Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
|Battered is best|
Battering the Blues
By: Andrew Doherty
A WEEK ago, today's game would have looked daunting with Gillingham having conceded no goals, and Town's goals being based on defensive errors or Eisa thunderbolts. Then Gillingham lost 0 - 3 at home to Colchester, while a number of their players were involved in a car crash.
Some sort of parity seems to have been restored. Even so, It's not going to be a bed of Roses or Eisas for Town, as the Gills haven't suddenly become bad, and Town themselves need to play without fear and avoid the sluggish team and individual performances to which we have become routinely accustomed. This said, it's far from unremitting gloom. We have league points in the bag, and in patches we showed we can play and raise the intensity.
Town's starting XI on this pleasant summer's day was: Eastwood - Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Amos - Conteh - Gnahoua, Holohan, Clifton, Eisa - Rose.. Nothing adventurous there. Gillingham in their dashing blue and white shirts went into a huddle. My concern was why they all seemed to be named Piso, which was on the back of their shirts. On the front was Bauvill. Bovril and Pizza? It's a mystery. Town won two corners in the first minute. Ten minutes of scrappiness followed. On 10 minutes an Eisa layoff to Amos led to a corner. Gnahoua delivered. Maher ran in and flicked his header across the goal and into the net. 1 - 0 to Town. The game went into a lull but on 17 minutes a nice pass from Rose found Eisa who won a corner. Gnahoua crossed but Clifton couldn't keep his shot down. Gillingham had a dangerous spell when Maher expertly shook off Nichols before Eastwood made a hash of the clearance, only for Nadesan to waste the opportunity by firing into the Pontoon back rows. Eastwood was at fault again when after taking a cross comfortably, he struck the back of Maher with his clearance but again Nadesan wasted the chance. Nervous times. On 24 minutes Nadesan was allowed through but Amos did well to make a block as Nichols was ready to pounce. On 24 minutes Town pressed from the right. Rose did well and found Eisa who carefully placed a pass into the path of the charging Holohan. There was no mistake about the shot. 2 - 0 to Town. It was nice to see a team goal. Nice trickery by Clifton on 30 minutes led to indecision. But Town continued to press and Ehmer was forced to make a desperate block. Clifton then was sent through, finding Eisa whose curling shot was blocked. Gnahoua crossed but Mullarkey's attempt was too high. Town then launched another attack but Eisa's control let him down. Gillingham broke and Rodger's did well to cut out Malone's cross. But this was Town's half. Town we're playing with confidence. Gillingham looked potentially dangerous but we're making mistakes.
Three minutes after the restart, Gnahoua did brilliantly, shaking off a defender, cutting inside and finding Rose whose shot was tipped away by Turner. Ehmer was then lucky to get away with a horrible tackle on Conteh. Rose was guilty of poor control as Town attacked. Eisa then took advantage of a poor free-kick and set up another wave of attack. A turn by Mullarkey led to an over-hit cross, but Town were dominating beleaguered Gillingham and were full of tricks. Even Amos pulled off an audacious scoop pass. Gillingham were playing like a team which was full of pizza and Bovril. On 64 minutes we had the moment we had been waiting for - an Eisa run and thunderbolt. Unfortunately he was unable to keep it down. At the other end the impressive Gnahoua did well to shake off Malone who lurked 5 yards out. Gillingham won a corner on 68 minutes. But Town we're defending with determination. Super play from Gnahoua found Eisa who with no backlift fired a left-footed shot and almost knocked Turner off his feet. Amos then found Clifton who dangerous cross evaded everyone. Gnahoua again retrieved the ball. Town were now playing the ball around like Brazil. "What's happened to my team?", exclaimed the incredulous lady next to me. Eisa attempted a curler which went just wide with everyone beaten. If Town lost the ball, then Holohan, Gnahoua and Clifton noticeably tracked back to provide defensive strength in numbers. The defensive unit was playing with confidence already even without the welcome support. Gillingham we're powerless and we're being reduced to rubbish. Barring the few from Gillingham whose number was reduced by the rail strike, the crowd of 6,479 were enjoying this. After Rose was hauled over and Town won a free-kick, the ball came and Maher got a looping header on it. The ball went just over the bar. On 83 minutes a horrendous error by Mullarkey allowed Mahoney to break clear but Rodgers did well to get his heel on the shot. The corner was delivered. Rodger's was fouled and the danger had passed. Rose then failed to capitalise on an appalling defensive lapse by Gillingham but showed poor control and overran the ball. Gillingham attacked. Malone's attempt was pushed away by Eastwood but there was no-one to follow it up. As Town won a throw deep in Gillingham territory with 88 minutes gone, Andrews and Pyke came on to replace Holohan and Gnahoua. 4 minutes were added, and the only incident of note was Amos being booked for a silly challenge. The game ended: Grimsby Town 2, Gillingham 0. It was a deserved victory.
To their credit, Town didn't "do a Bradford" where last year we unsuccessfully tried to defend a lead for 30 minutes. Instead Town didn't defend but without taking risks kept control of the game, having 55% to 60% of possession throughout the game. It was great to see dead ball kicks causing problems, thanks to Gnahoua who was my man of the match on account of his gargantuan contribution. Town as a team played with purpose and flair, and in doing so rendered Gillingham ineffective. In short, Town dominated and the snazzy Blues were battered.
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