League Two Form Guide
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Rotten Eggs in Meggies
By: Andrew Doherty
IN SPITE of the railways putting two fingers up thanks to engineering work and "extended journey times", I made it to Blundell Park. Rituals needed to be followed first - haddock and chips, buy a taste of Grimsby to enjoy later, a copy of the Grimsby Telegraph, a bag search and a programme.
Ah, the programme. I had thought that Stevenage had sold themselves to the devil, which is true overall but in particular by adopting e-programmes, but I've come to realise there's little or no point. Away ones are more interesting but the information about Town is the same and I can read it all on the web site. In the days when people travelled I finished up giving programmes away to hapless international language students on the pretext that by reading The Thoughts of Marcus Bignot and whoever else, they were learning language and acquiring wisdom. So I bought one today in accordance with tradition and as something to read on the return leg of my extended journey, before joining my friends from the K79 Club in the Main Stand. K79 himself kindly awarded me with a Meggie Egg, enticingly describing it as "looking like a baby's nappy but tastes great". I look forward to having it later and sampling this succulent egg and bacon-wrapped gourmet feast later.
It's not right to say the tide has turned but the mood has certainly improved after last week's convincing win against Altrincham. Today's game threatens to be tougher with opponents Bromley in the upper reaches of the table. Town's team today with the task of maintaining the upturn was: Crocombe - Smith, Waterfall, Pearson, Amos - Coke - Maguire-Drew, Fox, McAtee - Abrahams, Taylor. It may not be Tammy but it was nevertheless good news that Tristan Abrahams is here and filling the sought after number 9 slot today. It was perhaps too much to expect anything from our new striker who only arrived yesterday. 5,854 spectators were here today including 78 Bromley supporters.
The blue skies of earlier had given way to cloud. It was now starting to get cold. The only blue was the shirts of Bromley. Town attacked the Osmond end for the first half and almost scored immediately when McAtee struck a shot following an Abrahams cross. The ball returned to Coke who took his time but his shot from outside the box was deflected for a corner. On 5 minutes Amos showed quick feet, as Glenn Hoddle would say, and found Fox who turned and was tripped outside the box. McAtee's free kick went just over. For a brief moment, Bromley attacked and Pearson got involved in a tussle with Arthurs, but Town were soon attacking again and a low shot from Maguire-Drew resulted in a corner. The ball came in to the packed box. Abrahams's attempt from close range was cleared off the line. Three minutes later, Bromley's Sowumni crushed Taylor. Maguire-Drew found Waterfall's head but the header was wide. Maguire-Drew whipped in another cross soon after. So far it was all Town. The passing, movement and skill were all of good quality. On 19 minutes Bromley won a free kick on the edge of Town's area but Arthurs blasted his free-kick into the wall. Town continued to work forward and on 24 minutes a patient passing movement involving Amos, Fox and Abrahams found Maguire-Drew on the right. Maguire-Drew picked his spot and drilled in a low shot past Cousins and into the corner. Town 1 Bromley 0. Town deserved to be in the lead. Maguire-Drew followed up with a similar shot which was deflected for another corner. The game then stopped after Coke went down following a crunching challenge in midfield. On resumption, Abrahams gave the ball away to Cheek but ran back to make up for his own mistake and avert the danger. In amongst it all, the invited juniors behind the goal brought back memories of old Schoolboy internationals, greeting every attempt and clearance joyfully with their shrill voices. Bromley's 5 shot from long range but the shot landed in the upper reaches of the Pontoon as Town dominated on all levels. McAtee and Maguire-Drew combined with their trickery but were unable to squeeze through the Bromley defence, however their determination won Town another corner on 36 minutes. Maguire-Drew delivered it but this time Pearson was penalised for a foul on Cousins. Fox was then booked for a robust challenge. The free-kick was despatched from the right. Town struggled to clear the ball, and Alexander was on hand to ram the ball home from close range and make it 1 - 1. It was always going to be a matter of time before Bromley created a chance but this was against the run of play, as Town were unable to see their superiority through the first half. Bromley almost scored a second just seconds later when Crocombe was forced to make a save with his feet from the orange-booted Forster. The same player then won a corner. It was Bromley's turn now. Cheek was then guilty of a bad miss. McAtee and Maguire-Drew continued to make pretty patterns on the right for Town. The ball fell to Fox who was tackled. Corner to Town. Maguire-Drew tried to weave his way through the defence from the right, beating three players but was unable to finish. Bromley had the final chance of the half when Crocombe was forced into a double save from Forster. 1 -1 at half time. It was to be expected that Bromley came back into the game after being overrun but the way Bromley equalised was disappointing as Town were playing well.
Clifton replaced Maguire-Drew, who was injured, for the second half. A neat move from Bromley was only averted when Alexander's touch was poor, before Clifton lost possession and Town had to work hard to prevent the danger. On 51 minutes Fox ran up the left but cutting inside, chose the wrong option by shooting from a tight angle, instead of laying off to Taylor who was unable to beat Cousins to the ball. Smith was booked for a dubious foul on Forster. Bingham's shot went over following the free-kick. Bromley won a corner on 54 minutes. After a slow start to the game they now looked a nippy, nifty side. A minute later McAtee set up Abrahams but Town weren't making any inroads. Bromley's terrier-like Forster was then booked for fouling as McAtee as the away side disrupted Town's weak offensives. Town's only effort at this point came on 61 minutes when Pearson took a lash and found the top tier of the Pontoon. Good work from Amos won Town a corner, after Town's left back anticipated and intercepted the ball in midfield. A subtle chip from Pearson found Abrahams who muffed his shot from close range. It was a tough battle. Town struggled. McAtee had his statutory long-range effort on 67 minutes but the shot was mishit and went miles wide. Smith was then dispossessed by the ubiquitous Forster but Coke was on hand to save the day. Town won a corner and Cousins did well to push out a McAtee shot. Town attacked on 70 minutes. Fox advanced and saw an opening on the left so supplied Amos whose thunderous shot caught Bromley's Sowumni in the face. Bromley countered but the game stopped for attention to the poleaxed Sowumni. When play resumed, Town's defence did well collectively to close down Arthurs. McAtee charged up the left but had no support. Coke won the ball back to set up a chance for McAtee whose low shot was well saved. Cheek had a long-range shot as Bromley for all their cynical and physical approach at times looked the more likely to score. Sousa replaced Abrahams on 79 minutes. On 83 minutes Bromley won a corner. Coulson sent a swinging cross in to the near post, where Arthurs flicked a header over Smith and Crocombe into the right hand corner of the net. Town 1, Bromley 2. Wright replaced Fox to give Town an attacking edge but Town looked lost. The clearly frustrated McAtee tried to do it on his own, running on and shooting and in doing so ignoring other options, and this summed up Town who now had lost their shape and confidence. The game fizzled out and so it remained 1 - 2 to Bromley at the final whistle.
K79's Meggie Egg is wonderful, but it was more of a case of rotten eggs at Blundell Park this afternoon. Town lost their way after a good start, failing to take their opportunities up. Bromley were always going to get back in the game. The loss of Maguire-Drew due to injury was a big blow, leaving McAtee to fight the cause. But it wasn't just this, as whilst there was a lot of clever play from Town's star players, the goal came about from patient team effort. Town were unable to replicate this. In any case Bromley had recognised the threat of McAtee and knew how to handle him. The professional and cynical Bromley won the physical battle but this is what you have to deal with. Town lost their way and the clever trickery of McAtee and Maguire-Drew came to nothing. As a team, we have a long way to go.
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