The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Where will Grimsby be next season?


Nervous Times

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 01/04/2024

ALTHOUGH we didn't realise it at the time, Town's draw at today's opponents Bradford in September marked the start of the slide down the table to the precarious point we are now just above the relegation places. After playing well in the first half, we sat too deep and allowed Bradford to get back into the game.

Bradford have been struggling themselves of late but did pick up a win on Friday. Although it wouldn't be the end if Town didn't win today, mentally and technically this squad is fragile. Passing and control seem to be an alien concept, so the base product is wobbly to start with. Another legendary calamitous loss is the last thing we need if we are to avoid the downwards slide suggested by the losses against Wrexham and Barrow.

Today's team was: Cartwright - Smith, Mullarkey, Tharme, Rodgers, Hume - Holohan, Thompson, Andrews - Rose, Obikwu. This meant four changes from Friday with more balance in the right where Clifton, out injured today, had been operating on his own. While Town's talisman Rose made a welcome return, Bradford's top scorer and ex-Mariner Andy Cook was missing today.

Town kicked off facing the Osmond end as usual. Bradford wore their traditional yellow and claret waspy hoops. Both teams struggled to find their feet and each other in the initial stages. A foul on Thompson led to a clumsy move between Hume and Holohan but Town won a throw. Holohan lost possession before Thompson was fouled again. Holohan got a shot in after good control by Thompson but although Town looked to press forward, there was no threat. On 14 minutes Town's keeper Cartwright went down with a muscle injury and had to be replaced by Eastwood. On resumption, Bradford attacked. Good work by Richards on the left led to a shot by Oyegoke which went just wide. Holohan was then pushed. Hume's cross was flicked on by Rodgers in the Bradford box but there was no-one there. Town had an attacking spell but although Bradford struggled with their clearances, Tharme's throws were dealt with comfortably. A long ball for Rose on 30 minutes was passed to Hume who passed into space in the Bradford box with no-one there except Bradford defenders. Hume then committed a silly foul before being dispossessed by Kavanagh who crossed to Smith whose accurate header was saved low by Eastwood. This was the best chance so far for either side. Town had a positive spell as half time approached, winning a number of fouls. Holohan and Mullarkey had shots. A decent move involving Smith, Hume and Holohan resulted in a free kick on the right for Town. Hume found Rodgers's head but the header went over the bar. Rose and Obikwu combined in the added period but Rose lost possession. Bradford attacked and the sides traded possession as the half came to a close with the score at 0 - 0. It had been a poor half. Bradford had one chance following a Town error but posed no threat. Town were working the ball upfield but the delivery was substandard from both open play and set pieces.

The start of the second half was littered with errors, but endeavour by Thompson and a good run from Mullarkey showed positive intent. Bradford came close in 50 minutes when a layoff from Smith to Pointon in a tight space led to neat turn and curled shot which missed by inches. Town attacked. Platt slipped. Obikwu ran in and was rugby tackled by Oyegoke who received a yellow card. Hume's cross was headed out for a corner by Kelly. 59 minutes had gone. Hume's corner wasn't good, missing the gathering of players in the 6 yard box. Kavanagh got his foot on the ball but couldn't control it, pushing it out to Thompson on the edge of the box. Thompson struck it first time and slammed his shot into the top left corner off a defender. Town 1, Bradford 0. Town took heart and stepped up their intensity. On 61 minutes Obikwu started a move. Holohan ran forward and passed to Obikwu who dragged his shot wide disappointingly when there were better options - a decisive moment? On 66 minutes Holohan made a superb interception in midfield and raced on, to be brought down by Platt who was booked. Hume's cross found Holohan's head but the header was weak. Bradford responded with a good attack. Smith saved the day for Town, blocking when Richards looked to push the ball home at the far post. Kelly then missed a sitter from 10 yards from a Halliday cross. On 69 minutes Wilson replaced Obikwu and was immediately in action, having a great chance to score but moving too early and finding himself offside. Smith had a good chance for Bradford following a long pass but Tharme's positional play was superb, and Smith was blocked out. Oduor, brought on by Bradford no doubt to cause a stink, fouled Thompson on 77 minutes. Hume's looped cross was pushed out by Oyegoke for a corner. Town won another one after Holohan's header struck Chapman, and then won a third, which the keeper missed. Bradford cleared the ball. Wright was lucky to get a yellow card as he fought to break free, throwing Andrews to the ground. The game had livened up. Eastwood pulled in a good cross from Walker before Wilson made a good interception at the other end. Kelly was booked on 83 minutes for flattening Holohan before Andrews received a yellow card for a body check in this increasingly physical and competitive encounter. From the subsequent move Oduor slipped the ball through to Walker who side-footed his shot towards goal. Eastwood got down quickly and made a great save. Eastwood then made a second save as things now started to look uncomfortable for Town. Smith supplied Holohan who won a corner for Town on 87 minutes to ease the pressure briefly. Bradford broke again, but the move ended when Smallwood misplaced his pass. Holohan, showing plenty of energy all afternoon, broke away and was fouled. Town were battling, and were trying to keep possession in the Bradford half. But Bradford, who had made a number of substitutions, now looked a threat. Five minutes were added. The atmosphere was tense. Bradford attacked. On 93 minutes. Wright crossed from the left. The ball struck Smith's foot and looped over the defence to the far post where Halliday was on hand to slot the ball in. But Hume was on hand and to prevent the goal pulled Halliday down - penalty to Bradford. Hume received a red card. Smallwood smashed his penalty up the middle to score. Town 1, Bradford 1. Khouri replaced Andrews to fill the gap in defence. Bradford, now with the numerical advantage, surged forward. Walker found Chapman but Rodgers and Khouri squeezed the Bradford player out. Halliday sent the ball in from the right. Platt headed down for Kavanagh who was clean through but Eastwood was quick to react and pounced on the ball. With 96 minutes gone, Thompson conceded a foul on Town's right towards the edge of the box, but Eastwood gathered the cross cleanly. This was the end of the action. Grimsby Town 1, Bradford City 1. Relief, tension, disappointment … this is football. After a languid first half, the second was captivating. The prospect of relegation still looms large. Town are still on the precipice but are alive. We continue to view the results of other teams with interest.

The agony goes on. Town deserve credit for an improved second half in both their play and dead-ball effectiveness. Thompson's goal lifted the spirits and from that moment Town's level of intensity and enterprise increased. There was always a risk as Town didn't try to hang on to the lead and played positively but as we've seen before including at the reverse fixture, that tactic has proved fatal. Bradford posed few threats for most of the game. In the end it seemed to be the Town players' tiredness and better substitutions by Bradford, who looked fresher as the game entered the final phase, which proved decisive. A draw isn't a disastrous result, although it is disappointing in these circumstances, but what it does mean is that there are more nervous times ahead in the coming weeks.

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