The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Where will Grimsby be next season?


Operation Safety

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 20/04/2024

IT'S been a trial. I'm not talking about the football although that's been hard-going for most of the season. I'm talking about getting here. 2022/3 was bad with rail strikes and games being rescheduled to midweek when I generally can't make it.

This season prior to today I've managed 11 home and 5 away games with two fruitless journeys to Harrogate and Colchester. It's not a bad tally but it's been like a trial overcoming engineering works, rail disruption and strikes, requiring military planning. Today involved two of these. I've driven up twice to avoid all this but that's more expensive and tiring. The scheduled journey time for my round trip today was 11 hours 40 minutes without delays. It would be ok, I suppose, if my journey time was commensurate with the performance on the pitch but it's become increasingly evident that this Town team only perform well on rare occasions when they feel like it. Yet I was mystified when my wife asked “do I have to go?”. She didn't come today. I shall check in for therapy at a later stage. I'll be glad when the season's over and then we'll see what happens next year.

So to the football side. It too has been an arduous journey. Tuesday's lacklustre defeat to Colchester was deflating, just as last Saturday's win at Crewe was exhilarating. I don't think anyone can explain the inconsistency of performances but when we flounder around, and the ball control and interplay are poor, as has been the case for so much of the season, it's impossible to have faith in most of the players. I don't honestly know what game David Artell was watching if he thought we were the better side against Colchester, but we're all entitled to our opinions. Today we play Swindon who always seem to do well against us. Their form has been variable of late but they did beat Barrow away recently. What's most important is that we get at least a point in order to guarantee staying in this league. It was always going to be a tense affair at Blundell Park this afternoon. 6,752 spectators were here today, including 231 less anxious away fans.

Town's team on this cold and breezy day at Blundell Park was: Eastwood – Smith, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher – Holohan, Wood, Thompson, Green, Vernam – Wilson. Town had a following wind to begin with. A nice move in the first minute was started by Thompson. Wilson crossed and found Wood, who showed a consummate lack of composure, blasting over from 15 yards. Vernam then bombed up the left and crossed to keeper Bycroft. Wilson was then pulled over by Hunt but this time Vernam sent the ball straight into touch. Swindon countered. McGregor crossed from the right. Austin was unmarked. All he had to do was head home. He missed. On 9 minutes Green found Wilson on the right but there was no-one available to give it to. Town then won a free kick in the Swindon half. Rodgers's header from Wood's cross went wide. Vernam made a good interception but his pass was easily cut out by Godwin-Malife. Town had another “nearly” when neither Holohan nor Wilson could latch onto a through pass into the box. On 12 minutes following a free kick a pass from Smith to Green resulted in a cross which evaded everyone. Swindon were proving to be equally inept in attack. After a run, Devoy dithered and lost possession. Wood then sent Vernam off on a diagonal run but Swindon's number 59 Ofoborh did well to stop the threat. Shame he wasn't 57 or he could have sponsored by Heinz. The first substitution was made on 18 minutes: for the linesman who had pulled a muscle. Vernam made a good interception and found Holohan on the right. The cross came in but instead of attacking it Wood just stuck his foot out and the opportunity was lost. Swindon continued to look unconvincing meanwhile. First Austin made a poor pass to Devoy who was forced into an impossible overhead kick, then Kokolo ran in and crossed to nobody. At this rate neither side was going to score. A good interception by Holohan on 27 minutes was wasted by awful control from Wood. As if by response, Devoy played the ball into touch. This was not football of the competent kind. The crowd was stupefied and reduced to silent reflection. On 31 minutes Town won a free-kick when Ofoborh rugby-tackled Thompson. It occurred to me now that these players had their sports codes mixed up. Vernam passed to Smith who crossed. Green took aim. Bycrift saved with his feet. Green fired over the bar. Devoy then did a good bit of defending for Town after being struck by McGregor's cross, but Town failed to clear the ball properly. Swindon passed and probed. Thompson tripped Austin. By this stage no-one around me was watching as the seats were empty, everyone having retired to the bar. Swindon eventually lost possession, as did Town. Glatzel had a chance but his control was poor. 37 minutes had gone. Green ran determinedly to win possession 25 yards out and was tripped by McEachren who seemed surprised by Green's audacity at making an effort. Vernam's free flicked off a defender's head, sending Bycroft the wrong way but the ball slid past the post. Vernam's delivery wasn't great from the corner but Thompson's return cross was worse. Vernam then put Eastwood under pressure with a back pass. Eastwood's clearance was sliced and ballooned backwards. Vernam was fouled needlessly so the threat was averted. Three minutes of further torture were added. Wilson did well to fight and get a shot on goal in spite of falling to the ground. Bycroft made a save but Green was unable to finish, only succeeding in injuring the Swindon goalkeeper. The half ended scoreless. The quality on both sides was dreadful and it was hard to envisage anyone scoring ever.

