Match report: Mansfield Town 2 Grimsby Town 0
GRIMSBY Town lost back to back league games for the first time this season when they went down 2-0 at promotion rivals Mansfield Town last night.
Two second half goals – the second a stunning strike from Adam Chapman – was enough to hand the Stags a crucial three points in the Blue Square Bet Premier title race.
Shaun Pearson returned from injury to regain his place in the heart of defence, with Tom Naylor being pushed up to partner Craig Disley in midfield instead of Andi Thanoj.
Elsewhere, Sam Hatton came in for Bradley Wood, with Jamie Devitt replacing Joe Colbeck, while new signing Dougie Wilson was named among the substitutes.
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Town started brightly, pinning Mansfield in their own half in the opening exchanges, but when Lindon Miekle found space on the right, his pull-back fell to Matt Green.
However, the livewire striker couldn't connect properly and his weak effort bobbled harmlessly back to James McKeown.
Town fought back, and won the game's first corner in the 11th minute.
When that was played short, Devitt jinked inside and laid the ball off for Disley to fire in a wicked strike that Alan Marriot found too hot to handle in the hosts' goal.
Hannah was first on the scene to pounce on the rebound, however, the frontman was flagged offside.
But the Stags were showing plenty of the football that has seen them win their last seven league games.
A flowing move two minutes later saw the ball swept out to Colin Daniel who shaped a fine cross that just evaded the Stags' front line.
At the other end, Hannah showed good strength to hold off his marker and drive at the host's back-four, and with Devitt bursting into the box on his left, the former Bradford man opted to shoot with Marriot doing well to palm away.
Mansfield, like Kidderminster on Saturday, carried plenty of threat on the break.
And when that Town attack broke down, the ball was worked to the right before being swung into the far post where Daniel produced a looping header that drifted just wide of McKeown's post.
In the 19th minute, Chapman received a booking for cynically pulling back Devitt as the Irishman looked to burst through the middle.
When the resulting free-kick was blocked, the tricky winger won the Mariners another corner which Naylor, on his return to One Call Stadium, headed over.
Minutes later, the Derby midfielder was in action once again. He picked up a loose ball, 25-yards out, and struck a dipping shot that Marriot fumbled unconvincingly.
Hannah was then presented with a chance on the half hour mark when the ball bobbled through to him in space, however, John Dempster got back well to block his left-footed effort.
Two minutes before the break, Hannah again turned Dempster on the touchline with a clever flick, but the frontman was hauled back, and the Stags defender went into the book.
Hatton followed him just seconds later for a foul in the middle of the park.
That flurry of cards was the last meaningful action of the first 45 as the referee brought a well-fought and entertaining first half to a close.
Disley was replaced by Thanoj after taking a knock in the first half but other than that, Town were unchanged as visitors got the game back underway, with Pearson wearing the captain's armband.
And when Town won a free-kick just over half-way, Hatton hit a free-kick that was drilled in low and hard. When that took a deflection, Marriot sprang low to parry it away.
When the resulting corner was again worked short, Thanoj played a clever one-two with Devitt and the Irishman powered in a cross that Pearson headed over.
Minutes later, Naylor danced through midfield to the edge of the box where he was brought down to win the visitors a dangerous free-kick but Hatton could only drill into the wall.
But on 64 minutes, the hosts won a corner, and with Miller on the sideline after receiving treatment, Mansfield took full advantage.
The set-piece was swung into the back post and substitute Matt Rhead got up highest to power home with the Stags first effort of the half.
The goal was a sucker-punch for Town, who had equipped themselves well and had forced much of the play. But undeterred, they pushed on and after a decent move, Devitt ballooned over from just inside the box.
Buoyed by their goal, the Stags pushed on and sub Louis Briscoe won another corner that Thomas did well to block on the line, not knowing that the referee had already blown for an infringement.
Hannah lifted over an overhead kick after Thomas' cross and was replaced by Richard Brodie.
Town had equipped themselves well but, with eight minutes to go, the Stags broke and the ball was worked up to Green. He laid the ball back to Adam Champan who caught a stunning left-footed piledriver that arrowed past McKeown into his top corner to kill the game off as a contest.
It was perhaps a little harsh on the Mariners, but after losing two on the bounce for the first time this season, Rob Scott and Paul Hurst must now regroup their squad for the visit of Cambridge United on Saturday.
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