Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Grimsby Town 1 v Mansfield Town 1 - EFL League 2

Tuesday 26th December 2017
SkyBet EFL League 2
at Blundell Park, Cleethorpes
Grimsby Town (1) 1
Mitchell Rose 10
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Lee Angol 80
Admission £18. Programme £3
Attendance 5,704 inc. 682 in away end
Seeing that it is the season to be jolly, let's break with tradition, just this once, and commence this overview of a bright and breezy day by the east coast with some fascinating trivia, that you can impress/bore* all of your mates with the next time that you're down your local imbibing in a few festive tipples of your chosen poison.
Only five clubs have ever played in the top five divisions of English football. And to clarify which five divisions I am referring too, I mean: the FA Premier League (formerly First Division, formed 1888), the Football League Championship (Second Division, 1892), League One (Third Division, 1958), League Two (Fourth Division, 1958) and the Football Conference (Alliance Premier League, 1979).
Those clubs are, Carlisle United, Oxford United, Luton Town, today's hosts Grimsby Town and earlier this year, Leyton Orient claimed the 'accolade' of being the fifth one to reach this milestone, when they were relegated from League 2 after a 112 year stay in the Football League.
So don't you ever try telling me that Grimsby Town have never been famous for anything, apart from playing in Cleethorpes (not Grimsby) and being one of Mike Bassett (excellently portrayed by Ricky Tomlinson) the fictional England manager's former clubs.
Last season's Mariners v Stags encounter was a lively affair, both on and off the pitch, and in the labyrinth of streets around the ground after the game, on an afternoon when the Mansfield manager, Steve Evans, who isn't exactly popular among the Grimsby faithful (it stems from the time that he was in charge at Boston United), was sent to the main stand for verbally abusing the match officials and was subsequently manhandled by several home supporters while watching the game (which finished three-nil to Grimsby) from his new vantage point. By all accounts it wasn't the first time that Evans had been dismissed from the bench at Blundell Park. He received a verbal rebuke from today's match referee Darren England at one point, but nothing more, in spite the home crowd demanding that he should be thrown to the lions, before having his carcass dumped on the beach for the seagulls to pick at. Incidentally, former Stags player Chris Clements had given the Cleethorpes based club a half time lead in that aforementioned game, and Callum Dyson scored two more goals after the break, the second of which was from a spot kick.
When the two sides last met, back in September of this season, Russel Slade's side limped out of Field Mill after being on the receiving end of a four-one reversal, Lee Angol netted a brace of penalties for the Stags and Krystian Pearce weighed in with two more goals, including one that took a heavy deflection off of Karl Osbourne as it passed James McKeown in the Mariners goal, before Sam Jones netted a consolation for the visitors from the third penalty kick of the afternoon.
Of course, a Mansfield Town side have already won at Blundell Park this term when the Stags U18 side beat Grimsby Town's youngsters one-nil in the FA Youth Cup, when Sam Jackson scored the only goal of the game with a long range shot, after Aiden Walker had won the ball in midfield and teed him up with a forward pass.
Russell Slade's Mariners just about shaded the first half percentages wise, though there wasn't a great deal in it, even though they did go into the break with one goal to the good, after Mitchell Rose had given them a tenth minute lead, pouncing to grab possession when Hayden White had tried to be over elaborate inside his own half, showing too much of the ball to the former Mansfield Town player (isn't that always the way of things), who powered forward, got the rub of the green when Johnny Hunt inadvertently played (M) Rose clean through on goal, as the ball bobbled awkwardly and bounced off of him at an angle, and fell straight back into the path of  the Grimsby number eight, who calmly planted the ball past Conrad Logan from ten yards out.
The Pontoon Stand end of the ground broke into a chorus of "Fatty, fatty, what's the score!?".
Hey! Have a heart you lot, I've got feelings you know.
Oh! My mistake, they were aiming their cruel and heartless abuse at another cholesterolly challenged person down by the touchline.
White and Alex MacDonald fed a regular supply of crosses into the Mariners midriff as the Stags looked to get on level terms off the second ball from Paul Anderson and Danny Rose's flick ons, but the home side were defending well and their keeper, James McKeown was dealing with most things in the air. However McKeown struggled after taking a knock and though he tried to carry on, he had to be replaced in  the thirty third minute and young Ben Killip came on in place of the injured keeper to make his first team debut.
Questions need to be asked about Siriki Dembele, who plays out on the right for the Mariners with the most pertinent enquiry being: how the 'effing hell is this talented individual only plying his trade in League 2? He's far too good for this level of football. Dembele needs to change his barber as a matter of urgency, but he caused chaos and panic in among the Stags ranks whenever he ran at them with the ball at his feet.
Mansfield continued to probe for an equaliser, but Killip soon got up to speed with the pace of the game as his defence continued to frustrate the visitors strike force.
Meanwhile, on the stroke of half time, White conceded a free kick out on the left wing after he tangled with Jamille Matt, Grimsby's big handful of a target man striker.
Luke Summerfield took responsibility for the dead ball and delivered a great knock into the visitors six yard box, that (M) Rose headed wide from close range
HT: Mariners 1 v Stags 0
The first chance of the second half fell to Anderson, but Killip was well placed to get behind his header from Rhys Bennett's cross.
(M) Rose was in the thick of things again, but when he went one against one with Logan from Matt's threaded pass through the Stags defence, the Mansfield keeper won the stand off and the ball bounced back off (M) Rose and went behind for a goal kick. The ex Stags man was still proving to be a thorn in their side when Kane Hemmings came to the rescue with a goal line clearance after Danny Collins header fell to him and a nodded the ball towards the goal from five yards out.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes, Mansfield began to grow in stature and were taking the game to their hosts with the bit between their teeth.
CJ Hamilton picked out Anderson with a dipping cross to the back post, but though his shot had power, it lacked a bit of precision and ended up in the side netting. Danny Rose teed up an opportunity for Hemmings with a glancing flick on, but Killip moved out quickly to get in the way of the resulting shot.
Hamilton broke free on the left and his cross was completely misread by the Mariners right back Ben Davies, who mistimed his block and helped the ball on into the path of Lee Angol, who scored via the left hand upright with his first touch after coming on from the bench just moments earlier. I wonder if the Grimsby fan who shouted: "You like wasting money don't you Evans!?" when Angol was coming on, felt a bit daft now.
Obviously going two goals behind after (M) Rose's strike would have been a real problem for the visitors, who'd had to be patient and keep things tight since Grimsby took the lead in the tenth minute, but they were finishing the game strongly now and the Mariners defence had a let off, when (D) Rose fired over from close range after Anderson's right wing cross sat up abruptly in front of him.
Alfie Potter's angled ball across the face of Killip's goal fell wide of the right hand post and Krystian Pearce was only a few inches away from heading a winning goal for the visitors from MacDonald's delivery. But despite finishing the game and in the ascendancy, Mansfield had to settle for a draw, which as a reflection of the whole game, was probably a fair result.
FT: Grimsby Town 1 v Mansfield Town 1
Elsewhere, Accrington Stanley, Coventry City and Exeter City all lost this afternoon, meaning that the Stags have edged up the table one more place and finished the day in eighth, one point off the play off positions and three points behind third place.
Grimsby now face Accrington Stanley at home on Saturday, before travelling to Crewe Alexandra on New Years Day, while the Stags are on the road at fourth placed Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend before entertaining Carlisle United at home in their first game of 2018. Buckle up and hold on tight!