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Archived News from March 2008

24th March 2008 10:13

Grimsby win leaves Mansfield still struggling
By David McVay
Last Updated: 24/03/2008

Mansfield Town (0) 1 Grimsby Town (1) 2

As the BBC would concur through gritted teeth, Sir Alex Ferguson is fairly selective about who he talks to these days.

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All the more astonishing, then, that the Manchester United manager should pick up the phone recently and ring a complete stranger who was burdened with a few unwanted problems.

The recipient of this unlikely pro-active Samaritans service was Stephen Booth, the Mansfield Town chief executive, who had just announced that the League Two club had parted company with manager Billy Dearden.

"I was absolutely gratified that Sir Alex had actually given me a call. He doesn't know me from Adam," Booth said. Whatever the motive for contact, and there is usually an ulterior one in such cases, Ferguson cautioned against radical change and stressed the virtues of experience when filling the vacancy.

In the event, continuity has prevailed with Paul Holland stepping up from assistant to caretaker manager, at least until after today's game at Bury. Sadly, the continuity has extended to results, as Mansfield win away with surprising ease but are still searching for a first home victory since Boxing Day after a 2-1 defeat to Grimsby Town at ice station Field Mill.

Booth admits that 'Dutch', as Holland was inevitably nicknamed, is the players' choice, and performances have improved since he took charge three games ago, but the uncertainty about the club's future lingers on.

In a complicated, almost messy affair, Booth is the deal-broker who insists that the consortium buying out owner Keith Haslam is on the brink of finalising finances and that lawyers should conclude business this week.

News of a Tony Blair apology or permafrost in hell may break before the deal is rubber-stamped but, while Mansfield folk will not be holding their breath, Booth is adamant that local people, not property developers, will rise to power.

Somewhere in the boardroom is a sealed £1 coin, the amount Haslam paid for Mansfield umpteen years ago; that fee is sufficient to take control of the club if not the ground and surrounding land, which also belong to Haslam.

Instead, rent for the stadium will be determined by the level of football, and, with relegation looming, it seems certain that a considerable rebate will be required despite a gutsy show of endeavour from the League Two team.

The talented Peter Till, whose skills should decorate Wembley on Sunday when Grimsby play MK Dons in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final, squeezed the visitors ahead before a smart turn and finish by Nathan Arnold deservedly levelled. Phil Barnes then denied the same player with a fine save before Danny Boshell twice headed attempts by John Mullins off the line, one against the crossbar, in a frantic period.

Saviour at one end, Boshell then arrowed a rising shot into the top corner from 20 yards, space created by Till's trickery, to nourish Grimsby play-off hopes.

"Going down with the Wrexham," was the less than charitable chant from away fans, a fitting riposte to the Beatles' Yellow Submarine tune that had begun play. The sinking feeling persists in north Nottinghamshire.

Match details

Mansfield Town (4-4-2): White; Mullins, Baptiste, Buxton, Jelleyman; Hamshaw (Louis 83), Dawson, D'Laryea (Horlock 77), W Atkinson (Wainwright 66); Boulding, Arnold.
Subs: Muggleton (g), Briggs.
Booked: Jelleyman.
Goal: Arnold 49.
Grimsby Town (4-3-1-2): Barnes; Clarke, R Atkinson (Bennett 65), Fenton, Newey; Bolland (Jones 65), Boshell, Hegarty; Till; North (Hunt 46), Butler.
Subs: Montgomery (g), Taylor.
Booked: Fenton.
Goals: Till 32, Boshell 74.
Referee: A Hall (West Midlands).


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