MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
By Trevor Hewson
Ah Mansfield, I once nearly bought a house in Mansfield, the estate agent tried hard to explain away the 1st floor drug den but for some reason it didn't quite seem homely enough.
I then escaped to live in Nottingham for some years but have not until tonight had the pleasure of visiting Field Mill, one of those annoying localish grounds that you never manage to get to. Before I set off I wondered if the nearby bar was still called Early Doors and if Big Ron would be in there putting it in the mixer or something like that. It was, he wasn't!
I've got a real problem with watching Town away this year, you used to travel away in the knowledge that you are probably in for a long miserable drive back having to justify the event by taking an interest in visiting a new ground or interesting pub. This season things are different, us dour miserablists have had to cope with the sheer look of joy on Maccas' face at Peterborough when we broke the record or savouring the feeling of a warm summer's evening in London with no-one else getting or caring about the fact we were smiling because we'd beaten Barnet. The only thing to moan about this season has been the football but away from home even that sort of makes sense. I just don't know what I should do: I guess be happy. We I'll try!
After walking up to the ground I thought long and hard about saving my £15 and peering through the fence that looks onto the pitch; the view would have only been partially worse than Stockport but I'm a sheep so into Field Mill it was. It's a bit of a bleak place with three disparate new stands and one of those decaying structures that makes The Main Stand look like the new Wembley. The construction directly behind the dug-outs and is so bad even the ball boy had to wear a hard hat.
Town lined up 4.4.2 style with Mendes partnering Reddy up front, Toner could probably count himself unlucky to be sub along with G Jones and JPK et al.
The opening exchanges were timid efforts: an early Town corner, a wild sliced shot from Dawson, a wilder slicier shot from Parky. After ten mins or so Mansfield made the first real push of the game, a bit of pinball in the Town box and a shot from Barker; two mins later, a bit more pinball another Barker shot, good save by Mildenhall to his right. Then just as the full moon peeked through the clouds over the shanty stand Newey dived into a challenge, missed horribly, the ball was pulled back to Barker who was one of a number of waiting Stags to fire in high and right of Mildenhall. Soft and silly do not come into it.
Town responded with a little more force, Cohen upended, Futch misses subsequent header, Bolland continued with the sliced shot theme.
Town were then lucky not to go further behind. Reet, (more of him later), escaped, one on one with the too far advanced Milds who saved the wrong choice of shot (a lob would have left the keeper stranded). Croft, Reddy & Parky then combined well to release the ever-willing Cohen who forced Pressman into the first real save he'd had to make. He was then tested shortly afterwards with a powerful header that went straight at him. All that exercise for the big lad, it looked like he might have to have a sit down, cheeks as red as his XXL shirt.
Dawson and Reet continued to petulantly endear themselves to the Town fans before some extravagant back-passes to Mildenhall caused unnecessary pressure on the town goal. This pressure immediately told with a firm but speculative shot from Coke going right through the Town 'keeper in a Williams-like way, the ball crept towards the line, the big man recovered and scooped it away, the Ref/Linesman combo gave a goal. Was it over? Not certain, looked tight to me but I'll let those that were there make their own minds up.
Again Town responded with a crashing shot against the bar from Woodhouse. Right on half time Newey rounded off a sterling first half by picking up a daft booking for yet again diving into a tackle he was never going to make.
All in all an awful first half, no passing, no cohesion, no passion no support for Reddy, I could go on (and on).
Mansfield Report Part 2
By Rob Sedgwick
AFTER all that, the interval brought some light relief with the Town fans imploring Sarah not to say yes to Sean's touching touchline proposal, then the half time draw gave some lucky punter the chance to win a lovely Elizabeth Duke or something necklace. Love is in the air, nice...!
No changes at the break so more of the same: Town bright in patches, a Parky shot, a shout for a Mendes pen and Cohen latching on to a hefty throw from Croft to force a corner. The most obnoxious man in football, Danny Reet, then set up a tetchy passage of play by pretending he'd been head butted by Woodhouse, if only!
A couple of Mansfield bookings (Nos 3 & 15) - with Barker following Reet's quiet and gentlemanly example on both occasions - preceded Croft getting the same treatment for a silly late lunge.
Gary Jones then pulled on his boil-in-the-bag boots and replaced Parky who was subbed presumably for trying to get the ball on the ground and pass it to a Town player. Mansfield hit the post with a screamer, Reddy escapes only for play to be stopped for a Mansfield player faking a head injury, that's bad in itself but that was annoying enough but Mr Reet's actions afterwards were nothing short of disgraceful.
