STAGS ROAR BACK TO WIN THROUGH O`NEILL SET PIECES
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 2 - 1 Grimsby Town
O'Neill 71, Connor 76. Coulson 30.
Attendance: 2982 (589 from Grimsby)
Date: 8 October 2011
by Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at Field Mill
Mansfield Town came back from 1-0 down to beat Grimsby 2-1 at Field Mill this afternoon thanks to a wonderful free kick from Luke O'Neill from 30 yards, and then a Paul Connor header from a fine O'Neill corner. The Stags were behind at the break, to Coulson's shot from the edge of the box which Marriott appeared to have saved diving to his right, but the ball still crept in off the post. Grimsby were unlucky not to increase their lead minutes later when Marriott punched out a cross from underneath his bar and as the loose ball was belted into the net, the referee deemed that Marriott had been fouled. O'Neill hit the bar with a fine free kick in the first half but generally the Stags were not at the races. In the second half Green appeared to have been fouled in the box, but the referee waved away appeals, before O'Neill's superb goal and Connor's header won it. After that the Stags should have increased the lead when Futcher headed against the bar from another O'Neill corner, and Green was through one-on-one but missed his chance to seal the game. Grimsby had plenty of possession in the closing stages but did not create any chances to equalise. It was the first time this season the Stags have won a game having been behind.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Mansfield Town 2-1 Grimsby, Saturday 8th October
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
TWO goals in six second half minutes turned this game on its head as Stags came from behind to take three very hard-earned points against Grimsby Town at Field Mill this afternoon.
On a wet surface, Stags had stuttered in the first half and the Mariners went in ahead through Michael Coulson's 31st minute striker, although Luke O'Neill did see a free kick turned onto the bar.
But, in a much improved second half showing by Mansfield, a pearl of an O'Neill free kick levelled matters on 71 minutes
And six minutes late sub Paul Connor headed home what proved to be the winner from an O'Neill corner.
It could have been even more decisive after that as Ben Futcher hit the bar and Matt Green failed to put away a one-on-one.
It was a niggly, untidy game with referee Rob Merchant upsetting both teams with some odd decisions and inconsistency, flashing seven yellow cards.
But, in the end all that mattered was that it was three precious points for Paul Cox's men.
The Mariners had the edge in a first half short on real goal chances though Luke O'Neill almost levelled with a 37th minute free kick that keeper James McKeown pushed into the bar.
Referee Rob Merchant angered both sets of fans with some strange decisions and Grimsby won few friends with their gamesmanship in a frustrating 45 minutes.
Duffy might have made an instant impact against his old club when a long Eagle cross from the left reached him seven yards out at the far post after just 20 seconds. But the ball struck his shin and rolled to Marriott.
Meikle pulled a tame low shot at McKeown at the other end a minute later.
But it was Grimsby making the early running and, from a short corner, Church was allowed to get in a header at the far post which Marriott smothered.
Mansfield were slow to get going but produced a move on 12 minutes which ended with Murray crossing to the far post where Todd guided the ball into the keeper's arms.
Soon after a flicked-on cross found Dyer at the back stick but he blazed a hurried effort well off target.
Home fans were unhappy as the referee allowed Grimsby to get away with a foul or three and then lectured Murray when he won a robust, but fair header.
On 24 minutes Coulson was just wide with an off-balance header from another left wing Eagle cross.
The Hearn was too high after controlling on his chest and letting fly with a half-volley on the turn from 20 yards as Grimsby continued to have the edge.
And they went ahead on 31 minutes through Coulson.
Given space just outside the box, Coulson aimed for the top left corner and, although Marriott, at full stretch, got a hand to it, he could only turn and watch as the ball agonisingly dropped in front of goal and trickled over the line.
Stags responded with a corner which, clearerd out to Meikle saw his first shot come back to him off team mate Murray, and his follow-up curl just away from goal at the last minute from 20 yards.
The referee continued to make odd decisions, especially when Disley fairly won the ball against Meikle and a foul was give.
Disley was furious and was booked for his protests, but the former Stag actually barged into the official and should have been red-carded immediately.
Mansfield were almost level on 37 minutes when O'Neill's central 20 yard free kick was turned onto the bar by McKeown and Futcher's follow-up was then saved by the busy keeper.
