Mariners in 7th Heaven
1st Jan 2011, 3pm
Attendance: 3,654 (away 518)
Back in League action after a much publicised, but unwanted, winter break Grimsby Town were unchanged from the side that beat Redditch Utd in the FA Trophy.
Looking to put the woes of 2010 firmly behind them, the Mariners wanted to start the New Year in style, and didn`t they do just that !
Mansfield Town, who were unchanged after their recent 5-1 win against Cambridge Utd., were swept aside by Town`s movement and passing right from the start. That tempo was rewarded as early as the 5th minute when top scorer Alan Connell broke down the left and laid the ball into the path of Peter Bore who scored at the far post.
The cheers had barely stopped ringing around Blundell Park before Town doubled the lead in the 6th minute. Michael Coulson used Lee Ridley`s overlap as a decoy, switched the ball onto his right foot and curled his shot into the corner of the net via a Mansfield defender.
Grimsby were giving the Stags` defence a torrid time. With the pace of Connell, Ademeno and Coulson up front allied to the intelligent passing in midfield from Sinclair, Cummins and Bore, the visitors back line were looking bemused and fragile.
The Mariners clearly wanted a third goal to put the game to bed, and the lively Connell thought he had made that breakthrough midway in the half. He twisted and turned in the box only to see keeper Pilkington pull off a fine save.
With Mansfield starting to come into the game a bit more around the half hour mark, a ricochet off Kempson in defence set up a quick break for Town down the left hand side through Coulson. His cutback fell to Charles Ademeno and his shot rebounded back off the bar.
Then came the game`s ugliest moment when Mansfield`s Murray seemingly flattened Sinclair after the ball had gone, but the referee had not seen the incident.
Town then gave Mansfield a belated Christmas present after a terrible mix up in defence. On 44 minutes, a cross was allowed to bounce in the box and Duffy was able to reach it before Kenny Arthur and headed into an empty net, making the score 2-1.
In first half added time Mansfield`s Briscoe was lucky to only be shown a yellow card after a high, two footed tackle from behind that left Grimsby`s Lee Ridley needing treatment.
H/T Grimsby 2 Mansfield 1
Fortunately, the half time break didn`t interrupt Grimsby`s flow and pattern of play. They took up where they had left off and were well and truly outplaying their fancied opponents.
Goals were sure to come, with the openings that Town were creating, and therefore it was no surprise when they re-established a two goal lead in the 51st minute. With Connell claiming a penalty, Dean Sinclair, showing terrific composure, picked out Peter Bore for a simple tap in.
Although the Stags were now trying to get a hold on the match, they were faced with a Grimsby team that was showing class in every position. Both full backs, Ridley and Bradley Wood, joined in the attacking moves at every opportunity, whilst the two centre backs, Rob Atkinson and Darran Kempson capably handled everything that came their way. Indeed, their distribution was the springboard for many of Town`s attacking moves.
Blundell Park would not be the same this season without a goal from Town`s top scorer Alan Connell. The hugely popular striker duly obliged on 55 minutes, floating a free kick into the net for his 18th goal this term and giving his side a 4-1 lead.
Nobody in a Grimsby shirt could be held responsible for what happened soon afterwards. The Stags again pulled one back when, out of the blue, Briscoe let fly from fully thirty five yards to score in the 57th minute. The goal may have given Mansfield the feeling that they could turn the game their way, and made a change, bringing on top scorer Paul Connor in place of Parker.
Grimsby responded by bringing on Lee Peacock for Ademeno, who deserved the applause he received for his all-action 61 minutes.
However, it was Mansfield who had a grip on the game, had more of the ball, and won a series of corners. For several minutes it appeared that the Mariners were playing to hold on to their lead by defending in numbers. After the superb display of the first hour, the home fans were becoming a little anxious.
But normal service was resumed after the Stags` keeper, Pilkington, was forced to concede a corner from Bore`s cross. Ridley took the set piece and Kempson headed in forcefully at the far post in the 69th minute - 5-2 to Grimsby.
Rob Eagle was introduced on 72 minutes as a like for like replacement for Michael Coulson. He fitted in seamlessly and was involved in the move that ended with Peacock chesting the ball down before volleying his shot just over the bar from 25 yards.
On 77 minutes, Sinclair was replaced by Hudson and he left the pitch to the loud chorus of "Deano, Deano". Again the substitution didn`t detract from Town`s performance, and they had the home fans cheering again on 81 minutes when Connell placed another free kick in off the inside of the post - 6-2.
Into the last 5 minutes and manager, Neil Woods, responds to the calls from the crowd with a wave to the Pontoon stand, and the cries of "ole, ole" rang out from three sides of the ground.
With Town still looking menacing, they won another free kick just outside the box. The fans were willing Connell to complete his hat trick, but his effort was just too high. But he was involved in the build-up to Grimsby`s seventh goal in the 89th minute. His clever back heel found Peacock, who fed the ball to Bore in space, and he scored with a low shot to complete his treble.