League Two Table
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|That's All Folks|
Pause for Applause
By: Andrew Doherty
I DON'T know what I'm going to moan about after today but I'm sure I'll find something.
It's the final game of the season and it's a ritual to moan about everything - poor performances, individual players, failure to make substitutions and "freshen things up", team selection, ticketing policy and so on.
Yet some things deserve recognition. Off the field, I think there's work to do as the stadium needs an uplift in spite of attempts to uplift the "customer experience", something I haven't really noticed from the Main Stand, but the ticket office, ground staff and stewards have always been good and continue to be so. On the pitch, after the fiasco of relegation to the National League two years ago it's remarkable that we should finish halfway up EFL League 2, even before we throw in the unexpected bonus and excitement of an FA Cup run. I've never minded who we play but playing Bradford is a step up from King's Lynn. Today we face AFC Wimbledon, whose history has been colourful to say the least. After looking towards the upper end of the table for the first half of the season, they have dropped off dramatically, but are safe. For both teams, today is about playing for pride.
Flags flew. People clapped. I was asked what we were clapping for. It wasn't obvious. The rain fell. The teams came on the pitch. The happy clappery continued as people got out of their seats to greet the teams in anticipation. Town's team today was: Crocombe - Emmanuel, Smith, Pearson, Maher, Glennon - Clifton, Hunt, Khouri - Orsi, Lloyd. As a well-received move, we saw the return of Shaun Pearson for the final time as a player. Harry Clifton, our Player of the Year, was acclaimed as a hero - as I see it, only he and Waterfall were in the running, and both deserve recognition for their efforts. Nasty Harry, Wimbledon's Harry Pell, was injured so mercifully he wasn't playing. Lloyd Griffiths, who I thought was a comedian, sang the National Anthem very nicely. Time for another round of applause. "Let's make noise for the boys" proclaimed the announcer. We had the claps again. Let the sideshow begin.
The game started scrappily. Upon 8 minutes a quality cross-field pass from Smith found Glennon who pushed it into the middle, from where it was pushed outside to Orsi. The angle was narrow. Orsi's shot span off Ogundere's leg and over keeper Broome and into the net. Town 1, Wimbledon 0. Emmanuel then forced a desperate defensive header which Orsi couldn't reach before the outcoming Broome. On 11 minutes a Woodyard interception found Wimbledon's Sam Pearson but our own Superman Pearson headed clear with authority. Town were playing neat passing football with Clifton and Hunt in particular orchestrating play. The crowd went quiet as they concentrated on the developing on-pitch battle. On 16 minutes a great through ball from Smith - we shall miss him - saw Khouri running on to the ball in the box but the defender got there first. Lloyd battled to win a corner, then Broome failed to control a back pass with Clifton homing in. The game then through an injury phase. Town went down to 10 men as Lloyd had to go off for a head injury. Clifton got clattered in the meantime and left the field as Lloyd returned with his bandaged head. Khouri then got flattened. As he was receiving attention, Clifton came off looking dazed. Holohan replaced Clifton who left the field to warm applause. Khouri almost sent Glennon away. Davison then kicked Maher on the head in an increasingly physical contest. On 30 minutes a long clearance by Crocombe led to great battling work by Lloyd, whose layoff to Orsi resulted in an abortive attempt to turn and shoot. Wimbledon moved up quickly. The threat was denied by a great tackle from Hunt who was having a good game today. Town were looking lively while Wimbledon weren't posing much threat. Sam Pearson supplied Davison who beat Glennon but a combination of a poor touch and good defending saw Shaun Pearson being fouled. Glennon was then booked for a body check on Ogundere. The game became patchy again as a log of fouls were being committed, in part due to the game's combative nature and in part due to the slippery pitch, Following one foul Chislett found Nightingale's head, leading to a corner before Crocombe gathered easily. It was then Town's turn for a corner after a quick break involving Holohan and Glennon. Orsi meanwhile was smashed in the face in midfield. And Pell wasn't even playing. Glennon's free kick delivery was terrible, belting it directly out of play and continuing where he left off at Stevenage with his dead ball disasters. On 42 minutes Ogundere was booked for pushing Khouri in the face as he broke free to run up the left. Sam Pearson then provided Davison who with Crocombe to beat was fortunately called for offside. Khouri and Maher committed fouls on the embattled Ogundere and Davison as the game continued to be physical. As 4 minutes were added to the first half, Holohan showed alertness, cutting out a move between Chislett and ex-Mariner Jaiyesimi before a Jaiyesimi cross resulted in a foul on McAteer 35 yards out. Wimbledon finished the stronger of the two teams but Town had shown good energy throughout the half.