Stags won another corner from which Murray and Green had shots charged down after McKeown had half-punched clear. But the Mariners had the half-time edge.
Meikle began the second half switching wings to the right but, after 10 minutes, he was replaced by Connor, Dyer dropping into midfield.
The referee continued to bemuse as, with Hearn threatening to break clear on a counter-attack, be brought play back for a free-kick to the Mariners in the centre circle.
Kempson slid in to take both Connor's legs away for a booking on 57 minutes. O'Neill curled the free kick in front of goal where it just needed a touch but flew through to safety instead.
Futcher blocked a Coulson shot from Hearn's pass.
But Stags might have had a penalty on 65 minutes as Murray slipped a pass into the box for Green who appeared to be shoved over from behind by Wood.
All Mansfield got was a corner which Connor headed down into the turf and McKeown reached high to grab as it bounced towards goal.
Duffy was booed from the field by home fans when he was replaced by Stags' summer target Elding on 66 minutes.
McKeown was there to block Murray's shot on the turn from 25 yards and then hold at the second attempt.
Futcher was booked conceding another free kick just outside the box and Eagle joined him in the book for delaying taking the kick.
However, the Stags hauled themselves level on 71 minutes.
From a free kick 30 yards from goal, O'Neill curled a superb, unstoppable effort high to the keeper's right.
It had been a cynical display from Grimsby and Coulson saw their fourth yellow card for his trip on O'Neill who then saw McKeown fail to hold his free kick cleanly and turn over the bar.
Two home corners followed with home fans now in full cry, warming to their side's efforts.
And from that second flag kick, they had their noses in front at last. O'Neill curled it in from the left and Connor's head did the rest from close range.
Green was booked for time-wasting nine minutes from time as he dribbled the ball away when Grimsby were awaiting a goal kick.
Futcher almost tied the points up six minutes from time when he saw his header come back off the bar from O'Neill's corner.
In the last minute of normal time, Dyer sent Green through one-on-one. But McKeown stood tall and shot up a hand to block Green's attempted chip.
Five minutes were added during which Grimsby won a corner and keeper McKeown went up for it. But Marriott kept his cool to catch.
STAGS: Marriott; Naylor, Sutton, Futcher, O'Neill; Todd, Murray, Worthington, Meikle (Connor 55); Green, Dyer. Subs: Redmond, Riley, Stevenson, Bolland.
GRIMSBY: McKeown; Wood (Silk 88), Garner, Kempson, Ridley; Coulson, Disley, Church, Eagle (Makofo 79); Hearn, Duffy (Elding 66). Subs: Artus, Pearson.
REFEREE: Rob Merchant of Staffordshire.
ATTENDANCE: 2,982 (589 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke O'Neill
Full-time: Mansfield Town 2 Grimsby Town 1
Nottingham Post report by Matt Halfpenny
PAUL Connor came off the bench to cap a stirring comeback from Mansfield Town with a coolly taken winner 13 minutes from time.
The Stags trailed 1-0 at the break after Grimsby had enjoyed the better of the first half and struck through Michael Coulson.
But Mansfield hit back strongly after the restart and scored twice in the space of six minutes.
First man of the match Luke O'Neill netted with a brilliant free-kick to put he hosts back on level terms.
That left the stage clear for Connor to send the majority of Field Mill wild with delight with third goal of the season.
It ended a run of five consecutive defeats for the Stags against the Mariners dating back to when both sides were in the Football League.
Mansfield reverted back to 4-4-2 and made three changes to the side that started last weekend's 1-1 draw at Forest Green.
With Anthony Howell suspended, Lindon Meikle was brought back into the midfield.
At the back, Tom Naylor and Ben Futcher came in after serving one game bans, with Martin Riley and Joe Kendrick the men to make way.
Grimsby featured three former Stags in their line-up in the shape of Rob Duffy, Craig Disley and Scott Garner.
Grimsby began well and Rob Duffy might have put them in front inside 30 seconds, only for Robert Eagle' left-wing cross to bounce off him and into the arms of Alan Marriott.
The hosts' first attack saw Lindon Meikle cut in from the left and shoot tamely at James McKeown.
