Mansfield Town put in a ruthless display at Rainworth Miners Welfare this afternoon as they steamrolled Grimsby Town 5-0 in the Central League.
First half braces from frontman Lee Angol and midfielder Jacob Mellis put Stags in the driving seat before the break, then defender Paul Digby headed home from a corner as the game ebbed towards its conclusion.
Stags’ boss Steve Evans sent an extremely strong side for the contest, which included skipper Zander Diamond, classy midfield duo Jacob Mellis and Joel Byrom, in addition to Deadline Day signings Matt Penney and Ricky Miller.
Conversely, the Mariners fielded a young team for the Rainworth Miners Welfare contest, with only one pro – Sean McAlister – being named in the XI. The rest of the squad was made up of under 18s.
Neither side could get a real foothold in the game in the opening five minutes, as the swirling wind made it difficult to keep possession of the ball.
It was the Stags, however, who registered the first effort on goal in the sixth minute.
Frontman Ricky Miller produced a nice cushioned header to strike partner Lee Angol, who in turn spread the ball wide to winger Matt Penney. The Sheffield Wednesday loanee ran at his full-back, drove into the box but then fired a shot over the bar.
Four minutes later, Grimsby threatened to take the lead as they broke from a Stags’ attack. Striker Rumarn Burrell ran at the Stags’ defence and slot it through to Brandon Buckley, who had his low effort saved by the legs of Bobby Olejnik in the Stags’ goal.
Almost immediately, Stags went up the other end and could have scored the opener. Penney and Miller linked up once more as the latter worked himself space in the box before hitting a powerful effort straight at Grimsby ‘keeper Ollie Battersby.
In the 20th minute, it was Stags who broke the deadlock; and they broke it in style. Artful midfielder Jacob Mellis picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, worked his way past three Grimsby defenders before powering a drive beyond Battersby from 20 yards.
And within a minute, Stags doubled their lead. Right-back Hayden White went on a typically marauding run down the right-hand side and clipped a cross into the middle, where former Peterborough United frontman Lee Angol produced a sublime hooked volley from 10 yards which nestled in the top corner.
Stags were in the driving seat and it wasn’t long before they went 3-0 ahead. In the 24th minute, midfielder Joel Byrom’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with by the Grimsby defence and Angol pounced on the loose ball before expertly firing it under Battersby and into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later, Stags won a free-kick 25 yards from goal and former Bury midfielder Mellis stepped up to try his luck. The former Chelsea youngster whipped it over the wall but marginally wide of the right-hand post as Stags went close to making the scoreline further emphatic.
Almost immediately, striker Ricky Miller was brought down on the edge of the box but he put the resulting free-kick into the middle of the wall.
Stags’ pressure was relentless and with half-an-hour played, the home side should have been four goals to the good. The impressive Penney got in behind the Mariners’ defence and with goalkeeper Battersby creeping closer, the Wednesday loanee attempted to loft the ball over him, but instead helped it into the Grimsby stopper’s arms.
With seven minutes to go before the break, Angol played a nice ball through to the lively Miller and just as the Peterborough loanee was about to pull the trigger he was bundled to the ground, however referee Oliver Mackey waved away Stags’ strong appeals.
Two minutes later, Stags did get a fourth. After defender Paul Digby had a header turned around the post via a smart save from Ollie Battersby, Stags played the resulting corner short to Jacob Mellis and the classy midfielder cut inside and shot towards goal from 25 yards. The flight of the ball made it awkward for Battersby as it bounced up in front of him and found the back of the net to round off a dominant first half performance by Mansfield Town.
Stags began the second half much like they ended the first – on the front foot and pushing to extend their lead.
The front pairing of Ricky Miller and Lee Angol were combining well and in the 50th minute, Miller rolled it into Angol’s feet but the two-goal man just delayed his return pass and Miller strayed offside.
A minute later, Byrom took a quick free-kick down the line to Miller, who drove to the byline before clipping a cross into the middle which was drifting into the goal before an intervention from Battersby, who palmed it over the bar.
In the second phase of play from the resulting corner, Digby headed it back into the danger zone where Miller and Angol both swung a foot at it, but the Grimsby ‘keeper kept it out.
As the game reached the 58th minute, Grimsby had a rare shot on goal as Slater beat the offside trap and pulled it back to Declan Slater, who blazed a shot over the bar from 12 yards.
Ten minutes later, a confrontation occurred between Lee Angol and Grimsby centre-half Jack Keeble. The pair tangled in the centre-circle and as they fell to the ground, Angol pulled him by the neck and after a small melee, the Stags’ man received a yellow card.
As the game moved into the final 20 minutes, the affair became quite scrappy with the wind making it increasingly difficult to play football.
In the 78th minute, Stags almost scored what would have been a superb goal. After playing a short corner, Byrom clipped a lovely reverse ball to Hayden White and he arrowed a volleyed cross to the back post where a flying Zander Diamond headed past the post.
With ten minutes remaining, Stags made a triple change with youngsters Alistair Smith, Jason Law and Jordan Graham replacing goalscorers Angol and Mellis, as well as the impressive Penney.
Then after 82 minutes, Stags had a fifth. The hard-working Miller picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and played a superb ball to Sterling-James, who won a corner.
The winger crossed the ball in from the corner and the imposing Paul Digby headed home from eight yards out to finish a superb day for the Stags.
STAGS’ XI: Olejnik, White, Diamond ©, Digby, Hunt, Mellis (Smith 80), Byrom, Sterling-James, Penney (Law 80), Angol (Graham 80), Miller
SUBS NOT USED: Wilson, Gibbens
GRIMSBY XI: Battersby, McMillan, Saunders, McAllister, Keeble, Jameson, Paul-Jones (Poynter 56), Sawyer, Burrell, Buckley, Slater (Richardson 69)
SUBS NOT USED: Curran, Powles
REFEREE: Oliver Mackey