League Two Form Guide
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What a Performance
By: Andrew Doherty
I FEEL sorry for Messrs Pearson and Davies. These good people have the task in the short term of bringing together a group of players whose talent in a number of cases seems to have deserted them, and to whom slick interplay is a totally alien concept except for the briefest of moments.
I don't subscribe at all to the view that the players are not trying. When I see the likes of Rose and Clifton fighting for the ball, I don't worry about the work rate, but some of the players seem paralysed. The movement could be better, and because of this, we don't spread opposition teams enough. We lack control as a team over positioning and pace of play. When moves start, there's an inevitability that someone will overhit, misplace or mistime a pass, reach a misunderstanding or find themselves hemmed in with no one to pass to. Leadership and direction on the pitch are missing as our players run around like school children on the playground seemingly without a plan. It seems like we've spent too much time worrying about the opposition and having no objective of our own. So what our interim managers can do is identify a leader, practice ball retention and movement, and free up the players to play and compete instead of wondering what to do. But you'd think and expect that this was happening already. None of these things provides a happy backdrop as we approached our latest venture at Blundell Park against Morecambe, who after relegation last year seem to be in their stride, currently sitting in 6th place in the league. "We need a performance", commented my mate Andy Humbo during the week. I wasn't optimistic that we were going to get one.
The Town team was: Cartwright - Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Glennon - Holohan, Green, Andrews, Khan - Pyke, Rose. Boosted by the welcome £5 offer, 5,939 spectators were here today.
Unusually Town attacked the Pontoon end in the first half. One minute passed. Cartwright played out a goal kick. Town collectively forgot to move. McKiernan saw a gap in the middle. Mayor collected the ball amid Town's static defence and coolly slotted the ball past Cartwright after 77 seconds of play. Town 0, the reds of Morecambe 1. Andrews recovered possession after Morecambe passed the ball around, setting up Khan for a run. Rose shot wide. A succession of Town corners culminated in Green heading wide. On 10 minutes another defence-splitting pass by Morecambe saw Slew laying off to Mayor. Cartwright challenged and won the ball. To Mayor's credit he didn't go down with a penalty claim. Mayor was then the provider but Slew's angle was too tight. Rose was booked for a dubious foul and dissent. Town passed the ball around but looked like they were going nowhere. On 18 minutes Khan got behind the defence and found Andrews who crossed into the path of the unchallenged Holohan. From 12 yards Holohan stabbed the ball over. Khan then had another run and fired in a curler which keeper Smith pushed wide for a corner. Town went close again when Andrews and Khan found space on the left. Keeper Smith gathered the ball on the goal line. Green was then dispossessed. Bloxham crossed and won a corner. Senior supplied Bloxham whose shot was deflected. Andrews battled to win possession, before Khan put in another curler which was less accurate than the previous one. Town were moving the ball around but unable to breach the defence. Khan and Glennon in particular were working well on the left but it all seemed to be individual rather than collective endeavour. Morecambe looked far more fluid in attack. Rodger's gave the ball away. Bloxham crossed to earn a corner. Town broke. Holohan found Khan who passed to a defender. Ah, Grimsby Disease. On 38 minutes following a free kick 30 yards out Khan found Holohan's head but Smith saved comfortably. Nice play from Morecambe led to Mayor delivering a cross which Cartwright covered well. Town went close when Andrews battled to send Khan away. Rose was in the middle. Khan's cross caused chaos but not enough chaos for Town to score. A free kick on the right following a shirt pull by Tutonda led to a Glennon delivery, finding Rose's head but it went just wide. Green then showed good control in the middle of the park, finding Holohan who ran into trouble and was pushed wide before poleaxing Senior with an inaccurate shot. The half ended. Town 0, Morecambe 1. Town played ok, especially on the left side but Morecambe looked more comfortable on the ball.
Town attacked immediately as the second half began. Glennon danced through the defence, leading to a Ross shot. Smith palmed the ball away and Bedeau cleared with no Town player in attendance. With 46 minutes gone Town won a corner on the left. The ball came across from Glennon. Smith dropped it and Rose hooked the ball home from close range. 1 - 1. Two minutes later Andrews won a free kick around the half way mark inside the Morecambe half. Glennon floated the ball to Rose on the right. Rose passed the ball across for the advancing Green to guide it home from 6 yards. Town 2, Morecambe 1. Morecambe had switched off and Town had taken advantage. Town now had a surge of energy about their play following this upturn in events. Morecambe presented a threat on 54 minutes when Mayor ran through the defence, resulting in a corner. McKiernan then waltzed through the midfield, supplying Slew who went close with a fierce shot. On 57 Clifton replaced Andrews who went off to great applause after a good display today. Immediately Town started a move. Holohan passed out to the left where Glennon found space and crossed low for Pyke to run on and score. Town 3, Morecambe 1. Five minutes later Town attacked again. Holohan crossed. Pyke turned and would have scored if not for a great save by Smith. Town were playing with confidence, energy and spirit. Morecambe launched an attack on 65 minutes which Town's defence struggled to clear. Cartwright's clearance was poor but Town's keeper made amends by pulling off a great save from Slew's goal-bound attempt. Eisa replaced Khan on 70 minutes. Holohan was in the action, looking to be body-checked as Town advanced but although no foul was given, Town won a corner. Morecambe broke following the corner and Holohan received a yellow card for tripping Mellon. Town weren't resting on their laurels and continued to press forward where they could. On 77 minutes Rose, after a spectacular swivel, had a less than spectacular attempt to chip the keeper from range. On 79 minutes Hunt and Wilson came on to replace Glennon and Pyke. This meant one less defender but as Town moved forward, the defence looked more solid. King had a shot which rebounded off legs but Morecambe were looking like they were tiring as Town entered a battling phase, having battled all match in midfield. But Morecambe weren't done. On 85 minutes, as Town's opponents moved forward in numbers King looked to shoot, but passed wide to Slew who crossed for McKiernan to bundle the ball home and silence the crowd. Town 3, Morecambe 2. Just before 6 minutes were added, nice work by Mullarkey led to Wilson receiving the ball and laying off a pass to Rose whose dipped shot from distance was poor and wasteful. These were nervous times as Morecambe pressed for an equaliser. McKiernan broke. Cartwright pulled off an excellent save from King. Rodger's blocked a shot from Davenport. Songo'o had a clear header but it was weak and Cartwright saved. Walker then fired wide as Morecambe piled on the pressure. But Town resisted it, and so it ended: Grimsby Town 3, Morecambe 2.
"What a time to be alive!" exclaimed a supporter as we left the ground. Well this is football and we are talking about Grimsby. Personally, I just felt relieved and of course, pleased that we had broken the negative spell and performed with confidence and flair for a period of the second half after taking advantage of an error to get back in the game. I saw character from Green, Holohan and Andrews in midfield and flair from Khan, but what pleased me most of all was the improvement in our dead-ball play. Glennon in particular deserves praise for this and his overall play. I was reminded of outgoing manager Paul Hurst's extremely gracious valedictory message, in which he said he'd like to see the players he recruited flourish and live up to their potential. I'm sure we all share that view. We saw signs of that potential in today's second half performance. Maybe it is a great time to be alive. We'll see as the season progresses, but at least today we got the much-wanted performance and result.
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