As Grimsby continued their bright start, Anthony Church got in a header on target, but Marriott was equal to it.
Mansfield finally got going when Adam Murray picked out Andy Todd at the far post whose first time volley was held by McKeown.
Soon after, a right-wing cross skidded off the wet turf through to Ross Dyer who skied his attempted volley over the top.
At the other end, Eagle picked out Michael Coulson who glanced a header wide of the right-hand upright.
The Mariners went close again when Liam Hearn found space on the edge of the box but volleyed just too high.
But the warning was not heeded by the Stags and they went behind in the 31st minute.
Coulson was given too much space and though Marriott got fingers on his shot that was bound for the top corner, the ball trickled over the line.
The Stags tried to respond quickly but Meikle's snapshot flew inches wide of goal.
Ex-Mansfield player Disley was fortunate not to see red when he pushed referee Rob Merchant in arguing a decision, instead being shown a yellow card.
It was almost 1-1 when Luke O'Neill curled a free-kick against the bar and then Ben Futcher's follow up was held by McKeown.
Marriott was relieved to hear the whistle for a foul moments later when he failed to punch cleanly and the ball was lashed into his net.
After a slow start to the second period, Meikle made way for Paul Connor, with Ross Dyer being pushed onto the right flank.
Futcher was required to make a timely block just after the hour mark from Coulson's drive after he had been teed up by Hearn.
Mansfield had claims for a penalty waved away when Bradley Wood barged into Matt Green in the box.
And from O'Neill's corner that followed, Connor had a good chance to head Stags level put did not get enough contact to beat McKeown.
But the home side were level in the 71st minute with a stunning strike from O'Neill.
It looked ambitious when he lined up a 30-yard shot from a free-kick but the former Leicester man gave McKeown no chance with a thunderous effort that found the top left-hand corner.
The goal pepped up both the Stags players and their fans and the hosts duly laid siege to the Grimsby goal.
And Mansfield were rewarded when O'Neill's 77th minute corner was glanced in at the near post by Connor.
Futcher almost sealed victory for Mansfield from another flag kick only to head against the left-hand post with McKeown beaten.
Green should have made it three in the final minute of regulation time when Dyer put him in the clear but he tried to lob McKeown and his attempt was easily saved.
There were five minutes of time added on but Mansfield negotiated it with few problems.
Mansfield: Marriott, Naylor, Futcher, Sutton, O'Neill, Todd, Murray, Worthington, Meikle (Connor 55), Green, Dyer. Subs not used: Redmond, Riley, Stevenson, Bolland.
Grimsby: McKeown, Wood (Silk 88), Kempson, Garner, Ridley, Coulson, Church, Disley, Eagle (Makofo 79), Hearn, Duffy (Elding 67). Subs not used: Artus, Pearson.
Referee: Rob Merchant (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 2,982 (589 visitors).
thefishy.co.uk, By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY threw away a half time lead at Mansfield yesterday, conceding two set piece goals in the second half to send over 600 away fans back disappointed. It had all looked so promising for the Mariners after a great first half displayed crowned by Coulson's long range strike,
However after the break Mansfield upped the tempo of the game and Town spent long periods of the game defending. With a fussy referee giving set pieces away like a metronome and Town's poor record defending free kicks and corners there was a sense of inevitability about the Stags goals. The first came from a free kick, admittedly from a stunning strike by Mansfield's O'Neil (although there were questions about McKeown's positioning). But the winner from a corner was thoroughly Town-esque, as poor marking gave Connor a free header to put the home side in front.
Town had time to pull the game level, which might have been a fair result, but never looked particularly likely to score with Mansfield pressing for a third, and in fact only poor finishing stopped the home side going 3-1 up.
Town made two changes for the trip to Mansfield, neither of them forced. Makofo was surprisingly dropped on the left wing for Eagle, while Garner was preferred in central defence to Pearson.
With all the recent rain conditions were very slippery and it was also dark - the floodlights were needed very early in the match.
Town started very strongly (Duffy could have scored in the opening minute had he been quicker to react to a good cross by Eagle) and looked like the home side for most of the first half, passing the ball around well, and often looking dangerous when they attacked. Mansfield did threaten on occasion, but Town's dominance restricted the Stags mainly to attacks on the break.