The usual drop ball in the middle of the field, unchallenged, he kicks it for touch in the corner, and then urges all his team mates to pressurize Towns' throw-in. Cue some overzealous policing to remove a Town fan for telling it a little colourfully how it was. Actually I think I owe the lad an apology here as it was probably me who caught plod's twitchy ear with my entertaining use of industrial vernacular.
With the game degenerating fast the Mansfield No. 3 got his second booking for a clumsy tackle on Reddy. This, combined with the more robust approach of G Jones gave Town a much-needed boost. Jones himself had a great chance by the post before a sweet Woodhouse volley flew past Pressman into the opposite corner, giving Town 15 mins or so to rescue something.
Constant pressure though only resulted in a couple of chances, another Jones header and a Reddy shot well saved by Pressman. The only other way back for Town would have been via the penalty spot for one of the many tugs and climbs on Town players missed by the increasingly myopic Ref.
There it frustratingly ended, only for us to trudge out to the sight of Mildenhall looking totally distraught as he applauded the excellent 737 away support. I can't blame him for the result, perhaps the wrong choice of starting personnel and a reliance on a hoof up to the isolated Reddy should be the starting point.
Mr Newey should take a long hard look at himself, it's kid's stuff to dive in like he did: Macca and Croft as full-backs please.
As for man of the match, it's a tough one, but for his non-stop running, especially in the first half, Gary Cohen just about deserves it
GIANT STEP AS STAGS SHOW GRIT
Evening Post, 15 February 2006
Mansfield Town 2 v 1 Grimsby Town
You can have all the flair in the world, but sometimes grit is just as important.
Last night Mansfield needed grit by the bucketload. And how they delivered.
Things looked to be going just as planned. The Yellows raced into a two-goal lead by half time and, unlike at Wycombe on Saturday, held that advantage well into the second half.
But then Gareth Jelleyman was sent off for two bookings, and the course of the game changed.
From looking comfortably in control, Mansfield were suddenly, and inevitably under a barrage of pressure.
Grimsby pulled a goal back in the 79th minute and that could have seen the Stags crumble.
But instead they rolled their sleeves up and
displayed the kind of determin- ation that manager Peter Shirtliff has been calling for.
At times it wasn't pretty and at times it was desperate. But, most importantly, it was effective.
It was also pretty nerve-wracking. So the relief at full time from both players and supporters was understandable.
The success saw the Stags record only their second victory in ten matches and maintained their strong record against Grimsby at Field Mill. The Mariners have beaten them there only once - 50 years ago.
Grimsby have moved into a title-challenging position on the back of the best defensive away record in League Two.
But they were anything but watertight against the Stags in the first half.
First, left-back Tom Newey was caught in possession near his own goal by Stephen Dawson, leaving the visiting defence well out of position.
The Irishman kept his cool to pick out striker Richie Barker, who slammed home his 17th of the season from close range in the 19th minute.
Then came a glaring error from former Notts player Steve Mildenhall - the type of thing that gives all goalkeepers nightmares.
Having just made two fine saves, keeping out goalbound shots from Barker and Reet, Mildenhall then fumbled a 20-yard shot from Giles Coke and could not scramble back to stop the ball trickling over the line.
Before that second goal both sides had gone close to scoring, while in the closing stages of the first half Grimsby's Curtis Woodhouse was unlucky to see his delicate chip land on the top of the crossbar.
After the break it was no surprise to see Grimsby step up the tempo.
But Mansfield battled well and could even have gone 3-0 ahead when Wilson's shot from just outside the box thudded against the inside of the right-hand post and bounced out.
However, Jelleyman was then shown two yellow cards in the space of 13 minutes for fouls on Gary Cohen and Michael Reddy.
As a result, Mansfield were forced deeper and deeper towards their own 18-yard line in a bid to keep out Russell Slade's side.
Opportunities came Grimsby's way and, after substitute Gary Jones had missed a sitter, Woodhouse lashed home a right-footed shot from the left-hand side of the box.
A tense finish followed. It needed an excellent stop from Kevin Pressman in the 86th minute to deny Reddy.
The victory was good enough to lift the Stags up to 16th place in the table and, though they are still only five points clear of the drop zone, the key thing is they have pulled other teams into the mire.
Had Mansfield drawn or lost they really would h ave serious problems.
But the Stags must remember that the job is only half done.
Defeat against Wrexham on Saturday would put Mansfield right back in danger and spoil all their good work.
A win, though, would see them take another giant step towards safety.
MANSFIELD: Pressman, Jelleyman, Buxton, Hjelde, John-Baptiste, Wilson, Coke, D'Laryea, Dawson, Barker, Reet (Lloyd 76). Subs not used: Uhlenbeek, White, Rundle, Arnold
GRIMSBY: Mildenhall, Newey, Futcher, R. Jones, Croft (Kalala 77), Parkinson (G. Jones 67), Woodhouse, Bolland, Cohen, Reddy, Mendes (Toner 85) Subs not used: Downey, Barwick
REFEREE: Colin Webster (Tyne and Wear).
