Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
By: Andrew Doherty
STRANGE things are happening. Before the Northampton game, there was a piece from a sponsor from Project Pie when speaking about one of his products that "everyone in Grimsby loves a roast chicken dinner". Do they? Is this fake news?
As a child and a teenager and beyond, I can't ever remember having a chicken dinner and questioned the steward about this as I entered the ground for the recent Northampton game. Admittedly it was a poll of one but he did agree with me. Lincolnshire has far more noteworthy products. But that day people walked by with their pies in a box, so maybe my version of reality is different. I can now confirm that it is. My mate Andy alerted me this week to the bang bang satay sauce lathered fries that are on offer in the ground. Do they mean chips? My mother used to talk about getting a good lather but that was to do with soap, not chips. It seems the owners are looking to make Blundell Park into a gourmet Mecca. Not in the Findus I understand, where ironically burn-your-mouth pies are still the norm. I must say there's nothing wrong with expanding the cuisine, and full credit is due to the club for providing the options and improving the experience, but somehow in my head the summer-inspired chicken, lemon and thyme pie and the lathered fries go against the cost of living crisis or real life in general. And as the much-quoted saying goes, it doesn't bring you three points on a Saturday, as if these things were somehow connected. Food Heaven? Maybe for some. Football Heaven? Now we're talking.
At least there was some football after biblical rain forced the abandonment of the Carlisle game in midweek. Town's line up today was: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon - Kiernan, Holohan, Green, Morris, Wearne - Taylor. Taylor isn't a number 9 in the traditional sense so it could be argued we have a "False 9" to use modern vernacular, or perhaps it's just a mystery 9 to confuse everyone including the manager and the opposition. I make no comment on today's opponents Sutton United because I actually know nothing about them, but they certainly held their own in League 2 last season and at the risk of sounding like Paul Hurst are not a team to be taken lightly. In fact I do sound like Paul Hurst because he announced in the style of a BBC weather forecaster that we must be wary. 6,239 spectators attended today.
In windy conditions, Town struggled for the first half hour against the expected well-organised and physical Sutton side. The visitors in yellow, spurred on by 105 supporters who managed to beat the rail strikes, had the upper hand. Town sought to gain a foothold, with Holohan the most influential player but Sutton looked the more cohesive, with Efete having to work hard to counter the threat from Neufville on the left and a number of fouls being conceded. A poor back pass by Waterfall on 20 minutes almost led to disaster for Town but Crocombe made a save from Wilson. Although Town had more possession statistically, the performance was patchy and Sutton were having the better opportunities. On 35 minutes Town broke and Taylor was fouled. Glennon's free kick struck the wall - corner to Town. The ball went straight in from the corner but the referee saw a foul in Sutton's favour. Holohan followed up with a shot which went just over the bar a couple of minutes later. Just before half time, Town attacked. Kiernan won the ball, and found Wearne whose pass back to Kiernan wasn't great. Town won a corner and then another. Holohan found Green who found Smith who got a header in, but offside was given. At half-time it remained 0 - 0, with Town needing to up their game.
Bang, bang. As the players took rest, sucked on their oranges if that's what they still do while the managers communicated their tactical thoughts for the second half, some supporters set about demolishing their deluxe scotch eggs, birria brisket quesadilla with homemade guacamole, lathered fries and gourmet pies. Sausage rolls are advertised as available in the Family Lounge and some sweets for the children. Jelly and ice cream as well? I don't know. I wasn't there. To my knowledge on the menu there is sadly no "half and half" which my friend Mike swears by - half a fried rice and a half portion of chips. Maybe next time the Blundell Park Centre of Street Food will extend to this international fusion. Or perhaps a chips wrap with a sweet and sour dip. A bit of nasi lemak and mee goreng would be nice too.
Poor quality marked the start of the second half as Town attacked the Pontoon end. Wearne and Holohan committed fouls as Sutton deprived Town's players of space. Holohan was booked. Town weren't showing signs of improvement and were resorting to balls up to Taylor who had no support. Sutton were winning the tactical battle as the game operated on their terms. A lay-off from Taylor on 57 minutes started a good move which led to a corner. To address Town's malaise, on 60 minutes Pepple replaced Kiernan, giving two up front, while at the same time Clifton replaced Morris. Immediately Town had an attack involving Pepple. The ball was peppered out to the right, from where Efete sent in a dangerous cross which evaded everyone. Sutton had a trio of corners but nothing came of them. Town conceded another corner on 69 minutes but the chance was headed over. Town still weren't firing and were guilty of losing too much possession and conceding too many free-kicks. On 70 minutes Town conceded yet another corner and initially struggled to clear it but managed to work the ball upfield. A mistake by Milsom saw Pepple clear - a chance for Town but one-on-one with the goalkeeper Rose, Pepple showed his inexperience and took too long, allowing Rose to make a save. Town gained a corner but nothing came of it. On 75 minutes Maguire-Drew replaced Wearne. Soon after Waterfall committed a foul in Town's half but then a Sutton player committed a foul following Boldewijn's free-kick and the danger was over. It was a game of giving the ball away. On 81 minutes Pepple had a chance when he cut inside but his shot was saved. Town continued to attack with Glennon and Clifton combining, winning a throw. From Pepple's header was met with ease. Both sides were now attempting to win the game as the clock ran down. Sutton's Smith had a shot saved by Crocombe before Clifton had a shot for Town following good work by Maguire-Drew. On 85 minutes a foul on Waterfall by Kouassi led to an altercation resulting in Green earning a booking for afters. As the 90 minute mark approached, Maguire-Drew combined with Pepplle and Holohan on the edge of the Sutton box but the move broke down, and Green did well to stop a Sutton attack. Kizzi and Eastmond combined on the right for Sutton but the threat ended when Glennon was fouled. Pepple was then adjudged to be offside after a pass from Waterfall as Town attacked. Sutton countered but Kouassi's cross was poor. Town came back. Pepple supplied Taylor but Taylor's touch was poor and Rose saved the shot. The game ended 0 - 0. Neither side could complain in this game of poor quality, copious fouls, swirling wind and few clear chances. "Not a game to remember" was my mate Andy's summary of it. So that was it. Let's eat.
Thoughts of promotion may be pie in the sky, particularly on the basis of this goal-free performance but It's early days still. In the true spirit of juxtaposition, it may yet happen that we eat luxuriously in harmonious tandem with golden silky feasts of football on the fields of Blundell Park. Or stick to pie, chips and mushy peas as we know it. Half and half even. On the pitch, the basics are what we need to work on. Food for thought indeed.
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