The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

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Another point
Another point

A Dour Do in Gillingham

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 16/03/2024

THE last time I visited Gillingham was in 1979. We won 1-0. It was a grey day and it was a dismal place. It's a dismal place now. At the start of this season the home side were one of the favourites for promotion, and in spite of patchy form recently are still not far off a play-off place now.

We meanwhile are still seeking to dig ourselves out of the mire of relegation, but in the last few games have shown real signs of improvement, including an impressive win over Milton Keynes on Tuesday. It seems an awfully long time since we secured an impressive 2 - 0 home victory over Gillingham, and with it we raised high hopes that have not been realised over the course of the season, but at least for today's game and beyond we had reason to be optimistic again.

Town, wearing red today, lined up with: Cartwright - Clifton, Mullarkey, Tharme, Rodgers, Hume - Holohan, Green, Thompson - Wilson, Obikwu. The ground had been spruced up a bit since I was last here but it's still a depressing place with scaffolding holding up the away end. The town centre was awful, the steward who searched me was unfriendly, the sky was overcast, it was getting colder, the pre-match music took us back to the 1970s .... let's return to 2024 and get on with the football. 6,065 were here to witness it, including just over 400 Town fans.

Town had a nice move early on when Obikwu supplied Holohan whose cross was cleared. The signs suggested an expansive game. Gillingham attacked quickly. Mahoney crossed to Lapslie's head, resulting in a corner. So far there was a lot of running around but little sign of end product. In 13 minutes Mahoney delivered a corner straight to Cartwright. Town now broke quickly. Holohan ran through a gap in the middle and placed the ball left through to Wilson who ran wide, too wide, but no as from the left Wilson shot to the right-hand side. Keeper Morris seemed to get a hand on it but the shot ran into the corner. Gillingham 0, Town 1. A minute later Gillingham had an attack. Dieng put in a cross from the left. With players jostling in the box, Tharme fell down and Lapslie volleyed home from close range to make it 1 - 1. On 20 minutes Clifton was booked for a foul on Gillingham's right. Following a Hutton cross, the diminutive Jonny Williams aimed a header on target. Rodgers was on hand to clear the ball off the line. Cartwright then used his height to reach and collect a header from Dieng. Gillingham were now getting into their stride. A poor clearance by Mahoney gave Town some respite and led to an attack. Clifton won a free kick on the right after a tussle. Holohan found Thompson ahead of the defence. Thompson's flicked header caused momentary excitement but offside was given. Cartwright made a punched save following a long-range shot from Clark before Rodgers cleared a cross from the same player. Town won a free kick as they worked the ball clear. There was a lot of needle between the players, with Thompson and Lapslie at the heart of it. The referee administered counselling. Gillingham were swinging the ball around, passing well and threatening Town with dangerous crosses. A Town attack saw a clever Wilson back flick catch out everyone including the intended receiver Obikwu. When Town had possession, good control was shown but this was a battle for possession which Gillingham were winning. Rodgers did well to rob Mahoney but Obikwu was unable to gain control before running on. Town pressed. Wilson and Green battled, earning a throw which Tharme took. The ball was floated in for Obikwu to flick on, which he did, but Morris made a save. Holohan then had a chance but screwed his shot wide. Three minutes were added. Gillingham had one attack which ended when the ball hit Williams's arm. 1 - 1 at half time.

Eisa and Gnahoua replaced Obikwu and Clifton for the second half. Tharrme did well to clear threats twice, first from a Hutton cross and then from Mahoney. Town put together a promising attack, working the ball upfield but on receiving Wilson's pass, Green was too slow and ended up fouling the defender. 52 minutes had gone. 22 fouls had been committed. Hawkins came close for Gillingham, breaking through the defence and only being stopped by a last-ditch tackle. From the corner Hutton had a chance but his shot was sliced, high and wide. Hume made a nice interception and Town had a good passing move but on conceding possession Thompson hacked down Lapslie around midfield. The ball fell to Mahoney who crossed straight to Cartwright. Gillingham won a free kick from which Hutton found Hawkins's head but Cartwright gathered safely. Town responded with a passing move. Holohan found Wilson and the ball was laid off to Hume, who saw Wilson in space. The ball bobbled however and Wilson's shot sailed over the bar. Town's play was not fluid but the team were putting together some good moves. Holohan fouled Dieng but this game needed an incident, as my mate Andy Humbo would say. Gillingham attacked. Lapslie crossed to Hawkins who shocked himself by putting the ball over from 6 yards. Gillingham were on top. Ogie shot from range. Cartwright was only able to punch the ball down into the path of Mahoney who managed to miss where it seemed easier to score. Hume was booked for arguing about a foul which wasn't given before Cartwright saved from Mahoney. On 72 minutes Town worked the ball upfield with Thompson finding Mullarkey on the right but Gnahoua's control let him down. A Tharme error almost let Gillingham in but Town held firm and managed to launch an attack and a slow-building passing move which ended when Holohan was offside following a pass from Eisa from the edge of the Gillingham box. Andrews replaced Holohan on 75 minutes. Eisa ballooned a cross out for a corner but Cartwright mopped up. This had been a game of fouls and this aspect of the game showed no sign of abating. Andrews and Eisa worked well to move the ball upfield but Andrews's final pass to Hume was poor. The team traded possession. Mullarkey gave the ball away, allowing Ogie to bulldoze his way through the defence before firing a shot which skimmed off the top of the crossbar. Williams then set up Mahoney who blasted wide from close range. Mahoney: Town's best friend judging by the poor crossed and misses he was guilty of today. On 82 minutes Pyke and Smith replaced Wilson and Mullarkey. McKenzie was booked for a heavy tackle on Andrews. Hume delivered a long free kick but although Rodgers got a foot on it, it was too long. The combative Lapslie was then booked for a foul. Following yet another foul, Andrews found Gnahoua's head but there was no strength in the header. On 89 minutes Dieng was pushed on the edge of Town's box, earning Gillingham a free kick in a dangerous position. Nervous moments. The ball was laid off to our friend Mahoney who curled his shot wide. We needn't have worried. Five minutes were added. Town did well to gain possession. Gnahoua, Hume and Eisa linked up but Green was too slow. Green made amends by winning the ball and supplying Pyke after good work by Andrews but Morris saved the shot. Andrews's corner was headed down by Green - the ball bounced over the bar. Andrews fouled Ogie 35 yards out but Hutton's cross was terrible and that was that. The final score: Gillingham 1, Grimsby Town 1.

This was a foul-ridden game - 34 in total - where Town had to do a lot of defending. But we defended stoutly and played well in patches, putting together team moves and posing a threat. It was a hard-earned and deserved point here in the grey world of Gillingham. The place, the weather, the game: it was a dour do.

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