On 48 minutes Thompson was fouled. Town proceeded up the pitch. “Get it in the corner”, I heard a spectator cry behind me. A bit early, it would seem. At least the spectator was there. Many hadn't returned. All eyes were on Sutton who had now equalised in their game. Vernam sent in his free kick. The ball was scrambled clear and returned to Wood who hit a decent shot which swept over the bar into the Pontoon. Ofoborh was then dispossessed and it two against one but Wilson's pass was poor. On 64 minutes Glatzel carried on the good work, scooping the ball well over the bar. Rodgers then conceded a corner which came to nothing. On 55 minutes Swindon won a free kick. Devoy's cross was cleared by Green. Maher played the ball up to Wilson who was fouled. Town followed this up with a nice move but Vernam was unable to gain control of his header from Holohan's cross. Eastwood then had to race out to beat the advancing Devoy. Swindon won a corner. Wilson struggled to clear. A game of headball followed. Swindon attacked but it was ok - McGregor made a hash of his cross. On 65 minutes a great interception by Holohan led to a through pass to Wilson but offside was given. Worryingly Town started passing around at the back. Inevitably Maher passed the ball out of play. Town regained possession. Hunt did well to cut out a Holohan pass. Wilson had a good chance on 68 minutes but struck his shot straight at Bycroft. A minute later Ofoborh had a shot from range which went wide in spectacular fashion without remotely raising the prospect of troubling the scorers. Swindon then gave the ball away for the umpteenth time today, leading to Town passing the ball around dangerously at the back again, culminating in the ball being played aimlessly into touch. 73 minutes were up. Town made a triple substitution. Hume, Ainley and Andrews replaced Vernam, Wood and Holohan. Within two minutes Hume won the ball in a tight position in Town's half. Hume found Ainley around the centre circle. Ainley looked up and saw Smith steaming in from the right and played an inch-perfect pass into his path. Smith ran on and deftly drove his shot past Bycroft. Town 1, Swindon 0. A genius substitution by Artell the game reader? At last the Town fans came alive. On 77 minutes Green dispossessed Austin. Maher passed the ball out of play. Sutton were now winning. But so were Town, who had visibly stepped up their intensity since the substitutions. Swindon continued to misfire. It was looking good. Devoy gave the ball away. Ainley found Wilson who ran into the box and fell - no penalty. Andrews then robbed Godwin-Malife but dragged his shot wide after a good run. On 82 minutes the game stopped for an injury to Eastwood which was a pity as Town had the momentum. Swindon looked demoralised. On 85 minutes Ofoborh gave the ball away. Wilson picked up the ball in midfield and surged forward before slamming an unstoppable low shot past Bycroft, off the left post and in to put 2-0 up. The crowd was finally animated. Khouri replaced Green on 86 minutes. Town played the ball around. Thompson had a shot blocked. As 5 minutes were added, Maher did well to block a shot from Hepburn-Murphy who was the only player to provide any sort of threat for Swindon since coming on. But Town were not to be denied. Khouri had a shot. Bramwell replaced Thompson and was involved in a move with Ainley and Andrews before Wilson had a final shot after being supplied by Khouri. Town ended the game confidently. The game ended: Grimsby Town 2, Swindon Town 0. We are safe.

It wasn't much of a game but the job was done. We're over the line. Town were by far the superior side today and can take satisfaction from their performance after the triple substitution in the 70th minute. Up to that point we faffed around before showing greater intensity and playing with confidence. We can now fulfil our dream of trips to Newport and Harrogate again next season.

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