Question of the WeekWho will finish bottom?
|Not this year|
By: Andrew Doherty
AT my golf club we have a competition called the FA Trophy. It is open to those who during the year have won precisely nothing. It's hard to get excited about its footballing equivalent ... until now. You don't hear of the FA Trophy being spoken of in hushed tones, romance or Arsenal not winning it again.
But like the Johnston Paints, the LDV Vans, the Rumbelows, the Zenith Data Systems, the Boyes Stores Trophy or whatever, suddenly supporters realise it's something worth winning. There's a pot of glory, if not gold, at the end of it, for those who prevail. That's the theory but as we entered Blundell Park today for our quarter final fixture against York City, there was no discernible excitement or atmosphere. The away end was deserted. There was no buzz around the ground. The weather was typically clear but threatened to be cold and inhospitable.
Town's line up today was: McKeown - Silk, Pearson, l'Anson, Townsend - Church, Thanoj, Disley, Coulson - Hearn, Duffy.
First half. If the atmosphere provided little inspiration, so did the football. York had played well in the encounter at Bootham Crescent earlier in the season but today both sides struggled to create movement. York were marginally the better on a bouncy pitch, aided and abetted by poor clearances from Silk and Pearson in Town's defence. Town had difficulty keeping the ball on the ground. Only Townsend showed class on the left side. The midfield was playing too deep, which allowed York to dominate play in the Grimsby half.
Town eventually got into the game. Coulson caused trouble with his cross-field runs and was tripped several times. Church and Thanoj showed endeavour. Thanoj showed his skill by picking up a pass in his own half, weighing up his options and finding Hearn out on the right with a long flighted path, but York were always quick to close down on any attack. Town's display lacked cohesion and the passing game never started. Disley was having a poor game in midfield and didn't seem to know what to do when in possession. At one point he won the ball then played it out to open space where there was no-one. This was non-league ineptitude at its finest. York's Blair outpaced the defence and was tripped on the edge of the box but the free-kick was wasted.
Hearn had a couple of shots blocked at the other end. Town's best chance came on 35 minutes when Hearn fired a fierce low shot from the right edge of the box, bring out a low save by York's unsighted goalkeeper, who tipped the ball away from under his left post. York had a good chance near half-time when Chambers broke through on the left but McKeown was alert and ran out to narrow the angle and block the shot. At half-time, it was Grimsby 0, York 0.
Half-time verdict. Neither side was playing to their potential. Although Town's defence was solid, the overall performance was riddled with anxiety. Lumping balls out of defence or hopeful passes from over-deep midfield players was not going to win us anything. York were closing Town's players down as we struggled to control the ball.
At the beginning of the second half Town started finally to pass the ball around, presumably having been given instructions to do so. At last the width of the pitch was being used. The work was undone by poor control or poorly aimed crosses. Hearn laid on a chance for Duffy who shot over, then Duffy was caught offside after threatening to go clear, before he knocked the ball on for Hearn who couldn't gather the ball to run clear from the half way line. Hearn then made a couple of mistakes in possession, suggesting that today he was having a low confidence day. Disley meanwhile started to impose himself, tracking back to help out the defence, but the Disley of the first half re-emerged as he ran forward and, with one defender to beat and the option of taking the ball on or passing to Duffy, he opted for the latter. His weak pass fell into the path of the defender.
In the first half Town had been guilty of miscommunication between players and it happened again in the second half, as players left the ball to each other more than once. York had been pegged back but plugged away doggedly and embarked on an attack after 81 minutes. McKeown made his second good save, but Town struggled to clear their lines and inevitably an unmarked York player floated a cross in from the right edge of the box to the equally unmarked Kerr who headed home from less than 5 yards out. Grimsby 0, York 1.
Substitutions had been made earlier. The injured Church was replaced by the industrious but ever aggressive Wood. Movement started to happen up the right hand side for a short period. The hard-working and constantly slippery Coulson was replaced by Makofo who seemed to pick up the Grimsby disease, showing poor first touches and losing control at every opportunity. In the latter part of the second half, York pressed forward and Town were reduced to break-outs. The delivery was consistently poor though and as earlier in the game, Town reverted to playing through the centre. York's defence had every angle covered and Ingham in goal did not have to make a save. The game came to a sorry end with a scuffle in the York penalty area, but the important statistic remained: Grimsby Town 0, York City 1.
Verdict. We deserved nothing and got nothing. On the positive side, Coulson made incisive runs, Thanoj started brightly but faded and McKeown made a good save in each half. Town's Man of the Match Townsend was streets ahead of his team mates in skill and composure. But the team performance was ragged, and as a display in ball control, teamwork, tactics and co-ordination, it was woeful. Spain today, Louth United tomorrow? It's hard to say whether we should be concerned or just consider it a one-off. We should be concerned because the playing conditions were good and we had most of a full strength team out there. For the most part we looked disorganised rabble and we don't want to be taking these attributes to the next game. So we look to our managers for an injection of skill, tactics and inspiration. Otherwise, as today, it will be a case of Sweet FA.
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