Question of the WeekWho will finish bottom?
The End Product
By: Andrew Doherty
WE'RE a month into the season and none the wiser as to whether it's going to be one of joy, satisfaction or eternal torment. Today's opponents Yeovil have had a good start and have looked quick and sharp during the thirty seconds or so of highlights that you get on EFL on Quest.
Or Who's To Blame This Week as my mate Jerry prefers to call it. The chance is there today to achieve the perfect equilibrium of two wins, losses and draws. The fear is that we lose and fall into an existential crisis as we did last season. I have read comments this season about a lack of energy. Having some of that is always a starting point.
Even with suspensions and injuries, Town managed to put out a strong line-up today: McKeown - Hendrie, Davis, Whitmore, Fawemo - Woolford, Welsh, Hessenthaler - Cook, Vernam, Hooper. The weather was sunny and warm, as Town attacked the Osmond end for the first half.
The game started scrappily. The aerial battle suited Yeovil's lofty defenders. Yeovil's Fisher attempted an audacious chip on 8 minutes. Town's response was a Vernam run which resulted in a corner, followed by an accurate curled shot from the same player, which Yeovil's keeper did well to palm away. Vernam was Town's bright light in the early stages, going on another run and then supplying Cook from the right. It was then Yeovil's turn. An opportunist cross from Arquin led to a scramble, with former Town striker Jaiyesimi struggling to find space as the prostrate Whitmore desperately tried to avoid handling the ball in the box. Yeovil presented a physical threat and Gray was booked for a robust tackle on Hessenthaler, who responded in kind a few moments later and was lucky not to be booked himself. Famewo did a good job of pulling Hessenthaler away as Town's midfielder protested about something. Welsh then showed all and sundry how tackling is done. “Old school” was Andy Humbo's description. In spite of the physical battle, both sides looked to score and create opportunities in an open game. Both teams moved quickly. Another good move from Vernam set up Cook who looked to be fouled but the referee waved play on. Yeovil took advantage, and raced upfield. Davis saved the day with a tackle. Yeovil's Bevis Mugabi then raced upfield on the right like Usain Bolt. Hooper to his credit managed to keep up and avert the danger. Yeovil then had a string of corners, and good work by Hendrie and Woolford kept Town safe. Town won a corner on 34 minutes after good work from Vernam again and Woolford, but Hessenthaler totally messed up the corner. Town won another corner after good initial work from Hooper in midfield, but of the two sides Yeovil looked to be the sharper when in possession. Town got a breather on 39 minutes when Cook was flattened after a tussle with Mugabi. Shortly afterwards Hessenthaler had a shot after a worked move with Woolford but the shot curled over the bar. A lovely cross pass from Vernam to Hendrie almost caught out the Yeovil defence but the resultant shot was wide. Town were getting the ball upfield, and Vernam in particular was making things happen without any real threat of tangible success. Yeovil looked like they could be particularly dangerous. At half time it was 0 - 0, with clear cut chances few and far between in spite of the open game. “Nothing to get excited about”, was Andy's verdict.
Town continued to scrat about at the start of the second half. The lack of a predatory striker for Town was obvious, but as the half progressed it became more obvious that Yeovil were running the midfield, and Town resorted to type with high crosses which Yeovil's defenders routinely repelled. Hendrie supplied a cross for Cook on 56 minutes but the Town player' flicked header went wide. Town were flat and lacked the much vaunted energy. It was as if they didn't believe they could penetrate the defence. Yeovil continued to look sharp and passed the ball around well. Fox came on for Hooper on 61 minutes. Hooper had tried hard in a wide left role, but it just seemed to alienate him. Fox was a logical and hopefully more effective replacement. A couple of minutes later Woolford managed a rare shot on target but the goalkeeper gathered the weak shot with ease. Cook was then booked, before Clifton came on to replace Woolford. The game stopped after another tussle involving the hyper physical Mugabi. Vernam came off worst. The game started to get niggly as Dickenson was guilty of a high challenge on Clifton, to which the Town player reacted. Neither side seemed capable of exerting any sustained pressure, as any entertainment from the first half gave way to a series of mini battles. Good work by Welsh on 70 minutes gave Vernam an opportunity, but his shot was deflected for a corner. As ever, Yeovil's defender headed the ball clear with ease and this led to a break. Fortunately for Town Welsh was alert and averted the danger. It all looked as if a piece of individual skill was going to crack this game open. For Town, only the determined Welsh looked like the one who had decided he was going to do something about it. Yeovil won a corner after a long ball. “Nothing's happening” commented Andy on 78 minutes. Then with the Town defence static, Yeovil's Patrick picked up the ball half way into Town's half on the left. With no player near him or challenging, he set himself up, cut inside and curled a low shot past McKeown's left post from 25 yards. Town 0, Yeovil 1. It was hard to see Town getting out of this one as they had no momentum. “They've not got out of third gear. There's no end product”, was Andy's evaluation. Rose came on for Whitmore on 81 minutes but Yeovil continued to win the ball in midfield, won all the headers and the second balls. Town were effectively snubbed out. A long throw from Rose on 85 minutes found Clifton on the right. Good work led to a cross but Cook's flicked heard went wide. Town had a reprieve on 87 minutes when they were caught napping, leaving Patrick with the opportunity to beat McKeown. This time his curled shot ran wide from an easier position inside the box. But Town did not take advantage. The second half effort amounted to crosses to tall defenders. Four minutes were added, and a neat move involving Rose and Hessenthaler led to a pass to the advancing Fox. But Fox's touch was awful and the opportunity was wasted. Ironically this was probably the right way to penetrate Yeovil's defence and it had taken Town 91 minutes to come up with it. A Hessenthaler free-kick ended with the usual result of being headed clear. Town huffed and puffed and struggled in vain and so it ended: Grimsby Town 0, Yeovil Town 1. Exit 72 happy Yeovil supporters and just over 4200 frustrated Town fans.
They showed great skill and freedom in their play, were physical and well organised. They are Yeovil. Mr Jolley spoke beforehand of believing in principles rather than formations. I think something got lost in translation here. Since when did wearily and mindlessly crossing the ball and constantly being repelled by the defence constitute a principle? Either Mr Jolley is incapable of communicating the principles or the players are incapable of understanding them. The only bright spots were Vernam's performance in the first half, but he tired off later, and Welsh's commitment in midfield. I think Town's defence might turn out to be ok but this was for large parts and for the whole of the second half an unimaginative performance. We haven't got a striker, and whilst Hooper may not be the ultimate answer, he seems to have been sidelined in the mysterious strategy. Town's performance was aimless and yet again lacked energy. Andy's right - there was no end product. The problem is that Town's players didn't seem to have any idea what the end product is, or where they might find it. Maybe there's something we can learn from Yeovil's freedom. Town's play cries restraint. If Mr Jolley can't simplify things and identify ball winners and a striker, then this is going to be another tortuously hard season.
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