At half time the Town Ladies' team went round the pitch to show off the league trophy they have just won, receiving a big hand to acknowledge their success. Back in the game, Town won an early corner but Wimbledon had the first chance when Crocombe tipped a crisp volley wide from Davison. Wimbledon won a corner on 49 minutes when Smith maturely went safety first in conceding it rather than risk fouling McAteer. A nice interception by Emmanuel then started a Town move on the left involving Glennon and Lloyd. Smith then cut out an attack by Currie, but the game was going into torpor as the end of the season loomed large. "I wonder if anyone will fall to sleep", commented my wife on the lack of animation in the crowd and on the pitch. Glennon did something to wake us up by committing a defensive error which resulted in a Davison shot. It went wide. Wimbledon pushed forward. The impressive Smith cut out a Pearson cross, Chislett's delivery from the corner led to nothing We needed something to clap about. It came on 64 minutes when Pearson was replaced by Khan. Now here was something worth acclaiming. The crowd acknowledged Pearson's long service and loyalty. Wimbledon's Woodard also deserves credit for acknowledging Pearson on his way off the pitch. Back to the game: Town needed to step up their play as Wimbledon were making all the play at this stage but lacked quality. Town managed a quick break on 72 minutes as the action finally moved to the Pontoon end. Khan surged forward, supplying Holohan whose shot was pushed away. Wimbledon's defence had got back and Lloyd's shot was blocked. A Khouri error gave McAteer an opportunity to shoot, before the fresh-legged Khan showed his pace but Orsi couldn't get a proper connection with his head from the cross. 75 minutes had gone. The cold rain came down. Town made a triple substitution, Efete, Green and O'Neill replacing Emmanuel, Khouri and Lloyd. On 79 minutes Wimbledon had a shout for a penalty which was rejected after McAteer looked to be pushed. The same player was then sent through but Crocombe showed great anticipation, getting to the ball first. Town were hanging on. The crowd was announced: 6,733 including 367 Wimbledon fans who received applause from the home fans. Now applauding away fans who have made their way to games through thick and thin is a nice touch and welcome legacy from our recent non-league days. On 83 minutes Holohan and Khan worked together. Khan patiently looked for space before supplying Hunt whose shot was well saved. On 88 minutes Khan showed great energy again, putting in a great cross which the keeper made a hash of. The game had been in and out. Aside from odd moments not much was happening in spite of the endeavour being shown. Wimbledon had become more direct in their play and as 4 minutes were added, a cross came in and Bartley was on hand to receive it. His shot narrowly failed to clear the top of the Osmond stand. Nightingale received a yellow card for clipping Holohan, but there was no further meaningful action. It ended: Grimsby Town 1, AFC Wimbledon 0. It wasn't the greatest spectacle but it was a hard-fought victory and Town had shown plenty of spirit.
It was the end of the game and season. We applauded once more. Do people like clapping? It wasn't cold. We don't need to keep our hands warm. Do they do this in Belgium, or Sweden or Outer Mongolia? It wouldn't have mattered what the score was. I always find this a strange ritual that we applaud them, and they applaud us for every piece of routine activity. Call me a miserable git, and most people do, I certainly don't understand why people stand up and applaud players who (a) are limbering up (b) are leaving or (c) have just put in a suboptimal performance. Applause now happens because the season has ended, or because players are warming up, coming on the field, coming off the field, standing on the pitch or any occasion really so long as they're wearing the right colours. The self-defined "occasion" is the thing, it seems. Even when the team has performed well isn't really reason to burst into applause at the end. No-one has ever applauded me at work or at the end of a shift. It would be strange if they did. They'd usually just moan about something I haven't done. All this said, it's nice to applaud success and loyalty. Today we had Shaun Pearson, Harry Clifton, the Ladies' team and a victory to celebrate. 11th place at the end of the season is reason to be satisfied. This season has gone according to expectation, beyond it to some extent. We now have a gap in our lives to be filled. We'll have to find out something to clap about that's not football-related, not that much of the ritualistic applause in season has anything to do with exceptional sporting performance. So now we look forward to transfer news, pre-season friendlies and the fixture list. See you soon, missing you already and looking forward to the new season when we can resume our manual approbation of you as you come onto the pitch for the next campaign.
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