the play now.
As the game ran into stoppage time, most of the players would have been eagerly anticipating the final whistle and the warmth of the dressing room, but fortunately Wilson was still focussing on the game and he pulled off a great close range stop from Wright, before pouncing again to deny Joey Finnegan off the rebound.
Wilson had been the hero in the cup game earlier in the season during the penalty shoot outand today he denied them a point right at the death.
FT: Mansfield Town 1 v Grimsby Town 0
Today the Stags had to show a lot of character to hold on against very determined opponents in dreadful conditions. Sometimes skill and tactical nous wins football matches, but on days like today it takes other qualities, like camaraderie, stamina, hard graft, fortitude and maybe just a dash of luck too.