Attendance: 871 (79 from Mansfield)
Date: 25 July 2014
STAGS GRIND OUT 1-0 WIN IN TOUGH CONTEST
Martin Shaw at Blundell Park
Mansfield Town faced a very different challenge in the latest pre-season friendly at Blundell Park. This was a hard-fought, tough tackling, rumbustious game, much more like we will face in League Two this season than the games at the One Call Stadium so far against teams from higher divisions. And whilst results don’t count for much in pre-season, it was still encouraging that Mansfield came out of it with a 1-0 victory. The first half was an even affair with chances for either side though the Stags shaded it: Grimsby came very close to scoring when Paddy McLaughlin headed against the inside of the post and it rolled along the line and out. The Stags could have been ahead through a clever lob from Ollie Palmer, and a free header from a corner by Matt Rhead, but did take the lead on 43 minutes when Ollie Palmer’s shot from a tight angle squirmed under Grimsby keeper James McKeown straight into the path of Matt Rhead who slotted home from 3 yards. The second half saw Mansfield change 7 of the team, and there were fewer chances as Mansfield ground out the victory and overall it was an encouraging performance. New goalkeeper signing Sascha Studer impressed in goal with safe handling, some decisive punching, and two terrific saves, one one-handed down to his left and the other with the tips of his fingers to his right. The first half strike-pairing of Rhead and Palmer could have had three goals between them but did get one. Liam Hearn got another half an hour under his belt and didn’t get much service but did have a couple of shots blocked. Hearn got a nice reception from the home fans on his return from injury, having previously been at Grimsby. In midfield there was plenty of tough tackling from McGuire and Murray who treated this as anything but a pre-season friendly. The defence looked ok and Tafazolli got 45 minutes under his belt, back from injury, and there was relief when he went down in the first half and bashed the turf in frustration giving the appearance that he was badly hurt, but he returned after some attention from the physio and looked fine after that. No return for Luke Jones in defence, probably he will get some time against Lincoln. Beevers had a very good half and even added a string to his bow with a fine corner that created a chance for Rhead. Marsden continued to not look out of place at right wing-back in the second half. Amari’i Bell played the second 45 minutes at left wing-back and put in his best performance to date with some good defending including a clearance off the line and one great challenge, and also created a shot for himself. The trialist left wing-back, who had played the first three pre-season games, got another 45 minutes, and looked pretty decent. The other trialist to play was trialist midfielder who came on for the last 12 minutes against Leeds - he looked strong and powerful here but didn’t impress hugely.
The game kicked off at the early time of 7.00 with no explanation of why. It became clear later why it had kicked off at that time, as Grimsby didn’t put the floodlights on. And as it was a dull evening rather than a bright evening as we’ve had lately, by the time the game ended it was quite dark! It was also surprisingly cool, given how warm it’s been for the past few days.
Stags team (3-2-2-1-2 formation in both halves):
Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli;
Beevers, Trialist left wing-back (LATER NAMED AS ROB TAYLOR);
Trialist midfielder (LATER NAMED AS ANTHONY GRIFFITH), McGuire;
Sutton, Dempster, Riley;
Marsden, Amari’i Bell;
Second half sub:
Hearn (for Rhead, 64)
Sub not used: Jack Thomas.
On 3 minutes, the Stags got a free kick 22 yards from goal as the referee penalised a high kick on Fergus Bell. The trialist left wing-back sent it well over the bar. On 6 minutes, trialist midfielder had a shot blocked. Grimsby’s Brown had a snapshot on 9 minutes that was a comfortable save for Studer. Moments later, a Grimsby cross from the right, and a header flicked off a Stags defender for a corner.
On 12 minutes, a good challenge by Tafazolli. A minute later, a free kick was taken quickly by Beevers but Rhead couldn’t direct it goalwards. At the other end on 14 minutes, a Grimsby cross into the middle and Studer tried to punch but didn’t get much on it, allowing Grimsby a shot which was blocked. On 15 minutes, there was a good powerful run from Palmer to earn a corner.
On 18 minutes, good strength from Sutton against Pittman.
There was a chance for the Stags on 20 minutes when Rhead superbly flicked-on Tafazolli’s ball forward, and Palmer sent a fine chip goalwards but McKeown just got back to keep it out.
On 21 minutes, trialist left wing-back set up Fergus Bell who cut inside and shot goalwards, McKeown saved it low down by the left post. On 22 minutes, a good tackle by trialist left-wing back.
A minute later, Tafazolli stretched for a challenge in the middle of the park and went down. He bashed the turf in frustration. It looked like he was badly hurt but after going off to get some attention from physio Chris Bowman, he was soon back on and looking okay.
On 25 minutes, McLaughlin sent in a left footed shot and Studer made a superb save with his fingertips to push it behind for a corner. On 31 minutes, a Grimsby trialist sent in a shot which deflected off Riley and went wide of the left post. On 34 minutes, Riley was beaten for pace by Pittman but Tafazolli did well to block Pittman’s shot. From a Grimsby corner from the right, Magnay headed well wide. On 36 minutes, the first yellow card of pre-season was given when Beevers was booked for not retreating. It seemed ridiculously inconsistent refereeing given some of the bad challenges in other matches. On 40 minutes, a Grimsby cross from the right and Grimsby’s trialist striker outjumped Riley and sent in a weak header which was easily saved by Studer.
