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Ridley: MOM
Ridley: MOM

Square Trek: Over the Border

By: Ian Townsend
Date: 09/01/2011

I'VE always been a great fan of the Principality. I think it stems from my fondness for the games of Scrabble and T.V's Countdown and the challenge of making up recognisable words from the street names without of course the assistance of vowels.

Battle bus numbers were severely down for Town's first trip "abroad" of the Conference season- perhaps a sign that the fans, if not the club, accept that four away games on the spin can put severe pressure on disposable income.

The omens were not good pre-kick off. Rumours of viruses in the camp and then the recurrence of Ademeno's injury problems suggested a difficult afternoon awaited against a team only defeated once at home all season.

Neil Woods took the decision for minimal disruption to the playing pattern as Town lined up with:

  • Kenny Arthur
  • A back four of: Wood, the passed fit Kempson, Atkinson and Ridley
  • A midfield four of: Bore, Sinclair, Cummins and Coulson
  • Up front Connell and the main pre match talking point Lee Peacock.
  • On the bench for the Mariners: Croudson, Dixon, Garner, Eagle and Hudson.

    The game began slowly, on a pitch looking heavy after snow and then overnight rain, as Town struggled to get the ball down and play their passing game.

    Chances were few although there was an air of anticipation from the travelling faithful as Town won a free kick on the diagonal about 25 yards from goal. There was to be no wonder finish though this time as Connell's free kick was headed away by a well positioned wall. The ball rebounded to him but a second effort was headed to safety.

    Gradually as the half rolled on the home side gained a modicum of control over proceedings with Town once again surrendering too much possession in the centre of the park. The game was being played far too narrowly for Town's wide players in Bore and Coulson to have any impact with the ball being constantly belted up the park for Peacock to bring down and control. Regrettably although his effort couldn't be faulted Town's front man was let down by a palpable lack of pace away from his marker and often a poor first touch.

    Defensively the Mariners were relatively sound, although a combination of poor positional play and a linesman unable to keep up with play put hearts in mouths a couple of times.

    As half time approached with Town seeming to have weathered the storm, Wrexham had their best spell of the game to date. Town's old failing of being unable to clear their lines almost came back to haunt them as a couple of shots flew over Arthur's bar from dangerous positions.

    Then only a last ditch challenge from Kempson prevented real problems as Wrexham pierced the offside trap.

    In a rare moment of attack a Town throw found the unmarked Connell whose first time cross into the box found Peacock. Unfortunately the ball came high and Town's striker was unable to get over the ball with the shot ending high and wide.

    HALF TIME: Wrexham 0 Grimsby Town 0.

    The second half began with a tactical change as Neil Woods matched Wrexham's 4-3-3 formation moving Coulson and Bore up front to assist Connell with Peacock dropping into the middle of a midfield three.

    The move made very little difference to Town's overall showing though as both wide players failed to get involved in the game.

    Eventually Peter Bore made a run but Connell was too far out to cause real danger with his shot as he received the ball inside.

    On 58 minutes Woods replaced the out of sorts Sinclair with Hudson. Town tried to up the tempo and a quick throw found Coulson. His cross found the head of Connell but the Town top scorer was unable to direct his header well enough to cause Wrexham's 'keeper any problem.

    Wrexham were still looking by far the livelier side and Town were lucky when Atkinson was outjumped in the box with the Wrexham header just clearing the bar. The vocal Wrexham fans could sense "the kill" and from their very next attack the hosts took the lead. The ball came down the left hand side and as Town held off a good cross box pass found the unmarked Harris who hammered a shot across the helpless Arthur for a 1-0 lead.

    The hosts had their tails up now and Town were lucky not to fall further behind as a last ditch tackle from Kempson prevented Andy Morrell.

    Again Woods tried to spark a recovery by replacing Bradley Wood with Eagle and dropping Bore into right back for his third position of the game!

    However, as is often the case, before Town could gain advantage their deficit was doubled. A cross came in and with the defenders seemingly asleep Morrell was able to direct a free header past the despairing Arthur for an unassailable 2-0 lead.

    Dixon replaced Connell for the last few minutes but in truth there was an acceptance that the game had passed beyond Town and eyes were already looking to the next game at York on Tuesday.

    Nothing of note happened in the four minutes added time and Town fans were left to reflect on the end of the brief high scoring run in what was very much a case of "After the Lord Mayor's Show.

    FULL TIME: Wrexham 2 Grimsby Town 0.

    We may look back on this game with some gratitude later as Town were given a lesson in the art of Conference football. Wrexham weren't great but they were far more efficient and "up for it" than the Mariners. Whether Neil Woods should have played the clearly struggling Connell and Kempson is a moot point. It also suggests that our much vaunted "strength in depth" isn't all that.

    IF Mr Fenty was contemplating not needing to bolster the squad during this transfer window then this game showed that to maintain a challenge managers need options. The old chestnut of central midfield reared its head again with Wrexham's number 6 "bossing" the area for the home club. Similarly given Ademeno's injury problems a strengthening "up front" may also be in the mind of the manager.

    MAN OF THE MATCH: Again a difficult choice with so many of Town's recent stars underperforming. For me Lee Ridley just about shaded it with another steady defensive performance.

    Onward to the Kit Kat UTM!!

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