League Two Table
Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
|Over land and sea|
By: Andrew Doherty
AFTER last Saturday's dismal 0-4 loss, we come up against a team who won by the same score. Although I live in Cambridge, I've not shown much interest in their team. It does seem there's been a quiet revolution going on, as the manager seems to brought in players who have added resilience, skill and goals.
Numerically we have the players but I know I'm not alone in having doubts about their ability or the uninspiring tactics that we have been employing.
Today's line-up tonight, after much chopping and changing in recent games, was: McKeown - Hendrie, Waterfall, Öhman, Pollock, Gibson - Hewitt, Hessenthaler, Whitehouse - Green, Hanson. I know some prefer the idea of leaving out Hanson to stop the temptation to lump high balls at his head all day, and force the players into other options. I agree with that. On top of that lumping the ball from midfield doesn't work, whoever is on the receiving end, where crossing it from the byline might. Well, that's what I think. Personally I like the idea of playing the Mystery that is Ogbu. Everyone says he's different, which he is, but no-one knows why. Probably Ogbu himself doesn't know. I also had hoped that we would try to play football after recent losses rather than attempting to grind out a result, but today's line-up suggested the latter.
So the game began with a clear night sky and the general expectation of a heavy defeat. Three lumped clearances in the first 10 minutes told the tale. But we didn't concede an early goal. Cambridge had most of the play, but were slow and lumbering as they passed the ball around and systematically undid themselves with a poor final ball or cross. This was like watching rigor mortis. The crowd on all sides of the ground were reduced to silence. The first half was noteworthy for two incidents, both at the Town end. First on 25 minutes Pollock underhit a pass, allowing Richards space for a shot which rebounded off the crossbar. Smith pounced but his shot was blocked. Green ran around busily for Town, but with routine long clearances from the back, and a midfield not creating anything, we posed no threat to the home side. On 36 minutes, Cambridge launched another laboured attack. Lewis found himself on the byline with nowhere to go, turned and was tripped by Gibson. The referee awarded a penalty. Smith stepped up and hit a weak shot up the middle. McKeown didn't commit himself but instead waited and saved the penalty with his legs. The ball returned to Smith who panicked and ballooned the ball over. At last the 361 Town fans had something to cheer about. After this Town showed more confidence and the defence noticeably tightened up. At the half it remained 0 - 0.
Town started the second half well. Hendrie won a free kick, following which Hanson headed on to Green who had a good shot blocked before firing over with his second attempt. Hanson sent Green away again on 52 minutes after Whitehouse was tripped. Town were showing more energy. It was good to see bodies in the Cambridge box. This was better. Cambridge responded with attacks of their own but in League 2 style, the game reverted to nothingness as if the entertainment budget had been exhausted. The crowd chatted amongst themselves. Cambridge played the ball around and routinely messed up. Town kept a good shape, and had a chance around the 65th minute when Hewitt crossed for Öhman whose accurate header was at a good height for Mitov. Öhman was injured in the process. Town's players went over to the bench for a tactical talk and a drink while the Cambridge players stood around. Rose came on for Green on 73 minutes. It was a shame this didn't happen a few minutes earlier when Green had the chance to attack on the break but looked weary. Cambridge continued to have most of the possession, but a great run from Hendrie on 75 minutes saw Town on the attack. Hewitt then battled well to win the ball and supplied Whitehouse who slipped in the box. Cambridge however piled on pressure, darting around, passing, crossing and shooting from all angles. It was up to Waterfall and co to withstand the torrent. They did this magnificently. Rose had two chances to break the deadlock for Town but his touch let him down on each occasion. 5 minutes were added. Cambridge won a free-kick outside the box after a Hendrie foul. Dunk's delivery was poor. The game ended: Cambridge United 0, Grimsby Town 0.
There was very little entertainment here for the crowd of 4,898 spectators. But after recent disappointments, this was a satisfactory result and performance. The plan worked today. The defence was solid. Öhman in particular was outstanding, but credit is due to all three central defenders. The overall work rate was good. In the second half we saw plenty of evidence of team work. We now need to find a way to scoring goals again, but at least we got something out of this game. It was a good effort today from Town's players and we stopped the rot that had been threatening to set in.
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