Grimsby were unlucky not to be in front on 41 minutes. A good cross from the right and McLaughlin sent in a fine header which crashed against the inside of the left post and almost along the goal-line and away to safety for the Stags.
The Stags were nearly in front themselves at the other end on 42 minutes. Beevers took a corner from the right, his chipped effort held up for Rhead at the far post who put his header wide.
But the Stags were in front on 43 minutes. Palmer got the ball from a lucky ricochet after chasing a high ball forward and his shot from a tight angle squirmed under Grimsby keeper James McKeown straight into the path of Matt Rhead who slotted home from 3 yards.
It was a pretty even first half though the Stags just shaded it in terms of good chances.
Half time 0-1
The Stags made 7 changes at the beginning of the second half with only Studer, Sutton, Riley and Rhead staying on. Grimsby made 4 changes including bringing on former Stag Craig Disley and former Matlock striker Ross Hannah.
On 52 minutes, good confident goalkeeping from Studer as he punched away a good cross from Aswad Thomas under pressure from a striker who had lost his marker Riley. On 56 minutes, Rhead headed on to Fisher who sent a shot straight at the keeper from a tight angle.
On 58 minutes, another good punch from Studer as he cleared a Grimsby free kick from the right. Studer had to receive attention though as he was clattered in the chest.
On 62 minutes, Mackreth crossed from the left for Grimsby just in front of Hannah.
Former Grimsby striker Liam Hearn replaced Rhead on 64 minutes and got good applause from the home fans.
A couple of loose balls from Amari’i Bell.
Former Stag Nathan Arnold replaced Mackreth on 68 minutes.
Murray picked up a yellow card on 72 minutes for a foul on John-Lewis. A minute later, Hannah’s free kick from 29 yards was well over the bar.
On 77 minutes, a Grimsby corner from the right, Amari’i Bell cleared the ball away and Arnold volleyed over the bar and over the stand.
Marsden put in a good ball to Fisher. On 79 minutes, Hearn played the ball to Heslop who should have shot but didn’t.
On 81 minutes, the save of the match came from Studer. A corner from the left and Magnay show goalwards, Studer saved brilliantly, left-handed low to his left. The ball ran to Hannah on the right who shot wide of the right post.
On 82 minutes, Amari’i Bell cleared off the line from Hannah’s shot from the left. On 84 minutes, Heslop had a shot blocked. Moments later, Amari’i Bell cut in from the left on to his right foot and sent a powerful shot from the edge of the area straight at McKeown.
On 85 minutes, Hearn showed his class with a lovely back heel to Heslop. Hearn had a shot blocked from the edge of the area on 89 minutes.
The game was finishing in near darkness.
A great challenge by Amari’i Bell on 89 minutes on Neilson. On 90+1, Neilson crossed from the right and Disley sent a looping header wide of the right post. On 90+2, a good move from the Stags involving Clements and Murray to Fisher whose shot from a tight was well-saved by McKeown, though Fisher was flagged offside anyway.
An encouraging performance from the Stags and another victory, not that victories count for anything at this stage.
Man of the match: Sascha Studer
Report by: Martin Shaw at Blundell Park
Studer 8.5 Impressed in goal with safe handling, some decisive punching, and two terrific saves, one one-handed down to his left and the other with the tips of his fingers to his right.
Sutton 7 Solid; one fine piece of defending holding off Pittman.
Riley 7 Part of a solid back three, though lost the striker he was marking a couple of times from crosses.
Tafazolli 7.5 Some good challenges and blocks. Good to see him back .
Beevers 7.5 Very good half and even added a string to his bow with a fine corner that created a chance for Rhead.
Trialist left wing-back (LATER NAMED AS ROB TAYLOR) (who also played against Notts Co and Aston Villa) 7 Looked pretty decent.
Trialist midfielder (LATER NAMED AS ANTHONY GRIFFITH) 5.5 Looked strong and powerful here but didn’t impress hugely.
McGuire 6.5 Tough tackling and treated this as anything but a pre-season friendly.
Fergus Bell 6.5 Decent half. One shot on target.
Palmer 7 His shot led to the goal. One lobbed effort that nearly beat the keeper.
Rhead 7 A couple of good flick-ons. Scored one and missed another good chance.
Sub Line Up:
Dempster (for Tafazolli, 46) 7 Solid half.
Marsden (for Beevers, 46) 7 Continued to not look out of place at right wing-back.
Amari’i Bell (for Trialist left wing-back, 46) 7.5 Put in his best performance to date with some good defending including a clearance off the line and one great challenge, and also created a shot for himself.
Clements (for Trialist midfielder, 46) 6.5 Nice play with Murray to set up a chance for Fisher.
Murray (for McGuire, 46) 6.5 Lovely ball to set up chance for Fisher. Tough tackling and treated this as anything but a pre-season friendly.
Heslop (for Fergus Bell, 46) 6 Did ok.
Fisher (for Palmer, 46) 7 A couple of efforts on goal.
Hearn (for Rhead, 63) 7 One great back-heel oozed class. Didn’t get much service but did have a couple of shots blocked.
Opposition Line Up:
McKeown; Bignot, Magnay, Doig, Thomas; Mackreth (Arnold 69), Clay (Disley 46), Brown, McLaughlin (Neilson 71); Pittman (John-Lewis 46), Ironside (Hannah 46). Not used: Pearson, Bastock, Humble, Walker, Winfarrah, Nsiala.
K Evans 6 Booked Beevers for not retreating from a free kick after letting some bad fouls go.