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Travel Sickness: Swindon Report
By: Mike Worden
2004 has been a bad year for the travelling Mariners. Grimsby arrived in Wiltshire last night with an away form of six consecutive defeats in which 23 goals had been conceded.
On paper then easy pickings for a highflying Swindon side managed by a one time and short term Grimsby assistant manager, Andy King.
Warming up was led by former Barnsley midfielder Ronnie Glavin, putting the players through an organised series of exercises and a training game.
Town fans gathered in the upper sections of the â€˜Arkells Standâ€™, the main stand at the County Ground. Not a bad view, but at a Premier League admission price. Just to make it a bit more cosy for the town fans, the stewards insisted on keeping large areas of this part of the stand free of fans. â€˜I'm sorry sir, you can't sit there, itâ€™s more than my jobs worthâ€™. Good views were had of the lights and roundabouts of old Swindon town, although the famous â€˜Magic Roundaboutâ€™ was hidden by the stand opposite.
The Mariners ran out in black and white stripes with A. Marriner in green. He was Mr Andre Marriner (three râ€™s), the ref. Town fans held back from chanting â€˜You're A Marriner and you know you areâ€™.
Stacey Coldicott had failed a fitness test, so Chris Bolder was brought into central midfield in preference to Graham Hockless. Stuart Campbell played alongside him with Darren Barnard and John Thorrington playing wide on the left and right respectively. Paul Warhurst and Greg Young lined up at centre back with Mike Edwards and Craig Armstrong at full back. The Rowan-Jevons partnership continued up front.
The first real action took place in the 6th minute when Sean Oâ€™ Hanlon had a header following a free-kick, but Alan Fettis pushed it away superbly for a corner which was then cleared. Barnard then cleared a free kick which he had given away himself. Another corner was cleared by the Grimsby defence before they themselves won a corner in the 13th min. It was taken short and came to nothing but Swindon counter attacked which Fettis dealt with. Warhurst was showing composure at the back and easily dealt with a situation by the corner flag in front of the Town fans. Mooney and Parkin though were the obvious threats for Swindon.
Around the 20-30 minute mark, Grimsby had a good spell of pressure with Jevons having a couple of good chances from Rowan passes, chances which Evans in the Swindon goal saved. During this spell though Igoe went close for Swindon after he escaped the Grimsby defence, but Fettis was equal to the effort.
On 32 minutes Rowan was fouled on the edge of the box, but Mr Marriner failed to take notice of his assistantâ€™s flag. One minute later, Grimsby were one goal down. Following a Swindon throw, a ball came into the box from the right, and Mooney headed powerfully past Fettis from a central position.
On recent occasions Town have conceded at a similar stage in the first half and gone onto to concede again. This time though they fought straight back and Rowanâ€™s effort was saved by Evans.
After 38 minutes Swindon hit the bar after the Mariners defence fail to clear properly and a little while later Andy Gurney hit a free-kick well over the bar. On 44 minutes Jevons had a diving header saved after good work by Stuart Campbell. On the stroke of half time though the Mariners went 2-0 down as Mooney was put through in an onside position to the left of centre and placed a low shot past Fettis.
Town were unlucky to go into the break two goals down.
No changes at half time. Swindon ran out to the tune of the TV programme â€˜Superstarsâ€™, but being 2-0 down the Mariners were not afforded the same welcome.
Town started quite brightly as they kicked towards the mass of empty red seats on the open Stratton Bank. A Barnard cross was easily dealt before Jevons had a chance. Town had a series of corners most of which involved Barnard as either taker or recipient. One of the corners was played directly back to Barnard outside of the box and the Welsh internationalâ€™s shot was deflected for another corner.
7 minutes into the second half, Barnard was booked for a foul on Sean Oâ€™Hanlon on the halfway line. Grimsby though were playing some neat football but without really hurting in the box. Rowan hesitated at one point when he should have aimed a kick at the ball when close to the goalkeeper and the chance was lost.
At the end of the first quarter of the second half, Grimsby had a let off when an apparent Swindon shot went right across the goal to the corner flag and then soon after Fettis came racing out of his box to clear a ball. A little later Bolder received a booking and the marching Mr Marriner moved the ball forward for dissent. Fortunately the free kick came to nothing but as the shot went well wide of the goal.
Cheers went up as a streaker wandered onto the pitch from the Swindon end. Except he wasn't a real streaker as he was sporting a pair of green underpants. It was St Patrickâ€™s Day after all. He wandered upfield unchallenged and lowered his underpants in front of the Town fans before making a dash over the barrier into the deserted Stratton Bank behind the goal. Chased by a couple of stewards through the rows of empty seats, it was like a Benny Hill sketch.
Rowan was replaced by Darren Mansaram around the 25 minute mark. A Grimsby free kick was taken by Barnard but resulted in a goal kick for Swindon. Armstrong had a good run down the left, cut inside and shot straight at Evans. Mansaram was then caught a mile off-side a little later. It was beginning to feel as if Townâ€™s chances of getting something from the game had gone.
Soon after the 30 minute mark, Anderson was brought on for Thorrington who had not been effective in the second half. Mansaram was brought down, proceeded to pick the ball up and was promptly booked by Mr Marriner who hadn't given the foul.
Swindon won a free kick on the edge of the D after a player fell to the floor. The shot hit the underside of the bar and came back to Parkin who put it in the net but was judged to be off-side to the relief of the travelling fans. Soon after Campbell produced some good work at the other end of the field, but it came to nothing.
In the 40th minute Swindonâ€™s Brian Howard received a red card from Mr Marriner for a tackle on Anderson. The game was almost over but Town had a number of other chances including two from Anderson who was looking quite lively. He ran through and lobbed the keeper but also lobbed the bar and then hit a great shot following a Town corner kick.
And so it ended. The Mariners had huffed and puffed but not managed to get near to blowing the Swindon house down. It was however a much improved performance which was recognised in the ovation given by the travelling fans as the players left the pitch. The midfield had worked hard and up front Jevons did well. Swindon are much better than the sides that have seriously turned us over in recent weeks. They are well organised and in Mooney and Parkin in particular, have the strength in the final third of the field that Town lack currently. The poor away run continues and we sit perilously close to the relegation zone. Itâ€™s no consolation, but a few weeks ago Town would have been thrashed by a side such as this.
Grimsby: Fettis, Edwards, Warhurst, Young, Armstrong; Barnard, Campbell, Bolder, Thorrington (Anderson); Jevons, Rowan (Mansaram).
Subs (not used): Parker, Hamilton, Hockless
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