League Two Table
Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
By: Gareth Edwards
THE Mariners were defeated 1-O by an average Darlington side, and unfortunately cannot blame a poor refereeing display for their loss, which saw Tom Newey and Tony Crane receive their marching orders.
Town started the game unchanged from their good win away at Bristol last week, despite the return to fitness of Ciaran Toner, who made the subs bench. Darlington had in their line-up former Town target Clyde Wijnhard, and had dangerous strike duo Akpo Sodje and Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu on the bench.
Town attacked the Osmond end in the first half and started much the better of the two sides, creating a few early chances, the best of which fell to Michael Reddy. Neat interplay by Parkinson and Gritton set the pace merchant free, but he could only blast his shot straight at the Darlington keeper, and then once again with the rebound. Paul Bolland then tested the keeper again with a long range effort but it was unfortunately straight at Russell.
Tom Newey picked up the first booking of the game on 19 minutes for a mistimed challenge on Neil Wainright, but still Darlington were unable to get a foothold on the game.
Town squandered a host of set-pieces, the delivery of which came from the boot of Tom Newey from various free kicks and corners, and this will surely have to be improved upon if we are to be a powerhouse in League Two this season.
The .Mariners were still very much on top, but were struggling to create any clear chances, Gary Croft's blocked shot being the only threat to Darlington's goal.
The Quakers then began to settle and mounted their first attacks of note, Mildenhall holding on to a deflected effort.
Town's direct style of play seemed to have been sussed out by Dave Hodgson's men and the balance of power was definitely now with the better footballing team. A last ditch challenge saved Town from falling behind, after Steve Mildenhall weakly parried out a dangerous Simon Johnson cross. A neat passing move almost set Neil Wainright through for Darlington but he hit his shot straight at Mildenhall. Tony Crane compounded Town's problems, creating a chance for Darlington, with a poorly-judged backpass but once again, through a combination of skill and luck, Mildenhall kept the ball out.
This completed a disappointing end to the half for Town which had started so well but had faded exponentially as the half progressed.
Half-Time: Grimsby 0 Darlington 0
Town started the 2nd half much the same as they ended the first, their constant long balls being met by shouts of 'HOOF!' from the frustrated crowd.
This frustration was certainly deserved, especially when Grimsby created chances by getting the ball down and playing. McDermott was inches off connecting with Newey's teasing cross and Reddy's surge down the left almost created a chance for himself. Darlington, however, maintained their ascendancy, and Anthony Peacock fired just over at the other end.
Russell Slade brought on Gary Cohen for Andy Parkinson, after the former Tranmere man struggled throughout 'in the hole'. Darlington were then awarded a dubious penalty at the other end, Crane being adjudged to have pulled down Wijnhard in the box. It was Steve Mildenhall who had the last laugh, as he saved the resulting penalty and soon after Wijnhard was replaced by Sodje.
Cohen tried valiantly to create opportunities at the other end, shooting over, and Calvin Andrew replaced a tiring Reddy in another change in the hope of creating a goal. However, the tide did not turn and Darlo went close again at the other end. With ten minutes to go, it looked as if Town might snatch a point but Darlington were then awarded a second penalty by the referee C Boyeson, Tom Newey bringing down Peacock in the 83rd minute; who went down theatrically. Newey was forced to leave the pitch, picking up his second booking and ten-man Town then fell behind, Ndumbu-Nsungu tucking away the resulting penalty. Town threw on Ciaran Toner for the excellent Paul Bolland in the hope of grabbing a late equaliser, and Rob Jones almost obliged, but his header was straight at the grateful Russell in goal.
With Town staring down the barrel of a defeat, Russell Slade's day was then made doubly worse when Tony Crane was shown the red card, when the referee heard a discretion on the part of the Liverpudlian. This means a likely suspension for the defender, whose disciplinary record at Town is less than flattering. The final whistle soon followed to a chorus of boo's for both Town's woeful performance and the referee's seemingly poor judgment. With most of the pre-season's optimism fading, Russell Slade may have to think long and hard about the tactics and formation he is currently putting his faith in.
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