The Grimsby Town FC

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Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game

A Fishy Tale
A Fishy Tale

Desperate Footballers Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 30/01/2006

ANDY and I analysed the Blundell Park pitch. It looked dry and patchy. With the wind, the cold, hard ground, and every chance of the ball bouncing uncontrollably, there was every prospect of a poor game. But we were here, doing our duty.

The tide was in, so there was plenty of entertainment on the river at least. There was a delicate aroma of fish in the air. The game started.

First half. A Peterborough attack at the Pontoon end led to the ball bouncing around and off the back of Parky’s head. A cross came in and was cut out by Rob Jones. On 6 minutes Town got upfield and Reddy tried a snap shot which resulted in a corner. In the meantime a red KESS cargo ship on the river appeared to be carrying out a u-turn before turning full circle towards the port of Grimsby. Peterborough won a free kick on 9 minutes. A dangerous low shot was cleared. The ball came back but Jones the Head cleared again. Parky showed skill on 10 minutes, and sent a cross pass to Cohen who spotted Macca on the right as did the Peterborough defence. Cohen cleverly turned and drilled in a low left footed shot but to the right of the goal. Sloppy mop-up work by Mildy led to Peterborough winning a corner on 11 minutes. Nothing came of it. A nasty tackle on Newey on 14 after work by Parky led to a free-kick but nothing else. Parky was heavily involved and worked hard but couldn’t get through the defence. On 17 minutes, Paul Bolland showed the grit that Parky was missing and won a free kick. Jones the Head turned Jones the Striker, as he turned to shoot. Reddy was fouled and Town won a corner but Newey wasted it. On 21 minutes an exquisite cross ball by Junior Mendes found our new boy Curtis Woodhouse who crossed for Reddy to fire home, but good defence by Peterborough’s Arber cut it out and saved the day. This was the best chance so far in an uninspiring performance.

Woodhouse tried the same ball soon afterwards but without being as dangerous. There were signs of Woodhouse and Reddy linking up well. Bolland was fouled on 22 minutes but Newey gave Tyler in Peterborough’s goal catching practice and nothing more. Woodhouse showed authority on 25 minutes, gesticulating to Parky to get into space and the link-up caused panic in Peterborough’s defence. Corner to Town. Peterborough broke away but to no avail. Both sides were trying to work the ball upfield but without great success and certainly no result until the skilful Reddy got through into the penalty box and seeing his chance, tried to curl a left foot shot to the goalkeeper’s right. The ball ricocheted off Peterborough’s Carden, wrong footed the keeper and rolled into the net. 1-0 to Town. Within a minute, Peterborough took the ball upfield and attacked. The ball came out, and as the Peterborough forwards moved across, so did Town’s defence. Peterborough’s Gain had a clear run to the area and with Town’s defence bunched up, he slotted the ball through Mildy’s legs and into the net. 1-1. This seemed to be the signal for Town to struggle. Passes started to go astray. The momentum had been building up to the time of Town’s goal but was now inexorably lost.

Peterborough’s Crow tried a chip on 34 minutes but missed. Jones cut out a through ball on 36 minutes after a Peterborough corner. Momentary hope returned on 42 minutes when Cohen won the ball and dribbled through the defence but Reddy was offside. On Town’s part, it was now desperate, terrible, dire, awful. It was a day of adjectives. There was no pattern to the play. Cohen showed skill on the edge of the pitch but was unproductive when it came to the delivery. The game was degenerating in traditional fashion. How many times have we seen this? ‘Desperate footballers’, muttered Andy, adding ‘wasn’t that a TV programme?’ We concluded he was thinking of Desperate Housewives and Footballers’ Wives but I knew exactly what he meant. So did the rest of the increasingly frustrated crowd. Each attempt to break through looked more schoolboyish. Balls flew off legs like a pinball machine. On 45 Mendes picked up the ball but sliced wide, unable even to threaten the Posh supporters behind the goal. One minute of added time was announced. 'Thank god it's not four’ declared Andy. There was still time for excitement but at the Town end. Town cleared but Mildy was stranded off his line. With Town’s defence once again missing or on the ground from the previous attack, all Gain had to do was slot it into the empty net. The crowd went silent as Gain took careful aim and in what seemed slow motion the shot headed towards the goal and .... struck the inside of the post before crossing the goal to safety. Half-time. Misery over for a while.

First half verdict. The first half was poor. In spite of the changes to Town’s side, the outcome was the same. True, Mendes could pass well and Woodhouse looked good on the ball but less so in the air, but overall there was no pattern, and Town struggled to break through a resolute Peterborough defence. All the usual weaknesses were on display: passes going astray, Newey’s poor success rate at dead ball situations, Parky was too lightweight, Mildy’s poor clearances and the recent phenomenon of defensive lapses.

‘Are you excited?’ I asked Revis with a large hint of irony. ‘No, I’m cold’. It wasn’t cold now. It was bitter cold.