ATTENDANCE: 3,053 (737 visitors)
ALL 11 STAGS 'HAD A GO'
Evening Post, 15 February 2006
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff was delighted with the fighting spirit shown by his side in a hard-earned victory over Grimsby.
"I saw 11 players out there who wanted to compete and have a go and I can't fault them," he said.
"What was most pleasing for me to see was the commitment because I asked for it and got it.
"The fans were fantastic. They got behind the players right until the end. I think it's because they could see all 11 players were having a go.
"That is all that they can ask for and that is all I ask for as their manager too."
Shirtliff was bemused by the sending-off of defender Gareth Jelleyman 17 minutes from time for a second yellow card.
He said: "It was a disgrace. How can a left-back be sent off for two average free-kicks?
"The referee has said that they were two cautionable offences but if that is the case, then it could have been eight v eight at the end.
"It gave the impetus, all of a sudden, to them. They brought on big lads off the bench and it made it very difficult for us to defend. But credit to the boys - they dug in and got a result."
But Shirtliff will be warning his team against complacency. He now wants to see the Stags press on and take three more points when Wrexham visit Field Mill on Saturday
"It has been a good week for us with four points from two really tough matches," he said.
"Now we have to regroup for another difficult game. It would be nice to beat Wrexham because we have only got back-to-back wins once this season."
Russell Slade felt Mansfield had the good fortune they lacked when they visited Grimsby last month.
The Mariners' boss said after the Stags' 2-1 defeat at Blundell Park in January that they had been unlucky not to take at least a point.
But he felt the boot was on the other foot on last night, with Grimsby not deserving to lose.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't get anything," he said
Shirtliff waits on walking wounded
CHAD website, 15 February 2006
MANSFIELD Town boss Peter Shirtliff will tomorrow take a roll call of his walking wounded as he tries to patch together a side for Saturday's visit of Wrexham.
Already without Chris Beardsley, Simon Brown and Allan Russell, Shirtliff now has other players on the treatment table after last night's superb 2-1 win over leaders Grimsby Town and will also be without Gareth Jelleyman after his red card last night.
"It's been a great week with four points against the top two," said Shirtliff. "But we do have a few walking wounded and we will just have to regoup and have a roll call on Thursday morning.
"Richie Barker needed two stitches in his eyebrow, Alex John-Baptiste felt his groin flare up again and we have others who are a bit battered and bruised."
On the win he added: "The best thing for me was the commitment. I couldn't have asked for any more.
"I thought the sending-off was a disgrace. They were two tackles. I asked the referee how can a left back get sent off for two average free kicks and he told me they were both cautionable offences.
"If they were then we were lucky to only finish 10 v 11 and not 8 v 8. It was unbelievable.
"It gave Grimsby the impetus and they brought big men off the bench and overloaded on size which made it difficult for us to clear the ball.
"Yes we had a bit of luck. Russell Slade said to me that when we went to their place we didn't deserve to lose 2-1. They probably didn't deserve to lose 2-1 here on goalmouth situations, particularly in that last 15 minutes. But that's football.
"Our fans were fantastic and really got behind us. That was because they could see 11 players out there giving 100 per cent effort."
Mariners boss Russell Slade said: "Obviously we are disappointed that we didn't get anything out the game.
"Probably for the first time this season we have made two blunders in the same game and we have been punished for both of them. Hopefully we can learn a lesson from it.
"Perhaps the 2-0 scoreline flattered Mansfield at half-time, though to be fair to them they did take their chances.
"You take it on the chin and try to do something about it second half which we did. We upped the tempo and unsettled them.
"But by the time we pulled one back we didn't leave a lot of time. They had 10 men which made it even more difficult for them. We camped in and around their box but couldn't score again.
"The boys felt they ought to have had a penalty or two and sometimes you wonder what you have to do to earn one."
SLADE: WE MUST LEARN OUR LESSONS
Grimsby Evening Telegraph
Upbeat Grimsby Town boss Russell Slade hopes lessons dished out at Field Mill are quickly learned.
The Mariners manager said two individual errors separated the sides last night. Bloopers from Tom Newey and Steve Mildenhall eventually took the game out of Town's reach, a late rally notwithstanding.
But Slade said he expects his charges to pick themselves up and cut out the mistakes before Saturday's trip to Rochdale.
"I am obviously disappointed that my team has not got anything out of the game," he said.
"For the first time this season we have done the business but we have been punished for the errors.
