It’s around this time of year that parent’s dash frantically round the shops searching for presents for the children, top of the list always seems to be a superhero action figure as the film ‘Jingle All The Way’ perfectly demonstrates! This year, parents around Mansfield can forget your Action Man, Buzz Light-year, Superman etc – after last night’s goalless draw at Blundell Park, there’s only one superhero action figure the Mansfield public demands, step forward – SUPER MAZ!
With the pink goalkeepers top in tow, it would be easy to call our shot stopper the ‘pink one from power-rangers’ however Mazza demonstrates skill, agility and heroic status way above your average power-ranger, thus deserving of his own unique title, sadly I’m far too tired to think up a proper superhero name or release a mini action figure in time for the Christmas rush, so that part I’ll leave to your imagination!
Anyway aside for you ‘KAPOWW’s’ ‘BANG’ ‘CRASH’ type moves, I shall move swiftly onto the real story – our trip to the seaside on a truly freezing December evening. Paul Cox was forced into one change as Aman Verma failed to shake off illness, Paul Bolland replaced him with Marcus Kelly moving onto the bench (his squad number for those interested is #33).
Ritchie Sutton – John Thompson – John Dempster – Kieron Freeman
Adam Murray (C) – Paul Bolland (Verma)
Ross Dyer – Lee Stevenson – Lindon Meikle
SUBS: Shane Redmond – Louis Briscoe – Luke O’Neill – Nialle Rodney – Marcus Kelly
Two minutes in it was the hosts who looked to attack first as Marriott was called into action. Anthony Elding was the creator in the centre of the park playing a strong ball through the middle which Ritchie Sutton miss controlled, speedy wing man Michael Coulson then cut inside and let fly from the edge of the box, however Marriott was equal to it and held on well.
At the other end the Stags tested the water on four minutes with Ross Dyer looking strong in the air and Lee Stevenson showing good movement. A long ball through the middle was met by Dyer in the air; he flicked the ball onto the right of the area where Lee Stevenson lay in wait. The former Eastwood man struck beautifully on the half volley however James McKeown was well placed to keep the ball out.
Despite the two early chances, strikes at goal seemed rare during the opening exchanges with the 2,553 fans inside Blundell Park having to wait until the 22nd Minute for the next clear cut chance, with the 140 visiting from Mansfield watching on with the hearts in their mouths as John Dempsters error sent the hosts trough. Dempster was looking to play his side out of trouble but played a suicidal ball square in search of Freeman, the pass was too heavy and Freeman was beaten to it by Luke McArthy who charged forward and let fly from the edge of the area. Marriott was on hand to palm it away by the danger was far from gone, amongst a crowd of bodies a Grimsby boot powered a shot towards the line which John Thompson cleared, the ball then looped up for Liam Hearn who saw his powerful shot well saved by Marriott on the line.
Lindon Meikle looked lively again on the left wing for the Stags, his 25 minute curling effort was straight at the keeper though and moments later, it was again the hosts who pounced on a Mansfield error. This time is was skipper Murray who saw his strong pass towards Ritchie Sutton intercepted by Michael Coulson, the nipped wide man burst free and soon found himself 1 vs 1 with Marriott, the Stags keeper saved the day, blocking Coulson’s driven effort with his legs – the pressure was taken off the Stags as the defence raced back in support, John Dempster was fouled and Mansfield awarded a free kick.
Mansfield enjoyed spells of their own, Lee Stevenson was again creative but lacked a real sting in the tale on 31 minutes when he sent a free kick crashing against the wall 23 yards from goal after Meikle was fouled. Two minutes later Stevenson atoned for his poor free kick setting Mansfield’s best chance of the game, battling well to disposes former Luton defender Will Antwi, the prolific goal scoring midfielder sent leading scorer Matt Green on his way. Green showed tremendous speed to get 1 vs 1 with McKeown unleashing a ferocious effort which was somehow blocked by the Mariners’ keepers inside right leg. Had Green let fly maybe a second or two early there’s no doubt the net would have burst.
Further efforts were from Thompson and Meikle were easy saved by McKeown but again the game remained outside both boxes, and as the half time whistle blew, the teams headed back into the dressing rooms level.
Grimsby 0-0 Stags
The second half began in similar fashion to the first with the hosts again having an early opportunity. John Thompson’s defensive header was surprisingly wayward and allowed Grimsby front man Liam Hearn to break free. The ball bounced once and as Marriott charged out, Hearn neatly lobbed the Stags shot stopper but fortunately for Mansfield, shot wide.
Ten minutes into the second half and it was the Stags’ turn to attack, Lee Stevenson again looked lively playing a key part in a solo move. The lively midfielder did well to win the ball and charge free into space, however with Dyer to his right and Green waiting through the middle, Stevenson opted for the shot and fired well over the cross bar.
On the hour mark Marriott was again called into action as the Stags got penned in by a Grimsby set piece. Former Stag Craig Disley’s original corner was poor and easily dealt with by John Thompson, however Disley again whipped the ball back in and saw his left footed cross headed into the path of Coulson who lurked on the edge of the area. After cutting past Meikle, Coulson curled a shot towards goal – Alan Marriott produced a fine back peddling stop to tip the looping ball over the bar.
Ten minutes later Cox shook the pack, introducing Louis Briscoe for Lee Stevenson with Dyer moving up alongside Green as 4-2-3-1 became 4-4-2. Three minutes after the substitution Mansfield looked to dominate down the right as Ritchie Sutton received Briscoe’s pass, the utility defender who set Stags’ third goal on Saturday, looked to repeat the feat with a powerful cross again in search of Meikle, however this time the ball agonisingly bye-passed everyone, bobbling harmlessly away for a goal kick.
With 7 minutes to go, the hosts introduced former Stags forward Rob Duffy, the former Mansfield number 9 was immediately thwarted by ex team mate Marriott. Coulson’s low ball back in from the right touch line found Duffy free, the welsh man let fly but Marriott had already sprung himself down low, diverting the ball over with his boot. Moments later Marriott was again the saviour as a cross found defender Will Antwi in the middle, Antwi softly headed into Marriott’s hands.
The final chance of the game fell to the Stags in stoppage time following a fine passing movement. Adam Murray started it inside his own half nipping the ball off to Ross Dyer who then burst free into space over the half way line. The former Hednesford forward took the ball to the edge of the area but releasing Briscoe who took on his man before firing towards goal, James McKeown got down well to his left to keep out Briscoe’s late drive.
Mansfield then kept the ball well pressuring to the death, however the clock soon ran out meaning the sides had to share the points.
Full Time: Grimsby 0-0 Stags
A point away from home should certainly be looked upon as one point gained rather than two dropped, the Stags put in a decent display and beside a few misplaced passes which allowed Grimsby in, there’s actually nothing to complain about – The Stags did their job, worked hard as a unit and made sure they took something out of the game. Without doubt they missed the influence of Aman Verma alongside Murray; however Bolland did a good enough job against a team who look a reflection of us. Alan Marriott was outstanding in goal and not only does he get his own metaphorical action figure doll on sale in all good stores, but he also gets a rare CTA Man of the Match award, without Marriott’s display last night you would probably be reading about defeat right now.
Still it’s all smiles on the faces and we head into Saturday’s FA Trophy Tie with Droylsden with a decent looking away record on our backs, just one league defeat on the road all season.
Thank you for reading, I hope you will be listening to my coverage of tonight’s friendly at Eastwood – I Shall be live on www.mtfcmatters.weebly.com from 7.20PM with full commentary followed by a report tomorrow evening or Friday.