The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Should League Two clubs take money from the Premier League?


one of many
one of many

The Jigsaw

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 13/02/2011

FOOTBALL is about eternal and misguided optimism. Let’s look at this. Before today’s game, we could see that we’d be in the play-off position by winning our two games in hand. But where’s the evidence? We went on a run from 1st to 3rd January, then didn’t have a shot at goal for two games and lost.

We’ve won a couple, drawn a couple and continued to concede early goals. Then there was the Chasetown Catastrophe. Is losing to a mid-table Evo-Stik Premier league side our worst ever moment? As Big Tony observed, we came unstuck there. Still, today’s opponents Cambridge are coming to Blundell Park off 6 defeats. This was probably all the more reason to be nervous.

As I collected my tickets from the club shop, I observed that you can buy a Grimsby Town jigsaw. There’s Peter Bore, Micky Cummins and someone else in the picture. All the pieces were there. I reflected and came to the conclusion that this is not the reality that I understand. There is always a piece missing. This is the world of Grimsby Town.

Today’s line-up looked enterprising: Arthur - Wood, Kempson, Atkinson, Ridley - Coulson, Sinclair, Hudson, Eagle - Connell, Duffy.

Town started brightly and put together a move in the first minute which almost led to a goal. It was like watching lambs frolicking in a field, as Town probed Cambridge’s hapless defence. Passes were patiently put together. Players found and supported each other. It was like a good training session. It came as no surprise when 6 minutes into the game, Michael Coulson pushed the ball out to Sinclair who from the edge of the penalty box expertly curled a shot in over the crowd of players from the left side and landed it in the top right hand corner, giving Brown in the Cambridge goal no chance. Grimsby 1, Cambridge 0. Cambridge were in disarray. Their players looked at each other as if they didn’t know what to do. Hudson was impressive in the midfield, looking up before the ball arrived to size up his best option. Sinclair battled and provided good support. Brown saved a low free kick from Connell, who was unlucky not long afterwards when his chip over Brown bounced back off the crossbar. The game started to get scrappy. Town had forgotten their lines. At one point the ball came to Eagle on the half way line but instead of controlling it, he just stuck a leg out and the ball bounced away. This is how it was. The play was ragged. Discipline was lost. Bradley Wood should have been sent off for kicking in a Cambridge player in the face after already tackling him and conceding a free-kick, but got booked later for a further foul. The performance was starting to get ugly. Cambridge had nothing to offer and were probably grateful to go in 1 - 0 down at half-time.

From the start of the second half, it was clear that Cambridge’s manager had given his team two simple instructions. First was to win the midfield battle. Second was to show determination in defence. Cambridge did both. Grimsby did the rest. There was no fight in midfield and when Town did move forward, passes were going astray. Just as Grimsby’s goal came as no surprise in the first half, neither did Cambridge’s equaliser. A Michael Coulson mistake was picked up by a hungry Cambridge midfield, and Josh Coulson fired in a swinging shot from 30 yards out to beat Arthur. Grimsby 1, Cambridge 1. Connell managed to get a couple of speculative shots in but chances were few and far between. Indeed Cambridge’s Macauley should have scored a second on 75 minutes but was denied by the alert Arthur. The ineffective Eagle was replaced by Makofo who started to cause problems. Peacock replaced Duffy, who had done nothing. With 5 minutes to go, Michael Coulson, who had been way off the pace, decided to cut inside and fired in a shot which landed on top of the net, having hit a defender’s back. In the 93rd and final minute, Peacock won a corner and struck a low shot from the left which went inches wide of the post. Cambridge played out the game at the Grimsby end and the match ended Grimsby Town 1, Cambridge United 1.

I am no psychologist so I cannot even start to explain how a team can play so well and so fluidly and then degenerate in such a fashion. The midfield went missing as the game went on. Michael Coulson had a good moment at the beginning and end of the game but in between his passing and ability to keep up with play weren’t up to standard. Bradley Wood is a player with skill and showed it on more than one occasion by coolly taking on two Cambridge players and beating them. On one of these occasions, he was either so pleased with himself or lost concentration and forgot to take the ball upfield. I commented to my brother on Wood’s "Jekyll and Hyde" performance. "That’s why he’s playing at this level", he replied. It’s true. Wood’s and most of the Town players’ passing and distribution was poor. Tactically, set pieces were a waste of time as we insisted on pumping high crosses into the middle where Cambridge’s goalkeeper and defenders who were all over 6 foot tall, just mopped them up. Other than Coulson’s run into the box towards the end and signs of determination from Peacock, we were frightened to get into the Cambridge box and put them under pressure. What was said at half-time? The wheels were coming off at that point. Mr Neil Woods, please explain. Surely, if things aren’t going so well, you "re-group", or is this something that Blue Square Bet players are mentally incapable of doing? And well done to Cambridge’s manager for getting something out of nothing. The only answer would seem to make these representatives of our team spend 5 hours in training attacking a goal in unison, and doing it again and again until they know what to do. Being able to pass the ball around for 10 minutes is not enough. As for "positives", I thought Ridley, Sinclair and Hudson had a good first half before overall anonymity and ineptitude set in. Peacock and Makofo did well, Sinclair scored a nice goal and we have Kenny Arthur to thank for another good display in goal, but my Man of the Match for Town was Connell, who always looked dangerous and gave 100% even without support. Overall though this was desperately disappointing. I was discussing the subject of Grimsby Town with my daughter Revis recently, and recounting her experiences of the team’s performances, she summarised them as "shameful". The performance against Cambridge was another one to add to the collection.

I didn’t look at the club shop as I walked by on the way back to the station for what turned out to be an exercise in transport-orientated endurance. I did however think about the Grimsby Town jigsaw. It’s not just one piece that should be missing but the whole thing. It’s a puzzle.

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