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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:45 12th March 2013
By  Andrew Webb

Resolute Stags defeat Mariners


A magnificent and resolute Mansfield Town earned a dramatic victory over Grimsby Town on an enthralling, nail-biting night in North Nottinghamshire.

Substitute Matt Rhead bulldozed his way to the back-post in order to meet James Jennings’ corner and break the deadlock on 64 minutes.

Loanee midfielder Adam Chapman then doubled the advantage with a sweet, swerving and utterly breath-taking shot which flew past James McKeown.

But the undoubted star of the show was goalkeeper Alan Marriott, who produced a series of impressive saves to foil the Mariners, who dominated for long periods.

Grimsby had the better of the opening few minutes, having all the possession, but failing to work their way past a resolute Mansfield defence.

Instead, it was the hosts who created the first chance on five minutes when Lindon Meikle’s right-wing cross was scuffed into the arms of James McKeown by Matt Green.

The Stags had been sparked into life and recent loan signing Adam Chapman then tested the Mariners’ resolve with two long-throws that he hurled deep into the six-yard box.

Nevertheless, Grimsby still looked lively on the attack and won their first corner when Aswad Thomas’ right-wing cross was knocked wide by Lee Beevers.

From the resulting set-piece, Jamie Devitt’s delivery was worked to Craig Disley on the edge of the area, whose thunderous right-foot strike was spilled by Alan Marriott.

However, with both Ross Hannah and Andy Cook lurking dangerously in the six-yard box, the linesman raised his flag for offside, which brought an end to the danger.

The Mariners appeared the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock and it nearly happened on the quarter-hour mark as Marriott was forced to save Hannah’s low 20-yard drive.

Mansfield were struggling to generate any fluidity and rhythm in their play, though again managed to cause some anxiety for their counterparts a few moments later.

Meikle’s left-sided cross was headed goalwards by Green, with McKeown being forced to scurry across his line in order to palm the ball away.

But Grimsby continued to find themselves on the front foot as the first period progressed, and Tom Naylor, once a hero at One Call Stadium, flashed another effort into Marriott’s arms.

There was a fabulous style in which the Mariners were working the ball around the pitch, with Marcus Marshall and Hannah being chief instigators in the threat they posed.

On 26 minutes, Marshall’s dangerous back-post cross from the right flank almost reached a lurking Cook, with Beevers needing to incept at the last moment.

Chapman’s 35-yard free-kick was diverted wide by Cook at the other end as Mansfield enjoyed a rare foray into the final third close to the half-hour mark.

The Stags should have been awarded a corner on 37 minutes when Ian Miller clearly kicked the ball out of play under a challenge for Green, only for the referee to state otherwise.

Mansfield’s John Dempster and Grimsby’s Sam Hatton were also both cautioned, as scores remained level at the interval following a scrappy few minutes of little goalmouth action.

The visitors opted to replace the experienced Disley with Andi Thanoj ahead of the second half, whilst James Jennings also emerged with a blue head bandage.

The Stags also looked lively in the early moments after the re-start, enjoying much more possession, but they soon had Marriott to thank for keeping the scores level.

Devitt’s routine free-kick bounced inside the six-yard box after it had evaded everyone inside the area, which forced Marriott to make an instinctive, albeit unexpected, save.

From the resulting set-piece, the Mariners came equally close as Devitt whistled a shot across the face of goal, to which Hannah was only inches away from connecting with.

Grimsby began to surge forward at every opportunity and Naylor was soon brought down by Luke Jones on the fringes of the area, after a swashbuckling run through the centre.

Hatton’s subsequent shot was blocked by the Stags’ defensive wall, whilst the sea of bodies also prevented the tricky Devitt from being able to get a clear sight of goal.

Mansfield soon made a tactical change as Stevenson was replaced by bulky powerhouse Rhead, who netted against the Mariners at Blundell Park earlier this term.

Rhead annoyed his markers due to his physical presence and combined beautifully with Meikle on the right channel as the hosts won a corner on 64 minutes.

And it was from the subsequent set-piece that the opener finally arrived.

Jennings swung a sumptuous delivery towards the back-post where Rhead, who had bulldozed his way to meet the ball, saw his thumping header beat a grounded McKeown.

Grimsby were stunned as One Call Stadium erupted into a deafening roar of ‘Yellows’, but with most fans still celebrating, Daniel almost added a second straight from the re-start.

The winger cut inside from the left channel without a marker insight, only to be thwarted by an advancing McKeown, who roared his disapproval to a shaken Mariners back-four.

The Mariners, in fairness, had been lively throughout the night and almost pegged Mansfield back when Naylor slid an effort into Marriott’s arms from a dangerously tight angle.

Devitt soon blazed over when he should have done much better, and with an anxious home crowd preparing themselves for a nervous final quarter, Briscoe replaced Meikle on 72 minutes.

However, Rhead was soon causing more six-yard mayhem, as his presence allowed Green to head goalwards moments later, which forced Aswad Thomas to clear off the line.

Devitt was again denied by Marriott with 15 minutes remaining, before Hannah wildly volleyed over from close-range following Thomas’ pinpoint left-wing cross.

It proved to be Hannah’s last action, as the former Bradford City frontman was replaced by Richard Brodie, who is on loan at Blundell Park from Crawley Town.

Nevertheless, the height of Grimsby’s task soon doubled in incredible circumstances.

Skipper Adam Murray played a delightful ball towards Green, which carved holes in the Mariners defence, before Green used his all strength to hold up play.

Green eventually found Chapman with an exquisite pull-back, who, from fully 25 yards, unleashed a breath-taking and utterly sumptuous shot into the top corner.

Mariners’ hearts had been broken, as an invigorated Mansfield pressed forward in an attempt to extend their advantage even further in the closing minutes.

Grimsby offered little, and when they did attack, they were foiled by a Stags team which contained Anthony Howell, who replaced Green for the final exchanges.

The Stags were roared off by an approving home crowd at the final whistle following a victory, which takes their winning streak to eight league games.

Attendance: 3,896 (806 away supporters).