Second Half. Croft came on for Macca who had looked a bit weary and had been targeted by the Peterborough midfield. In the first minute both Town and Peterborough had a chance but we were no further forward. Parky was dispossessed again. Peterborough started to impose themselves and on 52 minutes got round the defence but the cross was cut out. On 53 minutes Reddy fell over himself in the corner. Seeking an alternative source of entertainment, or indeed any entertainment, Revis counted 13 boats on the river. Cohen showed some battle shortly afterwards and won a throw, which led to a corner.

A better corner kick from Newey was knocked out and Mendes won another one. Cohen shot over the bar. The next few minutes seemed to amount to a game of headball, ineptitude in abundance and an absence of ball control. Reddy and Parky battled to win Town a corner on 61 minutes as the ball was hoofed away by Peterborough’s defence, who were well drilled in ‘safety first’. A useful bit of work by Peterborough shortly afterwards saw Gain cross from the left. Rob Jones under no pressure, gave away a corner. A header forced Mildy to save well to his left. The crowd was getting restless, recognising that the Town were still unable to lift themselves above basic schoolboy levels of skill. On 67 minutes, Mildy cleared quickly and booted the ball to the other end where his counterpart Tyler heaved the ball over the Main Stand to clear the trouble. Gritton came on for Parky to the approval of the crowd. Woodhouse dropped back, leaving Gritton up front with Reddy. A Woodhouse jink saw Bolland take a low shot but it went just wide. Gritton almost got through on 70 minutes but the ball was returned downfield. The ball was played up the left. Town’s defence went missing once again as the ball was flicked on to Crow, who headed it into the Town net with ease. Town 1, Peterborough 2.

This simple goal seemed to come out of nowhere. Peterborough had been playing competent but fairly predictable football ‘up the channels’ but Town’s defence was in disarray. Town responded with a minor surge on Peterborough’s goal, with Reddy winning a corner. Newey swung the ball in, Bolland played it back to Newey, who found Woodhouse who composed himself and shot but Tyler saved it comfortably. Peterborough counter-attacked but Town’s defence continued to look uncomfortable. Peterborough’s Newton almost walked through the defence, Day was fouled and Gain caused Town’s defence more problems, winning a corner. Finally on 78 minutes, Reddy was put through. Tyler came out and in a 50/50 situation both went for the ball and were injured. Controversially, the play went on and Town won a corner. The game was stopped for 5 minutes. I took the opportunity to text my friend Terry in Peterborough with an update. Colour Analyst Revis suggested I type ‘2-1 to Peterborough whose goalie has been kicked in the face’. Sadly, keeper Tyler had to be stretchered off. The crowd applauded his bravery. Peterborough had no substitute keeper, so used their outfield player Richard Logan to mind the goal. A Town corner on 83 minutes was wasted as a foul was committed. Logan was put to the test on 86 when Mendes got round the defence and crossed. The ball was fumbled but Town presented no threat.

Nothing was happening up front to suggest a goal. Bolland got a low shot in on 87 minutes, but it was Peterborough who were soon back up the field again on 90 minutes. Then, just when we’d all given up in frustration, 8 minutes of added time were announced. This gave a boost to the crowd. But this meant nothing as Woodhouse crossed to no-one and Town continued to defeat themselves. On 93 minutes, Peterborough won a corner and then another one. They were making a mockery of the woeful Town. On 96 minutes, Bolland tackled a Peterborough player, causing a mass punch-up. It was all getting desperate. An off the ball skirmish involving Rob Jones gave Town a free kick and a last chance. Mildy went up. Newey played a neat chip, the ball was headed on and Town won a corner. From the resultant corner, Bolland had a shot and missed. The game was over. Hostilities continued on the pitch but the crowd was past caring. We all trudged away disconsolately and disappointed. Grimsby Town 1, Peterborough United 2.

The verdict. Town didn’t deserve anything from this game in which the overall quality was poor. We made too many mistakes and showed unsufficient skill or strategy to score and win the game. Competitive sport is about implementing the skills and tactics learnt in training, not just putting in a lot of unco-ordinated individual effort. Bolland, Cohen, Reddy and Jones put in battling performances and I thought Woodhouse showed promise. Town’s best player in my view was Junior Mendes, who gave the impression that at least he could be inventive and break a defence open, but not today. Generally, we weren’t up to it. The performance showed no composure, just desperation, for most of the match. Peterborough on the other hand were by far the better side, playing tightly, with occasional skill and operated in a disciplined fashion.

After a mad dash to Cleethorpes station, no thanks to the added time and the fact that the County Fisheries was supplying Peterborough United FC with their well-deserved tea, we just caught our train. The day improved as we devoured our fish and chips. The fact remains however that Revis and I have now endured 7 consecutive home defeats. Why do we keep going for this unmitigated gloom, agony and trauma? An appointment with the psychiatrist beckons, I think. I shall talk of freezing grimness. And of desperate footballers. I’m sure the psychiatrist will understand.

Up the Mariners.

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