The Mariners, backed by a vociferous away support, deservedly took the lead on 32 minutes with a solo goal by Coulson. The Town winger found himself in a bit of space and launched a dipping swirling shot that bamboozled the 'keeper. Marriott managed to make some contact with the ball but couldn't stop it from going in the net.
Mansfield were almost level shortly when the ball broke from a corner to Meikle, who lashed the shot just wide of the post. Shortly afterwards Disley hacked down a Mansfield player and was booked, then Mansfield won a free kick on the edge of the box. O'Neil's shot came crashing off the crossbar but the follow up shot was collected by McKeown.
Town fans thought they had gone 2-0 up but a Duffy "goal" was disallowed for a foul (it was) on the 'keeper in the build up.
The game totally changed in the second half because Mansfield suddenly became the dominant side and Grimsby had to adopt a more defensive role. Town generally defended well, Bradley Wood and Kempson both making telling challenges in the box. However with the referee pulling up any infringement and also booking players from both sides for the slightest excuse (Eagle was booked for taking a free kick too quickly when we were generally time wasting whenever we could!), it was likely that the game would hinge on either a set piece or a sending off.
Town's talisman Duffy was replaced on 72 minutes, which proved to be the turning point of the game. The former Stag, who before he left fell out with a section of the Mansfield crowd, was public enemy No 1 with the home supporters, and he was jeered off as he limped out of the game.
The first Mansfield goal came from a stunning free kick about 25 yards out. O'Neil blasted it past the wall and McKeown. Mansfield went close from another kick shortly afterwards, McKeown unconvincingly fumbling it over the bar for a corner when it looked catchable. From that corner (I think) Mansfield went ahead. Nobody had picked up the substitute Connor on the far post who had a simple free header.
Mansfield were closer to extending their lead in the remaining minutes of formal time than Town were to equalising. The ref very generously gave 5 mins of injury time (sponsored by Tesco), but they fizzled out and the opportunity was wasted.
Generally Town played well, apart from set pieces (both taking them and defending them). They dominated the first half. It's inevitable that at some point the home side will have a dominant period. Town had weathered the storm with some dogged defending. Having conceded one though (from a stunning free kick, it happens) there only looked one winner - Grimsby simply capitulated. That was probably the most disappointing thing
Grimsby Telegraph Report: Mansfield 2 Grimsby Town 1
ANOTHER subdued second-half was Grimsby Town's undoing as they slumped to a fourth away defeat of the season at Mansfield.
On a ground where they had won on their previous three visits, it had all started so well for the Mariners who looked in cruise control once Michael Coulson had given them a deserved half-time lead.
But, like Fabio Capello's England the night before, they slipped down the gears rapidly into reverse after the interval to throw away what looked like a certain win on the road – two goals in five minutes handed the Stags faithful a reason to party.
Joint boss Rob Scott called it a 'Jekyll and Hyde' display and that is a tag that has been all too synonymous with Town teams of recent years.
Braintree aside, Town have looked a lot better over 90 minutes under Scott and Paul Hurst.
But Mr Hyde reared his ugly head again at Field Mill and the sheer fact the Mariners failed to register a single shot on goal in the second period summed up Scott's assessment.
After an impressive home win over Alfreton last time out, Town had made the short tip south in confident mood.
There were two changes to the winning side, however, with former Stag Scott Garner into the defence to replace Shaun Pearson, and Rob Eagle in for Serge Makofo.
Town went straight on the attack, illustrating that confidence gained seven days earlier and Duffy could have put them ahead from a few yards had Eagle's high cross not bounced off his shins harmlessly.
The visitors kept the pressure on – a flowing move ending in the first corner on six minutes, and Anthony Church saw his header on target but simple for Alan Marriott.
The tempo remained high from the Town men in all white and they pegged Mansfield back, though Stags skipper Adam Murray began to get his foot on the ball in midfield.
Town's early domination led to frustration among the home fans who had only seen their side win twice in six Field Mill outings.
Their main ire was directed at referee Rob Merchant for what they perceived as injustice a succession of free-kicks went Town's way; in truth, they were all offences and rightly awarded to those without amber and blue-tinted glasses.
