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Stalemate at the Mill

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 22/03/2023

IN December this fixture was cancelled due to a frozen pitch at Mansfield's Field Mill. Things are better now. Our cup exploits are over but a great deal of credit is due to the players, management and all involved with our club for getting us so far and, let's not forget, into the EFL itself.

Prior to Brighton, we even had two victories which leave us in 15th place and safe. Mansfield are in a disappointing 8th, given the expectations. This is a team of whom great things were foreseen, in particular after manager Nigel Clough came along, but it seems to be a case of mediocrity and underachievement. With games in hand, they were looking to propel themselves into the play-off positions, while Town were just looking to finish the season positively.

Town's team today was: Crocombe - Maher, Waterfall, Smith - Emmanuel, Holohan, Morris, Glennon - McAtee, Lloyd - Taylor. The five changes were expected as Town looked to regroup after Brighton and rest some players. Encouragingly, it still looked a strong side. Mr Hurst has done well to bring in back-up players who can fit in and compete. Town wore their traditional black and white kit on this windy evening.

Both sides started with intent but although not mistake-free Town created the better chances, creating a number of opportunities. A flick from Lloyd saw McAtee racing away after 3 minutes but the shot was saved. Maher then turned after McAtee beat his man, but the shot this time was wide, with Lloyd unable to connect at the far post. A nice back flick by Lloyd led to a Town corner but Waterfall messed up his shot. Waterfall did better with a strong header from a corner but Pym was in a good position to save it. A brilliant turn by McAtee on 20 minutes was followed with a great chip, which rebounded off the angle of the crossbar and post. Mansfield weren't offering much, but did have an opportunity on 24 minutes when Waterfall fouled Keillor-Dunn just outside the box. Keillor-Dunn's resultant curled effort was well wide. Mansfield had a better spell and on 35 minutes Morris did outstandingly well to cut out the advancing Hewitt. Town got back into it, and a sublime ball from Emmanuel on 39 minutes found Smith who took too long to control it before McAtee had a shot blocked and Waterfall couldn't get in first to finish. Once again the best chances fell to Town's defenders who were unable to capitalise where players like Lloyd and Taylor might have done better. As the half came to an end, McAtee had two good chances but the first one was wasted as he attempted two step overs after being supplied by Glennon, who then again was the provider after good work Holohan. This time McAtee slipped in the box at the crucial moment. Although the game was goalless at half time, Town looked sharp and the performance was encouraging so far.

Town started the second half by winning a corner. A good shot by Morris was blocked, than a strong Holohan volley from 25 yards went just wide. Mansfield countered and won a free-kick on the edge of the box when Maher tripped the advancing Oates and was booked. Boateng's free kick struck Waterfall and went out for a corner. Waterfall was then saviour, blocking Akins's shot as the home side swept forward. Mansfield had noticeably stepped up their intensity level, and were putting Town under pressure, Smith made a good block before Emmanuel conceded a corner. Town did break on 67 minutes. Lloyd ran forward but Taylor failed to anticipate the pass. It was then Mansfield's turn to break as Bowery ran clear after a Holohan error. Crocombe pushed the shot away, enough for Akins to be unable to reach it. Clifton replaced Taylor and had a rare shot on 74 minutes as Town struggled. Moments later Town survived when a move between Keillor-Dunn, Akins and Oates ended with the latter's shot being deflected off Maher's legs. Clifton's appearance had seen an improvement in Town's productivity, and he was instrumental in an attack on 77 minutes. McAtee took too much time however as he attempted to balance himself and get on his right foot. Emmanuel took over and won a corner, which sailed out of play. On 72 minutes O'Neill and Khan came on for McAtee and Lloyd. Town were more in the game again now, but Mansfield continued to press, winning two corners with 5 minutes left. Holohan was then dispossessed but Keillor-Dunn's shot was woefully high. With Town trying and getting nowhere, and Mansfield lacking in the quality department, the game was heading to stalemate and so it proved with the final score at: Mansfield 0, Grimsby 0.

Town struggled in the second half and only improved when Clifton came on. In spite of their second half pressure, Mansfield were uninspiring and only managed one shot on target. Both sides showed the intent of doing more than grinding out a result but that's what happened, and all Town achieved at the end of it was to stay in 15th place in the table.

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