Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
|We are Town!|
By: Andrew Doherty
IT'S hard not to gush endlessly over Town's performance on Monday at Notts County. The enterprising play, determination from the start, the tactics, the substitutions - it's what we've been waiting for and my word, Town delivered.
And now we have to do it against in a tougher test away in the newly appointed city of Wrexham. They may be Hollywood courtesy of their owners but we are Grimsby. The way the team was set up on Monday suggested that we would be ready for this. With only 1200 away tickets available, most of us were limited to shouting at televisions and having to listen to the platitudes of Messrs Virgo and McClean. Today's gladiators in blue representing Grimsby in the City of Dragons were: Crocombe - Cropper, Waterfall, Smith, Amos - Sousa, Fox, Holohan, Clifton - McAtee - Taylor.
Within a minute a Cropper pass and the pursuant McAtee won Town a corner. A training ground move almost paid off. Town looked confident. Long Throw Wars started a minute late with Cropper launching one in beyond the defence, the first of four for Town in the first 10 minutes. A great build-up move staring with McAtee and involving Amos and Taylor came back to McAtee who curled his shot into the net from outside the box. The goal was disallowed for offside. More good teamwork resulted in a Taylor header going just over from a Cropper cross via Amos. Town were on top. In the 11th minute, Wrexham cleared the ball out from defence. Mullin entered the box. Waterfall pushed him wide. Mullin fell. The referee awarded a penalty for a push and trip by a disbelieving Waterfall. Mullin stepped up and slammed his penalty home off the crossbar. Wrexham 1, Town 0. Town kicked off and looked to build an attack. Taylor laid the ball off to McAtee who created space on the left before pulling back and fired in a curling screamer to the keeper's right. 1 - 1. Then seconds later Crocombe was forced to make a great save from a Hosannah shot from the right. The game was intense. Play was physical. There were a lot of fouls. Now it was time for a Tozer long throw. In it came. In the midst of a packed defence Mullin headed home but the goal didn't stand due to French pulling on Crocombe's shirt. Amos was booked for hacking down Hosannah. From the free-kick Taylor managed to distract Palmer whose header was wide. Wrexham were now launching repeated attacks. Palmer crossed from the right. The ball was hooked in and headed on for Hosannah to finish from close range. Crocombe raced out and kicked Hosannah in the face. In the aftermath, Waterfall was booked. Town had survived a scare. On 28 minutes a Tozer throw found Palmer's head. Crocombe saved brilliantly and then did it again as Wrexham put Town under intense pressure. Two minutes later Wrexham had another long throw but for once there was no danger. After a good start Town had a rare attack with McAtee laying off Clifton as the game remained in the balance. It was edgy and physical but there was plenty of skill from both teams. On 35 minutes Taylor was finally booked after numerous entanglements with French. For the first time the game slowed down. Smith made a good interception on 40 minutes, and supplied McAtee whose long-range effort was high and wide. Town's next move stopped due to a poor Holohan pass, but Town regained possession. Another classy lay-off from Taylor found McAtee whose volley went inches wide. On 44 minutes Cropper was dispossessed, resulting in a Wrexham corner.
Four minutes were added at the end of the half. Holohan was tripped for a trip on Palmer. Tozer's throw was cleared, and Clifton raced away, to be pulled back by Tozer who was booked. So ended the half.
As the second half started, a great move up the left saw McAtee run through but the angle was too tight and Dibble saved. McAtee retrieved the ball and supplied Clifton whose strong shot was pushed away for a corner. Amos sent in the corner from the right. Dibble dabbled and spilt the ball which came back to Amos, whose cross to Waterfall was headed home. Wrexham 1, Town 2. Wrexham responded. Cropper was on hand to head out for a corner. Davies put in a cross. Palmer couldn't get on the end of it. On 51 Town launched an attack. Sousa's low cross was flicked on by Clifton. The unsighted Dibble saved well. As Wrexham pressed, Town looked to go forward, not content to hang on to the lead. McAtee, in a central position, found Sousa who laid the ball off to the overlapping Cropper - corner for Town. The ball was cleared but Town attacked again. A cross-box move saw Fox in space but rather than shoot himself from the edge of the box, Fox chose to pass to Sousa whose shot was blocked and diverted for a corner. Dibble's punch was poor. Clifton's fierce shot was saved, but Fox made a hash of the follow-up. Town played with composure. Wrexham posed a constant threat in this game of high quality and intensity. On an hour, Amos exemplified Town's confidence, bursting through and beating defenders but the ball was at his weak foot and Amos's shot lacked power. Amos had another chance shortly afterwards when Taylor made a good interception after determined play, finding MacAtee whose lay-off presented a good opportunity but Amos dragged the shot wide. 62 minutes were up. Wrexham won a corner. The ball was sent to the far post where Tozer bullied Cropper allowing the Wrexham player to rise above him and head into the net. Wrexham 2, Town 2. A minute later as Wrexham sought to build on the momentum, Tozer launched another long throw. Palmer flicked it on in spite of pressure from Fox and Smith, and Maradona-Mullin appeared to squeeze the ball in with his hand. The referee didn't see anything so Wrexham were now in the lead at 3 - 2. Town attacked patiently. It was good and a great sign of progress to see the absence of panic. On 70 minutes a Fox piledriver was punched clear. As Town set up another attack, Taylor deftly chested down the ball to McAtee who worked up the right. Taylor ran on. McAtee sent in a low cross. Taylor stooped, beat the defender and sent a powerful header past Dibble. 