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Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
A Good Friday
By: Andrew Doherty
ANOTHER new dawn, the second coming of Russell Slade. But it's not about the manager. As a supporter, I do like to see a half decent performance for my money. I didn't go to the Doncaster or Blackpool games, but what I saw before that was aimless rubbish.
Opportunity now knocks as the manager looks to trim the squad and picks the best and hungriest players. A competitive game beckons as today's opponents Cambridge have an eye on a play-off place.
Town's line-up today was: McKeown - Mills, Boyce, Collins, Andrew - Gunning - Berrett, Clements, Osborne - Dyson, Jones.
As the game kicked off, it was cold, wet and raining horizontally. "It's Cleethorpes" commented my son Merlin. The River Humber was barely visible from the Young's stand. The first half was not a spectacular affair. Town looked tidy at the back and the general interplay was ok but there were signs of misunderstandings between players and at one point Clements looked to clear the ball out of defence with no options as his team mates stood like statues. Worst of all, Town seemed intent on lumping high balls for Dyson and Jones, who were smothered by Cambridge's tall defenders. Cambridge had the best chances with Berry sending in a header and later firing a shot from 20 yards just wide after being set up nicely by Ikpeazu. Town survived another scare just before half-time, but in spite of the high balls did have opportunities. A mix-up between Cambridge's keeper Norris and the defence led to Berrett being fouled, but Andrew's free-kick was dismal and floated into Norris's arms. Then Osborne beat the Cambridge defender on the left, and in spite of fouled, carried on. As he ran from the by line towards goal, the referee called play back when the advantage would have been better. Clements's free-kick came to nothing. There was another controversial moment when Osborne was pulled down by Carroll inside Cambridge's half as he threatened to run clear but the referee waved play on with the linesman close to hand to see it. 0 - 0 at half time reflected the lack of opportunities. The game suffered also from an abundance of fouls, mostly by Cambridge, and free-kicks and strangely, Cambridge's time-wasting tactics. As a team needing points for promotion, this seemed a curious way of trying to win the game.
It was good to see that Town started passing the ball around in the second half - words from Mr Slade, no doubt. The weather was bright, the rain had gone and the ships on the river were visible as Town attacked the Pontoon end. Osborne epitomised the increased tempo with a terrific tackle deep in Cambridge's half, and saw a shot deflected for a corner. Soon after on 56 minutes, a well worked move found Osborne on the left. Cutting inside, he turned and was tripped by the Cambridge defender. Penalty to Town. Dyson stepped up, and in spite of Norris going the right way, his low and hard-hit penalty found the left corner. Town 1, Cambridge 0.
Five minutes later there was a scare as Cambridge pressed for an equaliser, when Andrew and Osborne left the ball to each other in Town's box. Elito pounced and slammed hits shot goalwards. McKeown spread himself and saved well with his feet. Bolarinwa replaced Berrett for Town. Cambridge continued to probe, and Ikpeazu fired a low shot just wide, but Town were defending well, with Boyce in particular stepping in to avert danger on more than one occasion, and working the ball well. Dyson and Jones linked up, and Mills was working well on the right but Osborne was involved in everything, winning balls and creating attacks. Bolarinwa was set free on 80 minutes, cutting inside for Dyson to head the ball into the danger area. Osborne picked up the ball on the left and sent in a curling cross but neither Dyson nor Jones could get a toe end on it. Cambridge, who hadn't really got going, had a chance a couple of minutes later Ikpeazu shot over the bar. Another well worked move on 84 minutes from Town found the ubiquitous Osborne, who cut outside the defender. Just as it looked as if he'd gone too far, he cut the ball back across the goal from the left with Clements advancing behind the defence and able to poke the ball home. Town 2, Cambridge 0.
Disley came for the limping Jones, and looked to see Town home. Things didn't go to plan however as a curling cross from the left looped over McKeown, with Andrew losing Halliday who headed in from a yard out. A furious argument ensued between McKeown and Andrew. With five minutes of added time and Cambridge on the up for the first time in the game, these were nervous moments. Town did get a break as Bolarinwa raced away but with only the goalkeeper to beat, he lost control of the ball. A speculative shot from Cambridge into a crowded Town penalty area almost bounced over McKeown who spilt the ball, and to Town's relief the follow-up shot went over. Town won a free-kick anyway, and to the relief of the 5166 spectators less the 469 from Cambridge, the referee blew his whistle for full-time. Grimsby Town 2, Cambridge United 1.
There were communication issues between Town's players, and this is something that Mr Slade will have to sort out, but this was a very encouraging display. I was particularly encouraged by the fact that the second half was such an improvement. After a lacklustre first half, Town showed shape, movement and pace in the second. Osborne was brilliant and was my man of the match, but the overall work rate and support play were good. I was also particularly impressed with our central defenders Boyce and Collins who were always on hand to keep out the sporadic Cambridge threat from beginning to end. This was a good Friday.
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