Andy Cook’s overdue first goals for Mansfield Town in last weekend’s gritty draw at Forest Green could have far more benefit than earning John Dempster’s men an unlikely point.
After an under-par first hour performance and trailing 2-0, the Stags looked down and out against high-flying Rovers at the New Lawn.
But Cook, a half-time substitute, finally showed Stags fans what all the fuss was about in the summer when he signed as he bagged two goals and saw the keeper turn away what looked like a winner in what would have been an even bigger fairytale day for him.
Cook’s goalscoring record at clubs like Barrow and Tranmere was sensational and his 18 goals at Walsall in a relegation season last time around showed that, despite some poor players around him, he was still able to excel and rise above mediocrity.
When he and Nicky Maynard were signed this summer, it looked odds on that would be the club’s new strikeforce for the season, given Maynard’s fine record at Bury last season too.
But football rarely works out like you think it will and an early injury problem for Cook coupled with a sudden return to top form of 2017/18 top scorer Danny Rose saw Cook sidelined and only able to make the odd appearance from the sub’s bench.
That meant he lacked match sharpness and when chances did fall his way he missed them and did nothing for his hopes of forcing a first League Two start.
With his size and aggression there is no doubt Cook is every inch the Plan B that David Flitcroft lacked over the past two seasons and that the club have lacked since big Matt Rhead left the building.
But Cook is here to be a Plan A and with players like Rose, Maynard, Otis Khan and CJ Hamilton’s know-on on profiting from second balls, plus Cook also knowing where the net is, his emergence at Forest Green could prove to be a turning point in the season as Stags aim to roar up the table.
Cook now has some growing confidence, two goals under his belt, a little more match sharpness and the bit between his teeth.
He has been patient, if frustrated, but this definitely could be Cook’s time and his former club Walsall know what that could mean to them this weekend.