Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
By: Dan Humphrey
In a Super Bowl environment, with fireworks, fairground rides, brass bands, it was the 'Family Fun Night' at the Reebok, but Grimsby ruined the party! A hard working Mariners display, where everyone tracked back and battled for all 93 minutes, shocked a complacent Bolton side.
With Bolton expecting 3 easy points, Elliott and Frandsen came in for Charlton and Passi, while Dean Holdsworth was amongst the subs.
The Mariners lined up in 4-4-2, Campbell on the left and Donovan on the right. The only change saw Coldicott in for the injured Burnett. Kingsley Black was promoted to the bench, alongside Handyside, Rowan, Butterfield and Croudson. But to the credit of the starting eleven, no subs were required tonight. Well, only for Bolton they were...
Town began energetically, but a mistake by Livvo saw the Jamaican Gardner set up Ricketts, who forced a good save from Coyne. But it was Town who looked more dangerous after that; McDermott and Jeffrey combined to earn a corner, and Groves rose unchallenged. He headed just over. Shortly after, Willems shot tamely and just wide.
Bolton responded through a wild effort by Ricketts. After a quarter of an hour, Jeffrey held the ball up well for Campbell to shoot, Banks pushing the ball wide for a corner.
Every time Town won a corner, Willems and Campbell trotted over, and their well planned routines confused Bolton no end. Indeed, Campbell nearly scored from the corner flag after a quick one-two with Menno. I repeat: from the corner flag. An amazing effort. Wanderers panicked, as Town won 3 corners in a row, the 3rd just missing Zhang's forehead at the back post.
The opposition awoke briefly - neat play involving Elliott, Gardner and Hansen saw Town bodies desperately combining for a last-ditch clearance, and a free kick nearly resulted in disaster when Smith and Campbell both hesitated. Luckily, no one took advantage.
Just as it looked that Town were lacking width, the tactics became more apparent. Donovan and Coldicott were taking it in turns to assist McDermott, while Campbell and Smith together frequently covered Summerbee. The front men held the ball up well, and waited for support.
Willems ambitiously had a go from all of 35 yards out, and was very close to opening the scoring. The home fans were getting restless - I was sitting amongst them, not by choice, and grinning!!
After half an hour, a good piece of defending by a Mr. Kevin Donovan! Honest. Town cleared up to the other end where Banks came out, Hendry panicked, and conceded an unnecessary corner. Bolton looked worried. Rightfully so. Within a couple of minutes, the Mariners won another corner. Campbell's cross, straight onto the skipper's head. 1-0!!! Groves, unchallenged again, the 'keeper was nowhere.
The remainder of the first half saw Smith and Coyne get in a muddle, O'Kane put a cross-shot into Coyne's arms, and Menno put a half-chance 15 yards over! Of course, Town kept ploughing on - Campbell making an impressive foray into the 18yd box, and shooting 1/2 a yard wide. Could have been 2-0.... He tried again, beating O'Kane near the corner flag, cutting inside, but shooting at Banks' chest. Then in injury time, Summerbee posed a threat - chasing a lost cause and blasting it against the woodwork.
Half-Time 1-0 to Grimsby
Half-Time thoughts: Aren't we working hard? Donovan is working well, and Campbell is very impressive, very clever little player! Enhau has won everything in the air too. We could win!!
The interval saw fireworks, above the ground, and probably in the Bolton dressing room too. Sam Allardyce replaced the ineffective Summerbee with Holdsworth, and the home side reverted to a 4-2-4, with Hansen moving to the right, and Holdsworth joining Ricketts in the middle. The result was immediate and sustained pressure. I counted 6, as in S-I-X, corners in a row to our opponents. The first one came when Donovan headed a cross away to safety.
At the 3rd of 6, Coyne made a classy save from Hendry's header, dashing back to tip over it over the bar. Another was headed clear by Livvo.
Then Zhang said hello to 'Deano'. He flattened Holdsworth in a 50-50. Ricketts headed wide and the pressure subsided. For a while.
Banks in the Bolton goal entertained us all by slicing a clearance for a corner, and Livvo put a free header wide. You got the impression that we practice free kicks and corners and that Bolton do not. Not ever. Especially not defending them.
Bolton attacked more and more, including a scramble, when Coyne dived at the feet of Hansen and Ricketts. The latter had developed a habit of either reacting too late, or giving Coyne the ball. But the Mariners held firm. That is until Bolton beat the Town offside trap. Allegedly. I was level with the incident and thought a white shirt was offside. Bolton promptly scored. Bergsson I think. 1-1.
But McDermott and Coldicott agreed with me, and protested to the linesman and referee. (Tip, if you are ever in the opposition end, and they score, DO NOT stand up and shout OFFSIDE REF! People don't react well...) the linesman didn't give it, even though he was ideally placed. Macca had deliberately moved up. Coldicott got booked, and I think Macca did too. A bit harsh - it had been a clean game, and we had battled to maintain our lead. Of course they were upset.
Later on, Donovan got angry with the same official for some strange free-kick decisions, although on one occasion Willems was so late on Frandsen, that a yellow was inevitable... yet not forthcoming. Typical inconsistency.
With half-an-hour to go the pessimist in me thought we might crumble. The optimist hoped for more set-plays. Bingo!! We won a corner. It was whipped in by the Willems:Campbell partnership, and Enhua rose, unchallenged, (familiar pattern eh? corner, Town players getting free headers). Easy goal again for Town. Zhang Enhua, he's in danger of becoming a bit prolific! 2-1! And when was the last time both centre-halves scored for Town? Answers on a postcard....
For all our respect and admiration for Peter Handyside, if the incumbents play like this on a regular basis, he is just going to have to stay on the bench a little longer.
Naturally, Bolton responded by attacking Town down the flanks. A couple of dubious free-kicks on the Town right resulted in deep crosses and urgent defending from the 10 Town men deep in the 18yard box - only Donovan left upfront. Town threatened occasionally, Willems breaking clear once, almost. But as we clung on for dear life.... Hansen, a constant threat in the second half, outclassing Smith and causing the defence numerous problems managed to score in one of those frenzied, can't quite get it clear moments.
Now Town had to cling on to a well-earned point. And did so. Such is life in Division One - you out battle the 2nd best team in the division, at their ground, with almost a full house of home fans, and they are still too much for you. Just about. But it was a point well deserved. Not many Town fans would have expected to go home bemoaning the two points dropped, and it was a bitter sweet feeling. "We could have won" met with "the lads did us proud!"
Town MOM: A few contenders, but Grovesy and Campbell were edged out by Enhua, who was commanding in the air, assured on the ball, and almost gave us victory. Special mention for Mike Jeffreys who worked hard to involve the midfielders and impressed with his touch and work rate. Before the game, Bolton had a better side on paper, probably only Danny Coyne would get in their team, you might have thought. But not on this performance by the Mariners - it was hard to tell which side was at home!
Grimsby: Coyne 7, McDermott 7, D.Smith 6.5, Enhua 8, Groves 7.5, Willems 7, Coldicott 7, Campbell 7.5, Donovan 7, Livvo 6.5, Jeffreys 7. Subs: non used.
Bolton: Banks 5, O'Kane 6, Elliott 5, Hendry 6, Bergsson 7, Frandsen 6, Farrelly 5, Summerbee 6 (Holdsworth h-t 6.5), Gardner 7, Ricketts 6, Hansen 8.
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