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The Death of Dreams
The Death of Dreams

A Critical State of Affairs - Part 3

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 05/11/2006

THE second half started with an MK free kick outside the box, which was wasted. On 48, the game was stopped as Bore went down with what seemed to be a strain.

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This seemed to be the umpteenth time that a player had gone down - a failure in the warm-up techniques? This prompted comment from Revis: " Wouldn’t football players do better if they had an A level in drama?", was her harsh but in general true comment. On 51 minutes, MK’s McGovern picked up the ball on the left and picked out McLeod at the front of the 6 yard box with all the Town players at the back. McLeod turned and directed his header into the top left corner. It was a soft goal. Grimsby Town 0, MK Dons 1.

Town gained a corner on 54, but MK cleared with ease. Town did not look threatening. Revis commented that she felt cold. On 59 minutes, MK’s Smith slotted a neat through ball in from his own half. Newey and Fenton appeared to have Wilbraham and McLeod covered. In spite of being goal side as the ball came through, the flag stayed down and Wilbraham picked up the neatly threaded pass. He chipped the helpless Barnes from the edge of the box and scored. Grimsby Town 0, MK Dons 2.

The crowd started getting angry with the manager. Although the second goal looked well offside, the overall performance wasn’t good enough and the frustration was understandable. In an increasingly deteriorating performance, Bore showed some verve on 67 and went on a surging run but he was outnumbered. Revis yawned again. MK were starting to play some decent football. On 70, Toner won a free kick just inside the MK area, but Newey’s floated free-kick simply gave the keeper some easy catching practice. Revis came up with a positive: "I like the colour of the sky. It’s pink over there and purple over there". The sky was truly spectacular. The football wasn’t. Two ships passed each other to this glorious backdrop. On 74, McLeod had another chance from a cross but Fenton did his work and put him off his shot. A minute later, Smith won a corner for MK. The corner came in and Barnes saved a fierce header but the defence failed to mop up, which gave Wilbraham the chance to stab the ball home from within the 6 yard box. Grimsby Town 0, MK Dons 3. This was now embarrassing. On 78, a firework display started in Cleethorpes. This was the first moment of excitement for the Town fans and the display drew smiles and rapturous applause. "I’m going to stay awake and watch the firework display" announced Revis. Futility reigned as a Town corner on 81 led to nothing and on 83, Bore was replaced by North. Another little morale booster came along, as a waft of fish came into the stand. The game was all but over. Thoughts were now on hot food and warmth. Town floundered on and tried to work through the MK defence. A decent cross from Bolland was cleared, but it was then Bolland who passed to no-one. The frankly non-existent threat passed. Town just didn’t look like scoring. Merlin reminded me that the only shot we had on goal was in the 4th minute and that was it.

The announcer informed us that the crowd was 3268. That raised a cheer. We were clutching at straws now. Half of them had left in any case. Then, on 90 minutes, against all expectations, Newey put in three good crosses after determined work. Two were headed clear. The third found Ravenhill on the edge of the box. Ravenhill struck a crisp left foot volley which went flying past the goalkeeper into the left hand corner of the net. Grimsby Town 1, MK Dons 3. At last, there was something to cheer but it was too little, too late and ultimately it had no bearing on the game. The full time whistle went immediately after. Grimsby Town 1, MK Dons 3 was the final score.

Verdict. Playing well for one and a half minutes out of ninety isn’t acceptable. With Bore, Rankin and James, you’d have thought that the emphasis would have been on pace, instead of which the first part of the game was devoted to hoofing the ball in the air. It was unfortunate that James was injured, and Rankin, along with Bolland and one or two others, looked under the weather, but the subsequent tactic of quick passing smacked of panic and merely succeeded mostly in handing the ball over to MK. In the second half it got worse with desperate and aimless passes making us look like park footballers. The second MK goal was dubious, but given that we had no shots on goal between the 4th and 90th minute, we cannot complain at the result. Defensively, it is true that Fenton can head a ball, Newey can kick it, Croft can put in the odd good pass and Whittle gets in where it hurts, but collectively the fragile defence is slow and statuesque, and allows opposing players to be unmarked time after time. Opposition crosses and set pieces are a nightmare, and our defence is frequently outdone for pace and skill. Peter Bore up front put in plenty of effort and deserves honourable mention but my Man of the Match was Phil Barnes in goal who I don’t believe made a mistake in spite of being let down and exposed by the rest. In summary, this was dire, awful, rubbish and we showed very little control or direction in our play for almost the whole of the game. Where on earth do we go from here?

And so along with 3265 others, Merlin, Revis and I performed our football-critical duties. They were very arduous. Once we have got over the horror and awfulness of it all, we may rejoin the human race for some positive interaction. See you out there somewhere.

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