Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
Keep Calm and Look Ahead
By: Andrew Doherty
THE other day I came across by chance an organisation called CALM. It stands for Campaign Against Living Miserably. I'm sure this organisation does very good work for people in difficulty, but my immediate thought was of a lifetime experience of watching Town, but in particular the last 15 years or so.
This season has bucked the trend although with us sitting 7th in the National League success or failure are both possibilities. By contrast today's opponents Boreham Wood have excelled themselves both in the FA Cup and in the league, where they are in 5th place. Whilst at one time we could reasonably have expected to beat our North London opponents, today's game promised to be tough with the home side on balance down as favourites to win and continue their ascent towards the dizzy heights of EFL League 2. Town's form has been better of late than that of Boreham Wood, who have been going through a post-cup hangover, so I set out for Meadow Park with a modicum of hope.
Busy, bustling and abundant with people and traffic in the typical way of a London suburb on this bright and sunny but blustery Saturday afternoon, the large numbers of Town fans who turned up early can't fail to have been impressed by the array of cafes, restaurants and pubs on Boreham Wood's high street. The nearby ground, which is a modern and much improved version of Dover's stadium, was by comparison an oasis of calm until the arrival of the fans. Town's side today read: Crocombe - Efete, Smith, Waterfall, Amos - Burgess, Coke - Sousa, Clifton - McAtee - Taylor. On the bench today were last week's scorers Dieseruvwe and Scannell along with Abrahams, Pearson and Maguire-Drew. The home announcer made the customary hash of mispronouncing Dieseruvwe, Paul Hurst's Player of Last Resort who is turning into a cult hero. I think my mate Andy Humbo had this one right when he suggested that Dieseruvwe is best said or slurred when drunk. I find it works a lot better. Stadium announcers could take note of this advice.1670 spectators were present today, 762 supporting Town.
Town started in a sprightly fashion as they attempted to put the Boreham Wood defence under pressure with runs from Sousa, Clifton and then McAtee. Coke had a shot blocked after a foul on Amos and a free-kick. McAtee pressed the keeper and won a throw deep into Boreham Wood territory. The home side countered. Waterfall dragged down Marsh and was booked. The resultant free-kick resulted in a corner, but Efete took charge and headed clear. Neither side had control of play. The pitch and the wind were winning as both sides struggled to set up coherent moves. On 22 minutes Coke had a long-range shot blocked, then Clifton floated in a cross which the wind took for a goal kick. Town weren't making any inroads. On 28 minutes Boreham Wood won a corner after Efete failed to control a header, but again Town's defence stood firm and the cross was cleared. 40 minutes had gone, when Mafuta rugby-tackled Amos. McAtee sized up the free-kick in Ronaldoesque fashion and then sent a limp cross to the defender's head. As if the home side had confused the sport they were playing, it was then Stephens's turn to commit a rugby tackle, this time on Clifton but Amos's delivery was week and that was the half. This had been an exercise in blocked shots, frantic play and fouls. Neither side seemed capable of gauging the wind or dry pitch, and control was at a premium. There was a lot of effort for no end product. "Visit Rwanda" suggested the pitchside hoarding enigmatically, but maybe the person who put this up knew that we'd get more entertainment elsewhere.
Good initial work by Taylor and McAtee set up a duo of attacks, but first Amos and then Efete wasted the good work. On 49 minutes Clifton did outstandingly well to cut out a cross and not put the ball into his own net. A minute later Waterfall started an attack and found Sousa who slipped the ball through to Efete, whose clip went just wide. A fantastic through ball from Taylor found Amos who composed himself, bursting through the middle and firing a shot which Ashby-Hammond saved. Town then won a dubious corner which Amos took. The same player received the return and fired in a shot that was blocked. Town had upped the tempo and were on top. Boreham Wood had a strong spell 15 minutes into the half when Crocombe was quick to react to the advancing Orsi who was through on goal. Soon after the home side won a corner. Former Mariner Fyfield found himself unmarked but headed inches wide. On 67 minutes Clifton did well to unravel the ball from his feet, supplying McAtee who also had to untangle himself, finally getting a shot in which went wide. Following another Clifton - Taylor - McAtee link up, a prodigious Gascoigne style flick found McAtee clear and with only the goalkeeper to beat. But Ashby-Hammond stood up well and palmed McAtee's shot away. Fyfield was then booked for a foul on Coke. Evans crumbled in the melee following the free kick, causing the game to be stopped and restarted with a drop ball. On 74 minutes Dieseruvwe replaced Taylor. "Deliveroo!" cried the spectator close to me on observing this move. Let's hope he could. Town attacked immediately. Clifton crossed. Efete's shot was blocked. On 76 minutes for the record and to everyone's amazement, Sousa had a shot on target. It was scuffed. Soon after this momentous event, Sousa was replaced by Maguire-Drew, proving that Mr Hurst's pre-match injury conference is nothing but a tactic to deflect opposition planning. Dieseruvwe advanced but the referee had the more important task of booking Mafuta for an earlier foul, so stopped the game. "We need a bit of magic" observed the Town fan next to me. Before that magical moment Town had to defend well and shake off Boden, conceding a corner in the process. On 85 minutes Town attacked on the right. Efete found Maguire-Drew on the right edge of the box. Maguire-Drew's curled left-footed delivery was superb. But the unsighted Ashby-Hammond was up to it and tipped the shot away brilliantly. This could have been the moment of magic. Spurred on, Town passed the ball around well and with intent. Five minutes were added. Clifton and Amos brought about a corner. The ball came out to Maguire-Drew whose piledriver was deflected away. Town battled and had to withstand one more Boreham Wood attack, which was blocked and met with the distinguished resolute defending from Waterfall and Smith which we had witnessed throughout the game. So the game ended: Boreham Wood 0, Grimsby Town 0.
This was a decent result against a strangely negative Boreham Wood side. After a stale first half, Town played well in the second half, being particularly unlucky when Maguire-Drew's sublime curler was saved. Town displayed plenty of effort and endeavour. Boreham Wood looked like they could present a threat, but really if this is the quality of opposition in the play-offs, we have nothing to fear. We're outside those play-offs now but next we have a big game against Solihull where we can climb the table. Stay calm, folks, and pray for a win on Tuesday.
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