Mansfield win may kick-start Grimsby Town's season
By Lee Jones ...
CONFIDENCE and belief are two of the buzz-words we've heard repeatedly coming out of Blundell Park over recent weeks.
The bosses and their players have taken every opportunity to tell us those ingredients are all that have been missing for Grimsby Town this season.
Having seen the Mariners throw away points against Stockport and then fail to break down Nuneaton, it's fair to say the suggestion has been met with a large dollop of scepticism.
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Town supporters I've spoken to have scoffed at the idea it could be the sole problem for a side that couldn't win – or even create a half-decent scoring opportunity.
But Messrs Scott and Hurst – and their squad – would have been within their rights to feel slightly smug on Monday evening.
For, the Mariners' 4-1 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Mansfield could not have illustrated their point better.
After a cagey opening half hour, a moment of inspiration from the gifted Frankie Artus opened the scoring, lifted the crowd, and may well have kick-started Town's entire season.
Suddenly there was a spring in the step of the players and each one – to a man – appeared to find an extra yard of pace.
That came in particularly handy for Aswad Thomas. The full-back seemed to have jets in his heels as he flew past Mansfield's Jake Speight – no slouch himself – and earn the penalty that brought goal number two.
Greg Pearson, who had failed to impress in his earlier Town outings, slotted the spot-kick home and immediately grew three inches taller.
The striker's display after the break, capped by a clever headed second, was as good as you could wish to see at this level.
While, the afternoon's other scorer, Joe Colbeck, was similarly transformed.
Suddenly, the winger was flying past his full-back at every opportunity and linking up superbly with the front men.
Crucially, there was also some end product from the former Hereford man, as his crashing finish for the hosts' third showed.
It was manna from heaven for the BP crowd who, after the home frustrations of the previous week, were enjoying every minute.
Even a late consolation from the Stags' portly substitute Matthew Rhead couldn't spoil the home fans' fun.
True, the visitors were poor throughout and lacked any invention.
But for the first time this season Town's solid defence was complemented by some genuinely exciting attacking play.
There was movement up front and enough of the ball coming through midfield to ensure it was worthwhile.
Colbeck used his pace to charge at his marker down one flank, while Artus cut inside or used Thomas' overlapping skills on the other, to pose plenty of problems.
The cliché 'one swallow doesn't make a summer' was trotted out after the final whistle.
That's very true and there are still plenty of areas of improvement needed if the Mariners are to mount a promotion challenge.
Can Town do it on a consistent basis? Can they win away from home? Will Andy Cook's first goal give him a similar confidence-boost? Is there enough invention in the Mariners' midfield?
There are certainly lots of questions to be answered, and we'll discover more at Hereford this afternoon.
But, for now, it's a start – and a very good one too.