AFC Mansfield were the visitors for our first League outing in 17-days. This period has seen the Owls record excellent progress in both FA Cup and FA Trophy. Therefore, despite starting the night bottom of the table, confidence was still high amongst the faithful.
An unchanged starting XI from the victory over Mossley was announced by management duo Marcus Newell and Dave Smith, as follows:
Goal: Dylan Parkin
Defence: Sam Topliss, Oli Donald, Matt Bloomer, Paul Walker
Midfield: Lewis Collins, Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain), Jon Oglesby
Attack: Josh Batty, Brody Robertson
Subs: Tim Lowe, Laurence McKay, Connor Southern, Danny North, Luke Aldrich
The wind was a factor in a cagey opening that saw little worthwhile goalmouth action, with a robust approach from the visitors largely nullifying the Owls more skilful game. On the quarter hour though, successive corners were forced and Robertson shot over.
Robertson was again involved when fed in by good play from Collins but he screwed his effort wide, Then a pot-shot from a free-kick fully 30 yards out by Batty flew too high.
As the half moved towards its conclusion, it looked as though Clee’s patient play would be rewarded. A sweeping team move reached Oglesby on the edge of the six-yard box. The in-form winger seemed certain to open the scoring but, under pressure from a defender, he could not keep the ball the right side of the crossbar.
This proved to be an important miss as, on the stroke of the interval, our old nemesis Kieran Wells gave the visitors the edge. A break down the right and a cross was volleyed in by the much-travelled striker.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 AFC Mansfield 1 (Wells 45+1)
Danny North replaced Craig Disley and the Owls started the half by applying increasing pressure to the Bulls’ rearguard.
There was a strong appeal for a penalty on 55 minutes when Robertson was bundled to the floor but, despite home protests, the referee waved it away. It came as no surprise when the equaliser finally came just before the hour. Seconds after a Batty effort had shaken the bar, Lewis Collins was on hand to stroke the ball into the corner from 18 yards.
Clee were now dominant and it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before a deserved lead was gained. Not to be however as, after the Owls yet again tested the strength of the woodwork, the visitors regained the initiative after 70 minutes.
A long throw from the right was flicked in by the merest of touches at the near post. To the naked eye, it looked as though it could have been an own-goal but Jordan Annable was more than happy to accept the plaudits.
The Owls responded positively and were level within 5 minutes. Clever hold-up play by Robertson allowed him to find man-of-the-match (as selected by our generous sponsors Arundel Kerr Produce Limited) Lewis Collins in a yard of space. The midfielder made no mistake to guide home his second.
We were now braced for a grandstand finish from Clee but incredibly, on 78 minutes, the defence was breached for a third time. Charlie Dawes was allowed too much time and he gleefully finished to give a committed but limited Bulls’ outfit another lead to defend.
Tim Lowe came on for Matt Bloomer with 6 left on the watch, as the Owls surged forward time and again to try to retrieve the deficit. They were rewarded on 86 minutes when Brody Robertson broke loose and slid the ball under the advancing keeper.
Five added minutes were indicated and Clee camped out in the visitors’ half. However, the winner would not come and the search for a first Evostik East win at New Linden goes on.
FT Cleethorpes Town 3 (Collins 59, 75, Robertson 86) AFC Mansfield 3 (Wells 45+1, Annable 70, Dawes 78) Attendance: 263
First the positive, we score plenty of goals!!
Not going to dwell too long on the negative but, as you know I like my stats, here is one to chew over in the next few days. It may give an indication of the problems we have…
2017/18 we conceded 3 goals on 7 occasions (in 52 competitive matches)
2018/19 7 times but in just 14 games so far
Anyway, onwards to Saturday and a big FA Cup game. Guiseley, from the National North, come calling as we venture into the Third Round Qualifying for the first time. So, come down to New Linden and witness a spot of Owls’ history.
I am delighted to say that the Club has elected to reward its loyal fans by keeping the usual admission prices:
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!