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Despair
Despair

Not Such a Good Friday

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 07/04/2023

AS the long season draws on, we continue to play meaningless fixtures. Today's fixture is far from meaningless for our opponents Hartlepool, to whom we gifted three points back in October.

Recent performances haven't been bad but the lesson that Town need to be learning is how to hold on to a lead. Now's not a bad time to be learning this. One way of not doing it is wasting time with 30 minutes to go as we did a Bradford. All this tells me and opponents is how little belief we have in ourselves.

The team today was: Crocombe - Efete, Maher, Waterfall, Smith, Amos - Green - Hunt, Holohan, Khan - Lloyd. After last week's defeat, Mr Hurst made the opaque comment that getting a centre forward who scores a lot of goals might upset the balance of the team. The thing is that having two centre forwards who don't score a lot of goals doesn't seem to do much either. Of Taylor and Lloyd, I personally prefer Lloyd who runs around a lot whereas Taylor holds the ball up better but lacks speed and anticipation. So in my humble opinion, going with one main striker was the right call, and promised improvement in our ground movement.

1,182 fervent supporters came from Hartlepool, who were well up for it today. The crowd on this Good Friday was 7,425, so a good turnout all round, but it remained to be seen how much Town's supporters and team wanted victory today. Town kicked off, aiming towards the Osmond end as usual. Nice day, languid football. Town looked marginally the stronger in the initial period but both sides were devoid of inspiration and trotted out error-strewn football. Umerah broke but he wasn't getting past Waterfall. Lloyd did well to shake off the defender on the left side and found Khan whose crisp shot was palmed away for a corner. The ball came out to Holohan whose shot was weak. On 18 minutes Town had an attack after good initial work again by Lloyd. Khan messed up his cross. Hartlepool struggled to clear the threat but Green misplaced his pass. Hartlepool went up the other end. With Efete out of position, Town's defence was beaten for pace. Ferguson advanced and spotted Kemp in the middle outside the box. Kemp swivelled and sweetly struck a left-footed shot past the outstretched Crocombe. Town 0, Pools 1. Town were coming undone already. There was a visible lack of communication and ball control. Pn display was a catalogue of unforced errors. Crocombe emphasised the point by clearing into touch instead of to Smith, then Holohan managed to pass the ball to a Hartlepool defender with Khan and Lloyd available and threatening to break through. Smith pulled off a great interception which led to a throw from which Green's weak back header found the keeper. Town had slowed down their play but the quality had got worse. The midfield was misfiring, Green and Hunt in particular were guilty of wayward passing, Khan was off the pace. On 35 minutes, Hartlepool who weren't contributing much, won a corner which Lloyd cleared robustly. Hartlepool won a free kick on 37 minutes. A moment of comedy ensued as Kemp and Cooke both left the ball behind. But it was no use as Town recovered the ball, only to give it away immediately. On 39 minutes Green and then Hunt had blocked shots but no damage was done other than taking the wind out of defender Murray. Khan finally showed some skill on 41 minutes but Maher's resultant shot was disappointing and predictable. It remained 0 - 1 at half time. Hartlepool weren't doing anything. Town were beating themselves. It had to get better.

McAtee and Taylor came on for Holohan and Smith for the second half. It was Hartlepool however who started with the greater intent, Kemp being unable to keep his balance after being sent through. Ferguson put in a dangerous low cross from which Town broke. McAtee was unable to find Khan. Town continued to press. Taylor had a shot blocked. Then McAtee's shot was blocked. A cross came into Waterfall whose header was cleared. On 53 minutes Maher played a suicidal back pass to Crocombe whose only option was to despatch it into the Findus stand. Town recovered the ball, and worked the ball upfield. With Taylor on hand to provide distraction and Khan involved, Lloyd saw the gap for Efete to run into. Efete was clear and coolly placed the ball under keeper Stolarcyk to make it 1 -1. Town now had some energy. Khan broke. Lloyd won a corner. Hunt's delivery found Waterfall's head. The header went just wide. The game had now opened up. On 62 minutes Taylor was dragged back in the opposition half. Hartlepool struggled to clear Khan's cross. Lloyd then supplied Efete whose powered shot rose and cleared the bar. A Lloyd interception then resulted in McAtee being sent clear but the away defender was in quickly to stop the attack. On 66 minutes, Hartlepool attacked. McDonald entered the box. Efete went in for the tackle. Both players finished in a heap. Penalty to Hartlepool. Kemp fired a beauty to Crocombe's right. Town 1, Pools 2. Town's response was a cross from Amos direct to the keeper. Hunt, Waterfall and Crocombe then made a dog's breakfast of securing the ball at the back, resulting in a trademark Crocombe sliced clearance out of play deep in Town's half. This led to a Hartlepool attack up the left. McDonald crossed to Kemp on the inside of the box. Kemp turned and slammed the ball home for his hat-trick. Town 1, Pools 3. 75 minutes had gone. After a Town attack, the ball was cleared out of defence. Amos didn't know what to do. Umerah did, took charge, ran on from the halfway line. shook off the defender, rounded Crocombe and passed it into the net to make it 1 - 4. Morris replaced Green moments later. McAtee did force a save out of the keeper but it was all futile. Town created nothing further, having spent most of the game floundering. Apart from a few bright minutes in the second half, it was an inept performance against a motivated team who barely had to break sweat. So it ended: Grimsby Town 1, Hartlepool United 4.

Hartlepool's supporters had a party. For Town's supporters, it was Frustration Friday. Woeful, deficient, incoherent, unacceptable, shameful .... it's a game of adjectives. I don't know what pearl of wisdom Mr Hurst will come out with to describe this fiasco, but this wasn't just a set of individual errors. Spectators, who had paid for this punishment, left early in droves. It was a collective failing, both from the team and management point of view. Hartlepool stuck at it. Smith showed skill in the first half and Lloyd worked tirelessly throughout but the overall product from Town was abject. We cannot rely on earning points from 10 minutes of energy and then expect to get through with misplaced passing and poor control for the rest. So not such a Good Friday. Hopefully Town will pull their socks up and it'll be a better Monday.

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