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Bad day at the office
Bad day at the office

No Thrills on Thursday

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 11/04/2014

I RECEIVED a flyer inviting me to a “Thursday Thriller”. The attraction in question was the London Broncos v Catalan Dragons, so the description was pushing the boundaries of credibility. By coincidence, Town's re-arranged game at Dartford fell on a Thursday night.

It looks like the final five minutes of Tuesday's encounter with Woking provided us with our quota of thrills for the season, so it was just too much to expect more tonight. I came to Dartford last year, when we ground out a win on a boggy pitch against a physically drained home team. A repeat performance would do, with or without the thrills.

Town's line-up had an unfamiliar look: McKeown – Walker, McDonald, Doig, Fyfield – Colbeck, Thanoj, McLaughlin – Hannah, Cook, Tounkara.

Town started brightly with McLaughlin leading the passing moves in midfield, and had a good chance after four minutes when Hannah's shot was saved, but Cook couldn't shake off the Dartford defender to score. Dartford had the odd the attack but weren't troubling Town's defence. On 19 minutes the impressive Cook rattled a fierce shot against the underside of the bar. Dartford had their best chance with a flicked header on 35 minutes, forcing a save out of McKeown, but Town were on top.

A multi-player move resulted in a corner for Town, but the opportunity was lost. Town had no clean chances, but Cook managed a header on target after 38 minutes after a Hannah cross from the left flank. Dartford had another chance when Cornhill had a free header from a corner but his effort went wide. Tounkara responded immediately with a snap shot. At half time the score was Dartford 0, Grimsby Town 0. Town's makeshift team was performing well. There was evidence of training ground moves, and Cook in particular looked dangerous. A concern however was Town's lack of clear-cut chances.

The start of the second half saw Dartford playing with more purpose. The game was more hurried and physical than the first 45 minutes. No-one for Town was taking charge and orchestrating moves. On 63 minutes Mitchel-King flattened Cook just inside Dartford's half. Thanoj's free-kick found Cook whose header evaded the goalkeeper but bounced off the bottom of the post. Southwell replaced Tounkara after 65 minutes. The Dartford fans thought their team had scored on 71 minutes but McKeown managed to palm away Cornhill's header. Dartford were looking the more determined, and won a free-kick on the edge of the box after 73 minutes when Fyfield was adjudged to have tripped the advancing Noble when going for a 50-50 ball. Fyfield picked up his second yellow card for the foul and Town were down to 10 men. The free-kick resulted in a corner, from which the unmarked Cornhill fired in a bullet header and scored. Dartford 1, Grimsby Town 0.

From this point on, Town did not know what to do. Winfarrah replaced Hannah after 76 minutes and showed promise, but there was no integrity about Town's play. Dartford were forcing mistakes and looked more likely to score themselves. Town's sole offensive tactic seemed to amount to finding Cook to lay the ball off but impressive as Cook was, there was no support and Town didn't threaten the Dartford goal. Dartford were more lively and visibly motivated to win the game. Four minutes of added time was announced, but the weary-looking Town players had just run out of ideas. It was a relief when the final whistle blew. The full-time score was: Dartford 1, Grimsby Town 0.

All is not lost in terms of the play-offs, but Town will have to do better than this. In the opening spell, Town looked as if they might break through but they flattered to deceive. It was a back-up team but this uninspiring performance gave no cause for encouragement. I hadn't expected any thrills on this pleasant evening in Kent but in the end as a Town supporter this bordered on torture.

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