3 - 3. It was Town's turn to have the momentum. As the announcer confirmed the crowd as 9,734, Dieseruvwe replaced Taylor. 75 minutes had gone. Dieseruvwe was in action straightaway as a Cropper arm rocket caused mayhem in the Wrexham defence. Fox was now in the box. His trickery earned a corner. Amos's short pass to Clifton caught the defence by surprise. Clifton's shot was blocked. Waterfall battled and won a second corner. McAtee delivered the corner to the far post, where Dieseruvwe rose and beat the defender to head home from 10 yards. Wrexham 3, Town 4. It needed a world-class save by Crocombe to avert an immediate equaliser as a ball over top gave Mullin a golden opportunity with a volley. Wrexham fought. 79 minutes was up. A corner came in. This time Davies beat Holohan and headed the ball in to make the score 4 - 4. Wrexham then came close following a cross from McFadzean to Palmer who couldn't get the angle. Town weren't finished however and put together a great move out of defence involving Clifton, Dieseruvwe, Fox, McAtee and finally Sousa ended with a corner. A foul in the box meant an anti-climax on this most dramatic of days. On 85 minutes, a Davies volley went close as Town struggled to clear an attack from the left. Soon after Abrahams replaced McAtee. The game continued to go from end to end. Crocombe cut out a cross from Young before Abrahams put Clifton through on the right. Clifton's shot went agonisingly inches wide with Dieseruvwe unable to stretch out enough to get a final touch. Wrexham had chances too when Crocombe did brilliantly well to tip over a McFadzean shot, before Palmer twice failed to convert headers. Cropper made a good challenge on McFadzean as the Wrexham player threatened to go clear. The final act of the 90 minutes came when another Cropper arm bomb almost worked but desperate defensive dives and blocks kept town out, and so after 90 minutes the score remained level: Wrexham 4, Town 4. Extra time beckoned.
Pearson replaced Amos for extra time as Town lined up with three at the back, no doubt to reduce the threat from long throws and set pieces. On 94 minutes Wrexham had an appeal for a penalty when Davies turned Pearson and fell over. It was a throw nevertheless but Town cleared it. Town then battled to get forward after great work by Fox. Abrahams battled with the defender but the referee penalised Abrahams for a foul. This fussy referee wasn't great. Here on my opinion of the referee I agreed with commentator Adam Virgo, who himself like the teams here today had put on a good performance. Young was then booked for scything down the advancing Clifton. Inevitably both teams were showing signs of tiredness as the game became more ragged and goalmouth incidents were fewer. On 110 minutes, a Cropper throw was cleared. The ball returned to Fox who played a good ball through to Dieseruvwe but Town's striker couldn't get his balance when turning, and the shot was weak. Raikhy replaced Holohan on 111 minutes for Town. More nice build-up work led to Sousa laying off Cropper on the right. Cropper cut inside but his shot rebounded off Abrahams with plenty of options in the box as Town looked to gain a winner. Palmer was then booked for fouling Smith after a mistimed tackle, as all the players were showing signs of running on air.
The second period of extra time started with a Tozer throw. The ball came out to the left but the impressive Crocombe got up well to catch the cross. The game continued to be scrappy but both sides were working hard. A Raikhy foul led to a Wrexham attack. Town cleared. Town countered. Dieseruvwe, whose control like Taylor before him had been excellent, found Sousa in the middle. Abrahams was clear on the left and received the pass from Sousa. Abrahams advanced but his shot was disappointingly poor, hitting the side netting. This was a wasted chance. Town advanced on 114 minutes. Sousa was fouled but instead of letting the move continue, the referee stopped play. The ball bounced in the box and Young blocked a shot. The game was winding down, but on 118 minutes Town won a throw near deep in the Wrexham half. The defender messed about, trying to put off Cropper who eventually launched his throw deep into the penalty area. Waterfall saw his opportunity and smashed his header into the bottom corner. Wrexham 4, Town 5. Two minutes were added. Crocombe caught a Tozer throw. One final Wrexham shot was fired over and that was it. Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 5! Wonderland in Wales.
And after all that, Town are in the play-off final with a 50 / 50 chance of regaining our place in the English Football League. I've been critical of our play at times this season but there's never been any doubt that the team has a good work rate. The last two games have been a revelation as Town have stepped up several notches in their quality and maturity of play. What we have seen is oceans of spirit, intensity from the start, invention, flair and high quality, all-round team play with a squad of players enabling further options to be added. Wrexham may have American owners and to be fair played well themselves, but it was Town who ultimately provided the Hollywood razzle-dazzle. This is what we've been waiting for, and what a time for the team to start performing like this. It's not going to be easy because all three teams left are looking for the prize of promotion, but all we want is one more stellar performance like today's.
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