Question of the WeekWho should start in goal?
|Our pier is better!|
By: Andrew Doherty
FRIDAY night football is a thing in Canada. So too was it once in Southend, today's opponents. In fact, I remember going there one Friday night in November 1979 to watch us lose 0 - 1.
It's our turn now, but only because of the TV cameras. Let's hope the TV station aren't expecting razzle-dazzle tonight. Our form has been rank of late with four straight defeats but we can at least consider ourselves fortunate compared to fellow seasiders Southend, whose season so far has been a fiasco.
Reflecting on last Saturday's performance, Mr Hurst's initial comment was that we weren't winning the headers. What he didn't say was whether he thought this was because of a technical shortfall in attacking the ball, poor delivery or just a failure to compete. The latter two are the most likely, I'd say. What has become striking is the lack of leadership on the pitch to address these issues, especially when we get stuck in a rut. We've seen this plenty of times before. It's no use going round blaming 18- and 19-year-olds. Whoever is in the team should be part of the team collective and the taking of responsibility, and I've not been seeing that in all areas. Weaknesses are to be expected at this level, and we're lucky to have the likes of Clifton and McAtee when he's fit. Town's line-up this evening was: McKeown - Efete, Waterfall, Pearson, Crookes - Hunt, Fox, Coke - Sousa, Clifton - Taylor. Had we learned lessons as Mr Hurst promised we needed to? It was time to find out.
After 2 minutes, Town attacked on the left. Fox did well to keep the ball in play. Clifton crossed. Taylor attacked the ball. Southend cleared. Hunt headed the ball back. Sousa battled to win the ball, which ran to Taylor who struck it home from 6 yards. 1 - 0 to Town, who continued to attack for the next few minutes. After a sluggish start, Southend proceeded to dominate, starting with a free kick on the edge of Town's box on 8 minutes after a Waterfall foul. McKeown had to make a good save from a Walsh shot, then Waterfall conceded another foul on 12 minutes. Southend were now looking positive. Town were making mistakes and had lost the initial spark. Town won a corner on 20 minutes. Hunt tried a training ground move which resulted in a spectacular misunderstanding. Southend had a chance on 27 minutes when Brunt sent a defence-splitting pass to Murphy who looked to be tripped as he went round McKeown but fortunately was offside. The game became more even but while there was some interplay from midfield, Town struggled again in the quality department. Good work on 29 minutes led to a one-two between Fox and the lively Sousa who broke through and struck his shot into the side netting. Shortly afterwards Efete found Clifton who clipped a shot from the right just wide of the post. On 31 minutes Efete found himself on his own at the other end and did well to repel the dangerous Murphy. Town struggled to clear the resultant corner. Clifton had a long-range effort, and a Sousa cross led to a Taylor header which was comfortably collected by the Southend goalkeeper. After a dream start, the yellow and blue kitted men of Southend posed a constant threat before Town won more possession and battled back into the game. Although winning 1 - 0 at this stage, Town weren't going to be frightening anyone with this performance.
Town attacked the Pontoon end for the second half. Sousa, who had now switched to the left, was Town's sharpest player and did well to get a cross in on 50 minutes. Three minutes later a good ball by Fox found Clifton who was unable to turn the defender on the edge of the box. A good move two minutes later found the onrushing Sousa who ballooned his shot high and wide. This was more promising from Town who at least showed intent. Southend responded when Brunt had a fierce shot which went just over the bar. Fox then found Taylor who set up Sousa on the left. This time Sousa's shot was better and bounced off the outstretched leg of Hobson. On 63 minutes great work by Waterfall stopped danger man and serial moaner Murphy before the ball returned to the other end where Fox's snap shot ran wide of the post. Town looked briefly as if they were starting to make things happen with Fox and Hunt orchestrating things in midfield. On 65 minutes Town broke. Sousa ran on and supplied Clifton with a short pass but Clifton couldn't get his foot around the ball with a tight angle. We then saw the other side of Sousa as he belted a cross to no-one across the box. Southend won a free-kick after Coke fouled Murphy 30 yards out but the delivery was terrible. Southend had a short spell of pressure but even at this stage with 15 minutes left the game was dying a death as the crowd watched increasingly lacklustre fare. A lot of effort was being put in for no end product. Town's fans were momentarily uplifted by the sight of McAtee who came on for Hunt on 77 minutes. McAtee immediately made an impact, moving the ball around and on 81 minutes worked with Sousa to win Town a corner. McAtee's delivery found the head of Pearson, whose attempt grazed the top of the crossbar. Waterfall then saved the day at the other end as Southend's substitute Egbri shook off Crookes. But nothing happened. The orchestra was now a cacophony. Town continued to try but their cumbersome moves broke down routinely and Southend's goalkeeper Arnold remained untroubled. Southend were no better. As four minutes were added, Sousa came off to great appreciation for his hard-working performance, being replaced by Revan but the game had long since died. So the second minute goal was the deciding moment, and the game finished: Grimsby Town 1, Southend United 0.
This would have been a dire game for any neutral watching it. It was hard labour for Town fans, and more so for supporters of Southend. After a promising start neither side demonstrated the skill or capability to impose themselves. From the Town perspective, we can say we were more focused at the start, and the defence did their job well but, all in all, this was an eternal struggle. With difficult fixtures coming up against Solihull, Boreham Wood, Dagenham and Chesterfield, we are going to find out what Town are made of. For now, at least, this victory was very welcome, stopped the rot and keeps us close to the top of the table.
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