"We have made two massive mistakes which have cost us dearly and I hope we learn our lessons."
Slade said he could do nothing other than defend keeper Steve Mildenhall, whose blunder on 40 minutes doubled the Stags' first-half lead.
A speculative 20-yard strike by Mansfield's Giles Coke trickled through his grasp.
As he turned to rescue the situation, the ball crept over the line.
He said: "My keeper hasn't made a mistake like that all season.
"I don't want to be harping on about things like that and certainly not to the players.
"He knows it was an error, but he has played well other than that.
"To be honest Mildenhall's not had an awful lot to do in the second half.
"Other than that he's only had one or two other saves."
Newey's mistimed pass led to Richie Barker's opening goal on 19 minutes, just as Town tried to grab the game by the scruff of its neck.
And Slade said there is also no need for extended inquests where that is concerned.
"To be fair, Tom shouldn't have been trying that in that position," he said.
"He knows that and it is not something I need to bang on about in the dressing room to the players."
Satisfied with the performance, Slade said he rued missed late chances.
Gareth Jelleyman's 73rd minute sending-off dangled the carrot of another away point tantalisingly close.
But Town's Stag-hunting went unrewarded.
Slade said the home side shut up shop to play out the remainder of the game after that.
With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, he could only watch as striker Gary Jones prodded wide from just yards out.
He said: "I thought we had a fair share of possession and perhaps towards the end of the second half we could have got back in it.
"We didn't deserve to be in that position at half-time and we upped the tempo in the second half.
"We bombarded their 18 yard box in the last 30 minutes.
"We were well on top territorially.
"There were one or two goal-mouth scrambles, it would have been a great point for us after two-nil at half-time.
"I felt as if we gave the travelling fans some entertainment value and some hope in the second half."
He said he thought the mistakes glossed the Mansfield performance.
He said: "I thought we had a fair share of possession and perhaps the goals flattered them.
"We tried to do something about that in the second half.
"The ball was flying in all over the place towards the end and I felt we should have had a penalty or two."
I'M SO SORRY FOR BLUNDER - STEVE
Grimsby Evening Telegraph
DAVID PYE, SOCCER WRITER
Downhearted Grimsby Town stopper Steve Mildenhall couldn't hide his disappointment after gifting Mansfield a Valentine's Day present they were only too happy to accept.
The Town man's rare blooper, five minutes before half-time, gave Stags midfielder Giles Coke an unexpected sixth goal of the campaign when his 20-yard shot squirmed under the body of the Mariners' net-minder. And it proved to be the decisive goal in a 2-1 scoreline that consigned Town to their 10th League Two defeat of the campaign.
But the man who has shone between the sticks for the men from Blundell Park this year says he can't dwell on his mistake with a trip to Rochdale coming up at the weekend.
Mildenhall said: "I am bitterly disappointed with myself after making such an easy mistake.
"It is one of those saves that will come around 400 times in training and would never happen again.
"I just took my eye off the ball at the last minute and it was agonising as it ran behind me.
"It's a horrible thing to happen to concede a goal like I did.
"The fact that we pulled a goal back made it even worse because it left me thinking, if I hadn't made that mistake we could have gone away with a point.
"I had made a couple of good saves before that error but football has a nasty way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it, when you think you could have got a draw.
"But it's ifs, buts and maybes - I have just got to get back training and work hard ahead of Saturday.
"I'm big enough to take it on the chin and will just get on with it."
It was a night of mistakes for Russell Slade's side with left-back Tom Newey at fault for the Stags' first goal from Richie Barker.
He was caught in possession on the flank and Stephen Dawson put it on a plate for Barker to score.
And Mildenhall says the uncharacteristic errors left the dressing room gutted - especially after the defeat saw them slip from top spot in the table.
He went on: "I think the lads are all disappointed with the result because, for the majority of the game, we put them under an awful lot of pressure.
"In the second half I don't think they got out of their own half.
"We were camped in their 18-yard box for long spells.
"But even in the first half, for around 30 minutes I thought we looked in control despite giving them a few chances.
"The gaffer said at half-time that we had four lapses of concentration in that first half and two of those we didn't get away with and got punished.
"Both myself and Tom have just got to get our heads up now."
Despite the frustration after his costly error, Mildenhall's name continued to be chanted by the 700-plus Town following.
And he acknowledged that tremendous support after the game.
He added: "I must say how much I appreciate the supporters.
"They were absolutely brilliant after the goal went in.
"They were fully behind me and kept encouraging me.
"Even at the end of the game they were exceptional and I would like to go on record and thank all of those who came and backed me.
"I also want to apologise to them for making such a bad mistake, but these things can happen. Hopefully it won't again!"
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