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Where will Grimsby be next season?





Fin de siècle
Fin de siècle

Seasonal Disorder

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 09/04/2024

THE frost came and went. During this period our game at Harrogate was called off so here we are again. The rain then came and carried on coming. It was cold and it’s now mild. It’s April now, and the weather forecasters are tearing at the bit to issue warnings. Well, April is known for showers.

During all this period Town dug themselves further and further into the muddy mire of the relegation fight. Our team has been like a misfiring boiler. We struggle on. When we were due to play Harrogate in January we had little hope, and it was hard to be optimistic about the replayed game this evening. But then the sun came out on Saturday and someone called Kathleen made the wind blow hard. We played Newport. It was a revelation. Town played with intensity for 90 minutes, passed the ball around, moved fluidly and managed the wind. Even the dead-ball play was accurate. Every player performed well. Wilson missed three good chances in the second half, but the deed was done when after an accurate long pass, Green headed the ball down to Rose, whose determination to win the ball resulted in a skilful subtle flick being slipped through the defenders and past the goalkeeper, sliding into the net as if in slow motion. Joy. Given our position, this was a win of Beaufortian proportions. We’re not there yet, and need more points to be safe. Saturday was a case of Rose and rosier.

Harrogate were well prepared when we played them in December, putting us under pressure and making us pay as we attempted to play out from the back at the start of the Artell era. Thankfully we don’t do that now. Town’s formation on Saturday looked lopsided with Vernam acting as a left wing back, with Tharme deputed to provide cover. That worked well against Newport but it’s clear that Harrogate do their homework and would have a plan. Town’s team this evening was: Eastwood – Smith, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Tharme – Holohan, Thompson, Andrews, Clifton – Obikwu, Rose. It looked as if our powerhouse Clifton was going to do the donkey work on the left with Tharme mopping up on the left side and Thompson providing the link between defence and midfield. Our allocation of just over 1,000 tickets was sold so there was plenty of support for the team in red in the crowd of 3,201. Harrogate wore their customary yellow and black.

Harrogate passed the ball around in the first few minutes but Town responded. On 7 minutes Thompson rounded the defender on the right and earned a throw - Tharme’s fourth long throw already. Harrogate had a break after a Smith cross, but Town cleared the threat and broke themselves. Rose managed a shot but it was weak. A Thomson volley was blocked following a cleared cross from the right by Abu. Town had the best chance so far on 15 minutes when determined work saw Town win the ball. Andrews and Rose combined, and Holohan could have done better from close range but his shot was smothered. Obikwu did well moments later to squirm and manage a shot which was blocked. March then did well to beat Mullarkey and win a corner. 20 minutes had gone. Neither side was controlling the game or enjoying prolonged possession. Mistakes were rife. On 25 minutes Town won a free kick in Harrogate’s half. Smith delivered. Clifton and Obikwu fought hard to find space, winning a throw. Tharme’s throw bounced off a defender to Clifton who fired over from 15 yards. Smith showed good anticipation and made an interception but his cross was too long. This summed the game up - moments of promise but undone by a lack of sustained quality. Mullarkey found Rose who won a foul on the left. Andrews’s cross was cleared. Harrogate attacked. Thomson found Odoh who fell over in the box and was penalised for his theatricality. On 39 minutes Town won a corner after a cross. It was a poor corner but Tharme made a clever back flick to Obikwu who headed home from close range. But the linesman flagged for offside to the astonishment of the players. In spite of Town’s protests and discussion between the referee and linesman, the goal didn’t stand. Harrogate attacked frantically as half-time approached. Mullarkey lost possession, allowing Sutton to break forward and fire a shot which wobbled in the wind. Eastwood was able to punch it away. Thomson’s corner was headed off the line by Rose for another one. The second corner was long and found O’Connor who panicked and missed from close range on the right. 0 - 0 at half time. Town were competing well in the game, which hadn’t been of great quality, and appeared to be unlucky to have had a goal disallowed.

A poor clearance from Clifton following previous good work saw Harrogate in possession on 48 minutes. Harrogate played the ball around. Town’s defence stood firm. Sutton passed from the left to Thomson who was in space in the middle. From 30 yards and with the wind behind, Thomson slammed his shot into the top left corner. Harrogate 1, Town 0. In a bid to respond, Holohan and Mullarkey combined but not for the first time, Harrogate played the offside trap and were successful, Rose being penalised here. Harrogate took confidence from the goal. Smith made a good challenge, stopping Thomson who would have been through after a long pass from O’Connor. Town tried to push Harrogate back. Obikwu forced an error by Harrogate keeper Belshaw, but Harrogate retrieved possession. The dangerous right wing back Abu almost went through on 60 minutes but was guilty of a poor touch. A minute later Obikwu lost possession in the Town half. Harrogate attacked. Odoh put in a dangerous cross. This was another escape for Town. Green replaced Andrews to provide more punch in midfield for Town. Town were struggling and looking unlikely to respond. There was a lack of fluidity in the play. Holohan played a poor cross and followed up with a better one but the defender was there first. Hume replaced Clifton to shore up the left where Abu was causing problems. On 70 minutes Thompson combined with Rose who supplied Hooohan from the right. Holohan turned and blasted his shot miles over from 6 yards - a wasted opportunity. On 73 minutes Wilson and Vernam came on for Obikwu and Holohan, neither of whom had distinguished themselves today. Cornelius broke up the right for Harrogate who played the ball around imperiously. But Sutton was guilty of a poor pass. Mullarkey picked up the ball and found Green but the ball forward was speculative. Hume was then beaten by Abu in another attack from the home team and received a yellow card for pulling him back. The normally reliable Tharme lost possession and Eastwood was forced into two good saves, first from Daly and then from Thomson whose low shot on 79 minutes was palmed away. Three minutes later Harrogate attacked again. Foulds beat Smith on the left and crossed but no-one was able to make contact and push the ball home. Vernam broke away but was dragged back by Abu who was the latest recipient of a yellow card along with Town manager Artell for his vigorous protests. Harrogate continued to play the ball around and looked stronger as the game neared its end. Town looked helpless. Smith did well to retrieve the ball and found Wilson who was pulled down by McDonald as he surged forward. On 86 minutes Hume committed a silly foul 20 yards outside Town’s box and was lucky not to receive a second yellow after petulantly pushing the ball away. Thomson’s curled free kick was accurate. Eastwood did well to tip it over. Foulds crossed the ball. Mullarkey gave the ball away, but Muldoon should have done better. Four minutes were added but the only possibility seemed be that of Harrogate increasing their lead. The enigmatic Hume was guilty of a short pass to Green who committed a foul but the referee allowed play to continue only for Thompson to stop play by committing another foul. It was a shambles. With 92 minutes gone, Eastwood once again did well to save a tap-in by Thomson after a good run and cross by Odoh. Wilson did attempt a turn and shot from a Smith cross but the attempt was well wide. The game ended: Harrogate Town 1, Grimsby Town 0.

After holding their own in the first half, Town were outplayed in the second. Even then we could have got back into the game but Holohan was guilty of a criminal miss from close range. Otherwise we never looked scoring. Eastwood and Smith apart, no-one played well and there was a lack of cohesion as Town looked out of sorts. Harrogate took heart from their goal and just as we won convincingly by a one goal margin on Saturday against Newport, so did Harrogate against us tonight. Although we may get away with it thanks to the results of others, we looked like relegation fodder. Was it a case of seasonal disorder? Who knows with this misfiring team? Earlier this week there was a solar eclipse. This evening we were eclipsed at Harrogate’s EnviroVent stadium.

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