Owls fly to comfortable win


The Owls climbed to 8th in the table with a resounding 3-0 victory in Nottinghamshire. Goals from Craig Disley, Oli Donald and Jon Oglesby were more than enough to reignite Clee’s play-off challenge.

Dave Smith recalled Scott Vernon to the number 9 shirt, with Josh Batty dropping to the bench. There was also a place amongst the substitutes for Jack Richardson, who returned after a mandatory break caused by concussion. The side lined up as follows:

Goal: Theo Richardson

Defence: Tim Lowe, Paul Walker, Oli Donald, Sam Topliss

Midfield defence: Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain)

Midfield attack: Brody Robertson, Lewis Collins, Jon Oglesby

Attack: Scott Vernon

Subs: Josh Batty, Danny North, Luke Mascall, Jack Richardson, Mark Gray

Pleasant sunshine greeted the Owls’ fans, who once again had travelled in decent numbers, with around a quarter of the spectators journeying from Lincolnshire. However, there was a strong wind throughout the Evostik East fixture and, allied to an occasionally bouncy surface, it was not the easiest conditions for the players.

Not that appeared to make much difference to the Owls through the opening stages, as they moved ahead as early as the 5th minute. Craig Disley was slotted through and, with the Bulls’ defence static, the midfielder calmly shot low beyond White to record his first goal in the blue and black of Clee.

Just the tonic needed for the visitors, but the ensuing period turned scrappy in the blustery breeze. Nevertheless, it was always the Owls who looked the more likely and Vernon showed dogged persistence to create a chance on 16 minutes. The big striker’s compass was out though, as his chipped effort landed well wide.

Shortly afterwards, Robertson struck the base of the upright after a melee in the area. Mansfield were strangely subdued, but gave a reminder of their good recent form when Fearon sliced wildly at a decent opportunity.

With their dominance, the Owls would have been disappointed to have only been a goal clear after 30 minutes. However, the fans were soon on their feet to celebrate a second.

After another scramble in which Collins had gone agonisingly close, Oli Donald was on hand to acrobatically finish from 6 yards. There was certainly a suspicion of offside, but the assistant’s flag stayed down and the score now more accurately reflected the balance of play.

The Bulls were rocking and Vernon shot wide in the 36th minute, before Lowe had a 25-yard drive deflected onto the top of the crossbar. There was still time before the break for both Donald and Robertson to nearly extend the advantage. As the whistle sounded, Clee could be well satisfied with their work. Indeed, it had been one of the best opening 45s of the campaign at an away ground.

HT AFC Mansfield 0 Cleethorpes Town 2 (Disley 5, Donald 32)

No doubt with some choice words ringing in their ears, Mansfield had an immediate opening to reduce their arrears. Richardson, who had mainly been a virtual spectator in the first half, showed his quality by getting down low to push away a Dawes shot. From the resultant corner, Fearon headed into the side-netting.

This bright start proved to be a false dawn for the Bulls though, as Clee quickly annexed a third. Some poor defending failed to clear and Jon Oglesby had plenty of time to dispatch the ball under White.

With the points now in safe keeping, all three subs were used in the next phase of the game. Paul Walker, Craig Disley and Lewis Collins were all withdrawn, with Mark Gray, Jack Richardson and  Danny North entering the action.

It was essentially one-way traffic still and the Owls had a number of chances to add to their total. Vernon watched in disbelief as his firm header crashed back from the underside of the bar. Then, substitute Gray rose highest from a corner, but his direction was a foot too high.

Mansfield were struggling to make any impression on a disciplined Owls. However, the Bulls did briefly get forward in the 77th minute and Topliss, who had been excellent in this usual unassuming manner, made a fantastic saving block to deny Fearon.

The Owls continued to press for a deserved fourth to put the icing on a fine display. Yet again though, the woodwork saved the Bulls from further misery. After some wing wizardry from the unlikely figure of Gray, central defender Donald was left to rue his luck as the ball bounced away to safety.

Mansfield’s goal was leading a charmed life and, in the final stages, White tipped away a Vernon header before captain Flett drove over from 22-yards. That was to be the final action of a very pleasing afternoon and Clee left the arena to warm applause from an appreciative away following.

FT AFC Mansfield 0 Cleethorpes Town 3 (Disley 5, Donald 32, Oglesby 48) Attendance: 109

A very good performance indeed!

In fact, I would class it as our best away day of the season in the league. Despite excellent wins at Belper, Morpeth and Carlton, this was the first time that I thought we were dominant for the full 90 minutes. Mansfield were flattered by the final score and it could easily have been 5 or 6. Highly impressive against a team who had won their last 2.

Tricky to pick a man-of-the-match but, on balance, I gave it to Sam Topliss. As I said in my report, the left-back’s display was “unassuming”. This is very much meant as a compliment, Sam goes about his work in a highly effective manner and is enjoying a fine debut season for the Owls – well played!

Up to 8th now but still seven points shy of the play-offs, with a game in hand. Plenty of hope though that we can continue to press for the top 5 well into April. Back-to-back fixtures against Pickering Town upcoming and, realistically, we need to win them both – over to you lads!!


Saturday 23rd February – 3pm

Pickering Town – Evostik East

Linden Club, Clee Road, Grimsby, DN32 8QL


Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2


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