Coulson headed wide, Duffy saw a close-range header blocked, by what he thought was an arm, and Hearn hammered over from 18 yards – the chances were all Town's and the deserved lead came just after the 30-minute mark.
Coulson picked up the ball 22 yards out and cut back on his left foot to curl a peach towards the top corner.
Marriott got a hand to it at full stretch and took the pace off the shot and it looked like he had done enough until it dropped inches in front of the line and rolled in off the post; to the delayed delight of the travelling hordes from North East Lincolnshire.
Mansfield responded well and two minutes later Lindon Meikle fizzed a first-time shot from similar distance just past the post.
Craig Disley, who had received a more favourable reception then Duffy from his former fans before the game, became the villain when he was booked for arguing vehemently a decision to punish him for what was a fair tackle in the middle; he did harass referee Merchant rather loudly and that caution takes him within one of a ban.
Another strange decision on the edge of the Town box almost cost the Mariners too – Luke O'Neill's curling effort rattled the bar. It would be a warning for later in the game.
Town were denied a second within moments at the other end when the official adjudged Hearn had jumped into Marriott before Duffy rifled home; a decision almost always given in a keeper's favour in the modern game but a tad harsh.
The second half started with Mansfield looking to get level quickly and the next goal would be key.
Loan striker Matt Green got in behind after a Garner lapse but his claims for a penalty were rightly waved away after a strong, but fair, shoulder barge from Bradley Wood.
Anthony Elding replaced Duffy on 67 minutes; the former Stag could be happy with his display that showed effort at both ends.
The noise level subsided as Town fans began to bite their nails and home supporters wondered if it wasn't their team's day.
But that was all about to change thanks to young full-back O'Neill.
After Darran Kempson had conceded a needless free-kick 30 yards out on 72 minutes, O'Neill adjusted his sights from the first half and sent a stunning free-kick over the Town wall and flying into the top corner with McKeown helpless.
The crowd were suddenly in good voice again and sensed a turnaround.
Town were on the back foot now as O'Neill saw another wicked free-kick wisely tipped over by McKeown.
But, five minutes after the first goal, Mansfield completed that turnaround as substitute Paul Connor got on the end of another superb set-piece from O'Neill to head home.
Fine delivery though it was, Town's bosses will be disappointed Connor was allowed to find space inside the six-yard box so comfortably.
It was nearly worse too as another O'Neill delivery saw Futcher send a header off the angle of post and bar.
Then, it needed some smart keeping from McKeown to deny Green as he raced clear to try and chip the advancing stopper after a Dyer through-ball sliced open and exposed back-line committed forward.
Town plugged away but failed to make any impact going forward, the introductions of Elding and Serge Makofo having little effect.
And by the end they were left to trudge off wondering where it all went wrong.
For once, Field Mill turned out to be more 'Field of Nightmares' than dreams and it was a script with an unhappy ending all of their own devising
Stags fan view: Richard Eldridge, 34
WITH the weather in stark contrast to seven days previous, I anticipated a tricky game on a wet surface.
After an even start to the first half, it was disappointing to see Grimsby improve, before taking the lead. Michael Coulson unleashed an impressive curling shot that Alan Marriott appeared to have tipped around the post. The ball trickled agonisingly over the line though.
Stags looked to respond immediately, with Lindon Meikle's powerful shot flashing past the far post at pace, before Luke O'Neill crashed a free kick against the crossbar.
The start to the second half was scrappy, with the flow of the game not helped by a string of over officious, and at times baffling, refereeing decisions. Undeterred, Stags increased their influence on the game. There was more urgency to our play and the persistence paid off with O'Neill curling a powerful free kick into the top corner of the net from a full 30 yards.
This lifted the atmosphere in Field Mill, and prompted a frenetic period of play. O'Neill once again provided the inspiration, with his pinpoint corner picking out Paul Connor to head the winning goal.
I left the game delighted at the turnaround, especially as I think we'd have lost this game in the past few seasons.
Another tough game awaits the Stags now as in-form Southport, having won their last three games without conceding, are the visitors to Field Mill on Saturday. I'm confident that we'll extend our latest unbeaten run though!
Latest | October 2011