Question of the WeekWho will finish bottom?
By: Andrew Doherty
IT'S BEEN a transformational couple of weeks for Town's manager and supporters. First spokesperson Bignot was proud of our goalless draw at bottom club Newport, before he moaned of a horror show at Morecambe, and then the Colchester game was about the three points.
I'm not sure what else it could have been about, but it would be nice to see more of the same today against underperforming Wycombe. Unfortunately Town's record against underperforming teams is not always good, so Mr Bignot's dressing room message needed to be clear.
Wycombe wore their customary sonic and electric quarters, as the paint catalogues would describe their colours - light and dark blue to most people. Eleven shirts and plenty of extra fabric for their gargantuan danger man Akinfenwa. Town's line-up today was:
McKeown - Mills, Pearson, Collins, Andrew - Gunning - Bolarinwa, Osborne, Clements - Dyson, Jones.
A crowd of 4,668 were present in this Lincolnshire heatwave, as the game got under way. The game started openly and physically with neither side dominating but both sides having opportunities. Andy and I were discussing the Wycombe goalkeeper Blackman's two tone shirt as McKeown made a fine save from a long range shot. Andy thought the shirt reminded him of an ice lolly, I thought of chewits but the conundrum of the shirt was resolved by Ian behind us who likened it to an old favourite sweet from the 1970s, a refresher. That problem solved, we returned to the game and on 14 minutes a great run from Jones brought out a good save from the Big Refresher. Dyson went for the tap-in but the Big Refresher pulled off a fantastic save to stop Town from scoring. A minute later Bolarinwa raced clear up the right and, far too quick for the defender, was hacked down in the penalty box. Dyson deceived the Big Refresher by pushing the shot low into the left corner. Town 1, Wycombe 0. Muller earlier missed a great chance for Wycombe, ballooning the ball over from short range. Wycombe looked dangerous and were not frightened to shoot but Bloomfield emulated Muller by landing a shot on top of the Osmond stand. Jacobsen's corner almost fooled the Town defence and McKeown scrambled the ball clear as it appeared to be heading over the line from the corner. Town showed endeavour at this stage and Jones had a chance after a fine pass by Andrew and a good lay-off from Osborne, then Clements caught out the defence with a free kick from the right. The goalkeeper fumbled the ball but Jones was unable to squeeze in the follow up. A fantastic run on 30 minutes from Osborne resulted in a good link up between Jones and Dyson, and again the goalkeeper was forced to parry. Wycombe pressed hard and solidly, with much good work coming from their midfielder Bean, but Town's defence was solid against solid opposition. Bolarinwa showed maturity on 42 minutes when holding back his run to allow support to arrive but the attack broke down. The half ended with a chance for Wycombe when a header from De Havilland flew over the bar.
On 51 minutes Wycombe had their best chance when a low cross from the left evaded the Town defence, but Akinfenwa was unable to reach the cross and poke it into the unguarded town net. Five minutes there was a terrible mix-up in Wycombe's defence. Dyson pounced, and managed to lay the ball off to Jones on inside of the box, but Jones slipped and the shot rolled wide. As the game reached the 60 minute mark the earlier enterprise had gone, and not much was happening. Play was of poor quality. Town in particular were contributing nothing and were allowing Wycombe to play. Then, out of nothing, on 63 minutes an apparently harmless cross was met by the leg of Collins. McKeown was off his line. Collins's interception looped over Town's keeper and agonisingly into the net for an own goal. Town 1, Wycombe 1. McKeown made a good save when unsighted two minutes later following a shot from Cowan-Hall. There was then a disturbing moment when McKeown started bellowing uncontrollably at Pearson who took the safe option of clearing the ball out of defence for a throw-in. Wycombe now were buoyed by the equaliser and were well on top and winning the midfield battle as they had during periods of the first half. Vose replaced Osborne on 68 minutes. On 71 minutes Clements fouled a Wycombe player, resulting in a nasty spat between the two. The free-kick from the right was punched clear by McKeown, who flattened Gunning in the process. Town's players stopped, but Wycombe continued and with no whistle blown, Cowan-Hall hit a screamer into the top right corner from the edge of the box. McKeown stood and watched. Town 1, Wycombe 2. Maxwell replaced the injure Gunning. The game continued scrappily. Town seemed unable to set up any moves or maintain possession. With Town making no progress, Yussuf replaced Collins on 82 minutes to change the formation to 4-3-3. But Town were second best. Wycombe's midfield controlled the game and were blanking out the non-existent Town threat. Town had a rare attack on 86 minutes but Vose scuffed his shot. Wycombe showed more purpose and skill. Jones helped to win a corner on 87 minutes, but Mills's pass was ineffective. As the ball re-entered the Wycombe penalty box, all Jones found was a packed defence. Five minutes were added, and suddenly Town started to show urgency after showing no spirit for the whole of the half. Vose's trickery led to a dangerous low cross, Yussuf set up Jones, then Clements and Yussuf won corners. But a combination of poor quality, misunderstandings, determined defence and a bit of time wasting meant that the final five minutes of frantic effort from Town, the likes of which we hadn't seen earlier, resulted in nothing. So the game ended: Grimsby Town 1, Wycombe Wanderers 2.
Town were mentally and tactically deficient. Wycombe were more professional and more skilful. Town's defence held out for the first half, but after that there was no mental strength, no leadership and Wycombe ran the midfield. Dyson and Jones never gave up, so all credit to them, but other than Town were woeful, ill-disciplined and deserved to lose. When the goalkeeper starts shouting at his defence, and then moments later the whole defence switches off, there are serious character flaws. Mr Bignot seems to have plenty to say about our performances, and I will be interested in his thoughts on this one, but what on earth did he say to the Town team in the dressing room at half time? On the basis of this showing, it is clear that he is not Mr Motivator.
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