Question of the WeekWho will win Euro 2020?
|We are Town!|
By: Andrew Doherty
WE have a squad. Mr Slade's been making a few signings and there's time to see what they're all like on and off the ball and to assess all these technical things like working as a team. Tonight's exercise took place at AFC Stamford's impressive Zeeco stadium, where we lost 2-1 last year in a good, competitive game.
Tonight's Lincolnshire cup match, with the prize a home semi-final tie against Scunthorpe, promised to be another useful test. As an additional bonus for a visitor like myself, the Zeeco is a nice ground and a friendly place to come.
"Don't expect too much" was my wife's advice before I set out tonight. No-one told the announcer who declared "it's showtime", as the teams came out on this rainy evening. Reds v blues, not Liverpool v Everton, but rather AFC Stamford v Grimsby Town. Town's line-up was: Killip - Mills, Clarke, Collins, Fox - Osborne, Berrett, Rose, Kelly - Jones, Cardwell.
Hustle and bustle was de rigueur this evening. Good work by Jones and Kelly, who wriggled out of a tight spot, provided the first bright moment of the game, but it was Stamford's Duffy who managed the first strike after 8 minutes. In the middle of the park Osborne wasn't getting a look in as everyone rushed around busily. On 15 minutes Mills supplied Cardwell who got caught up in his feet, and so an opportunity was lost. With nothing happening on the pitch Rose did something about it on 19 minutes and passed directly to Stamford's Jeys, who couldn't believe his luck and in his haste snatched his shot wide from 25 yards out. Stamford's response to receiving the ball seemed to be surprise. Kelly was Town's star and looked dangerous on the left. On 21 minutes, a Stamford player was tripped clumsily outside Town's penalty area. Duffy slammed the free-kick low under the wrongly placed wall, assisted by the Town player on the outside raising his leg. Such Lincolnshire generosity resulted in the first goal: Stamford 1, Grimsby 0. Mr Slade may wish to look at the response to that set piece. Kelly made another good run but Stamford's resolute defence and Town's rustiness led to frustration. On 32 minutes a good lay-off to the enterprising Fox resulted in a good cross to the advancing Jones whose accurate shot was well saved. The ensuing long corner was headed back by Clarke and in the melee of players, Jones pounced and pushed the ball over the line from a yard out. Stamford 1, Town 1. Town looked uncomfortable at the back, and on 34 minutes Jeys won a corner after Town struggled to clear. Town picked up their performance for the last few minutes of the half after showing endeavour without quality, with the notable exception of Kelly who was orchestrating moves on the left in tandem with Fox. Mills and Jones looked to break the Stamford defence, which held firm. Fox finished in the stand after racing up the left and finding himself unable to stop. Osborne won a corner on the right. Kelly supplied Rose who mishit his shot from a Jones pass. The half ended after Fox cut inside and fired over after a solo run.
The message from both coaches at half time was evidently to show composure as both teams visibly took a more measured approach with their passing. Town's approach was to probe then accelerate. It was effective. Berrett created a chance for Kelly who fired over. On 51 minutes Cardwell took advantage of a poor back pass and was unceremoniously tripped by Stamford's keeper Haystead. After attention to the injured Cardwell, Jones stepped up and fired a low penalty to Haystead's right. Stamford 1, Town 2. Town now looked more composed and were starting to pick up the pace. On 60 minutes Mr Slade made a mass change, as Mills, Berrett, Osborne and Cardwell were replaced by Davies, Summerfield, Dembele and Vernon. As Town were reorganising themselves, Stamford attacked up the right and from a cross Sandy stooped low and directed a great header into the left corner. Stamford 2, Grimsby 2. Stamford surged forward. Robinson put in a cross to Smith who could not keep his header down. For Town Kelly and Dembele were now causing problems with their combined skill and pace. Stamford were holding out but not helping themselves by clearing the ball anywhere, resulting in Town coming back to apply more pressure. Bolarinwa replaced the limping Jones on 70 minutes. Shortly afterwards a good run by the nippy Dembele sent Kelly in, only to be thwarted by the defender. Both sides showed plenty of endeavour but no end product. A mistake by Robinson almost let the advancing Town hordes in after 81 minutes. Summerfield won a corner, from which Collins's header cannoned of the post. Kelly continued to be dangerous on the left, and put in a low shot after cutting inside. Stamford then attacked and as Hollis raced towards the penalty area, he was caught up by the speedier Bolarinwa, and fouled. Marshall's free-kick from 25 yards was curled round the wall, but Killip got a hand on the ball and pushed it on to the post. Sandy was unable to finish off the rebound. The game returned to the other end and Vernon showed good skill by slotting a neat pass through to Summerfield whose shot was on target but smothered by the busy Stamford keeper. A minute later a good move by Town's speed merchants Kelly and Dembele resulted in a fruitless corner. Boyce replaced Rose just as three minutes were added on. The prospect of penalties loomed large. Then on 92 minutes good work on the right by Bolarinwa led to a cross to the far post. The lively Dembele was on hand to pick up the cross, control the ball and slot the ball underneath Haystead to settle the match. Seconds later the full time whistle blew with the final score at AFC Stamford 2, Grimsby Town 3.
This was an open and enterprising game. The fitness level of both teams was good, and in technical terms both teams showed a willingness to pass the ball around, making it a good game for the 268 spectators to watch. There were a number of mistakes in possession as is to be expected at this stage of the season. Town showed greater composure than Stamford, and there were plenty of signs of good understanding between our players who had only recently come together. Town's experienced central defenders need more time together however and the normally ebullient Osborne didn't seem to have a clear role, but otherwise there were many positives. In particular Kelly provided width, skill and vision, and Dembele looked very sharp too after coming on. Jones and Mills also showed the qualities, which we saw last season. All in all it was a useful workout for the team and a very pleasant evening in good company.
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