The Fishy - Grimsby Town FC

Question of the Week

Where will Grimsby be next season?





That's All Folks
That's All Folks

A Damp Squib

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 27/04/2024

IT'S common for supporters at the latter end of the season to look at the fixtures of other teams and wish for results to help us in the quest for promotion or the avoidance of relegation. For Town, it's been the avoidance of relegation but that's now passed.

For Crawley, who we play today, it mattered that they beat us with Doncaster, Crewe, Barrow, Bradford and even Walsall looking on. We don't know which players David Artell might be intending to keep, nor should we until the season has finished. Although it's an unimportant fixture for us, it was still an opportunity for me to watch Town and I was hoping for a competitive performance. At the same time I was interested to see if Town were going to avoid a repetition of last week, when the Tharmeless old guard back three started passing the ball around aimlessly, a tactic which any decent team would exploit. A case of Maher is less, perhaps.

Grey and miserable: this was both the weather and Crawley the town, adding to the drab collection which includes Gillingham and Crewe of recently visited undesirable places. It started to rain. The ground was a bit brighter, matching the home side's red kit, but with a tarpaulin roof cover and meccano style steel posts the East Stand had a temporary feel about it. Town, in traditional black and white this afternoon started with: Eastwood - Smith, Mullarkey, Rodgers, Hume - Vernam, Thompson, Green, Khouri - Gardner, Wilson. Today's random irritation was the stadium announcer who insisted on announcing every Crawley player's name as if they were on X Factor. 4,885 spectators were here today, including an impressive 632 Town fans.

After a frantic but aimless start, Town had the first chance after 8 minutes. Hume made a great interception from a poor pass by Conroy and crossed to the feet of Gardner who from 10 yards just had to stroke it home but instead boomed it over. Vernam then did well to pick up the ball and run, supplying Gardner who was dispossessed. Campbell was then allowed space but pushed his shot wide before Hume lost possession. There was no Crawley player to meet the ensuing cross. On 15 minutes another smart reaction from Hume saw him burst into the box. His shot clipped Wright's heels - corner to Town. Green headed over. Crawley won a corner on 17 minutes. The ball was cleared. Thompson started a move. Green was involved. Hume found Wilson whose shot was blocked. Hume shot - corner. The ball came out to Vernam who crossed. Gardner's shot went just wide. At this stage Town were competing, and Crawley weren't looking like a promotion team. On 21 minutes Hume went on a run, finding the industrious Green who laid the ball off to Vernam. Crawley keeper Addai gathered Vernam's low and accurate shot. The rain came down. On 23 minutes Crawley attacked from the left. Kelly crossed to ex Mariner Orsi who chested the ball down expertly and flicked it in from 10 yards. This was a well-taken goal. Crawley 1, Town 0. Crawley sought to increase their lead. Wright's free kick was punched away. Orsi pounced. Eastwood saved before Maguire went close from the corner. Green shot wide before Crawley attacked again. Orsi's shot came back out but Eastwood did well to gather Adeyemo's low shot over the increasingly slippery surface. On 32 minutes Town attacked. Smith played up to Gardner who put the defender under pressure to win a corner. More physical work by Orsi on 34 minutes saw Lolos in possession. Khouri backed off to prevent conceding a free kick in a dangerous position, allowing Lolos to waltz on, cut outside and slam a shot to Eastwood's right to make it 2 - 0. A minute later Green robbed Williams. Gardner crossed but Green fell over. A pair of Town legs stopped another Crawley goal on 38 minutes after an Adeyemo shot following a sublime lob by Wright. Town were trying but Crawley were playing with greater energy and fluidity. Verbam had a decent curled shot tipped away by Addai. From the corner Thompson had a shot blocked before a terrible second attempt which was sliced well wide. Town continued to struggle to contain Adeyemo who had been causing problems on the right all afternoon. As half-time approached, Hume did well to find Green whose control let him down close to the Crawley box. It remained 2 - 0 to Crawley. It hadn't been awful from Town's perspective but Crawley had been the better and more incisive side.

Shortly after the restart, Conroy wrestled Khouri to the ground. Hume then started an attack. Vernam won a corner. Thompson's cross was too long. The rain fell and fell. A good spell of passing followed from Town. Gardner played a nice chip to Green who burst through on the right and played the ball back to Hume but Hume had to switch to his stronger left foot and fired over the bar in his haste. A long and dangerous ball from Wright then had to be back headed by Mullarkey to Eastwood. Wilson then broke away on the left and crossed but the pass fell behind Khouri so the chance was missed. Great skill by Adeyemo was cleared for a corner on 59 minutes. Four minutes later Orsi almost wriggled through but he got bogged down as the soggy conditions were now proving difficult. The rain was now lashing down. After Kelly set up a good chance for Crawley, Town countered. Green found Vernam who won a corner but the move ended when Gardner was offside. On 70 minutes with the game dying a death and playing conditions getting worse, Andrews replaced Khouri. Gardner did well to rob Maguire, leading to Wilson getting a shot in. Addai saved but Gardner was guilty of a foul and another move ended. Town's overall play lacked co-ordination and precision as we have seen so often this season, while Crawley looked to provide a threat from all areas. Rodgers almost committed footballing suicide by heading into the path of Lolos but the opportunity wasn't taken as Thompson retrieved possession. A nice through ball from Gardner to Smith earned a corner which Crawley cleared with ease. A fancy trick by Thompson, who by now seemed to have lost interest, gave the ball to Lolos whose shot was saved. A minute or so later, Thompson and Vernam were replaced by Clifton and Wood. Soon Clifton had the chance to send Wilson through but in what seems to have become typical of Clifton these days, his pass was spectacularly overweighted. Town followed this up by passing the ball around well but Wood's shot at the goalkeeper was a disappointment. Mullarkey then slipped a nice ball through to Wilson but Wilson ... slipped and fell over. Crawley played the ball in the corner as they waited to celebrate their place in the play-offs. Mercifully there was no added time. Crawley Town 2, Grimsby Town. In the scheme of things it didn't matter but whilst some of our performance was good, it was too patchy and once again we demonstrated our weakness in passing and team play. So on this soggy day in Crawley where we might have put on a show, as the song goes, it appropriately perhaps was a damp squib from not-so-super Grimsby.

I do agree with Chairman Stockwood's comment last week that we started off the season without a game model, although when the new manager came in, the game model he initially adopted didn't work. That was addressed. I also agree with Mr Stockwood that recruiting the right individual players has to relate to a plan, and I think we were all hoodwinked into thinking at the start of the season that Paul Hurst had got this right, knowing especially that he goes for a certain serious type of player and generally had a good record in recruitment. My concern is not just about the plan but the fragile mindset of some of the players we recruited, and the lack of technical quality, which can be masked against poorer or National League teams but not against the better ones in this division. So there are hard decisions to be made and a lot of work to be done to get us fighting-fit and competitive next season. I look forward to it, and to misquote the fan enthusing after we'd beaten Morecambe earlier this season, maybe the next one will prove a better time to be alive.

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