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|Reddy: Solo Goal|
Fish in Cheltenham Part 2
By: Andrew Doherty
THE half started with a lot of bustle in midfield and a lot of throw-ins. Bolland battled but gave a free kick away. For the first time, the game started to be ragged and the passing on both sides was not so good. Is danger imminent? Would Town keep their concentration?
Cheltenham's Spencer was somewhat unfairly booked for trying to keep the ball in play, but it proved that there was no loss of determination since the first half. Everyone seemed to be bunched into a quarter of the pitch like a schoolboy game. Any semblance of prettiness had gone. Gary Jones was booked for encroachment/time-wasting* (*delete as appropriate) while Cheltenham decided to get in on the act and waste their own time by taking the free kick too early. On 55 minutes a Parky through ball momentarily restored the excitement. Reddy got the ball through to Francis who could not make progress. The Battle of the Town Right Defensive Quarter resumed, and in the middle of it all was the tenacious Bolland, who injured himself battling for a header and landing on his head. It was immaterial that the referee had already awarded a free-kick for Town. Bolland battles. Rob Jones bundled a defender over and gave away a free-kick but nothing came of it. On 60, Newey got his obligatory booking for a mistimed tackle. It was more like the first half as the ball came quickly upfield, leading to a break by Francis who had neither the pace nor support to get anywhere. Cheltenham were soon back on the offensive and earned a free kick when Rob Jones tangled with one of their players. An intricate set piece resulted in abject failure of the highest order. Cheltenham sustained the pressure, however, and another cross came in but was cleared by the heroic Town defence. On 63 a left sided cross was bundled out. In it came from the right and for the first time tonight the Jones/Whittle rock solid crew could not clear the ball. Odejayi stood on the 6 yard line and blasted it ... it hit the top of the bar. How did he miss? What a let-off. Lucky, lucky Grimsby.
64 minutes had gone and it was time for Town to put on some pressure. A high cross was easily dealt with, and Cheltenham worked their way upfield before losing possession. The ball was worked up from the Town defence to the left touchline, where Reddy was on his own, with two defenders inside him and no support in sight. Reddy weighed up his options, and threw the first defender off by cutting inside. He then picked up pace to shake off the second defender and ran across the field to the edge of the penalty box. The goalkeeper had come out to narrow the angle but Reddy saw him and slid the ball low and into the left hand corner of the net. 2-0 to Grimsby! And what a fantastic solo goal by Michael Reddy! Surely this was the end of Cheltenham's resistance. 'Que Sera Sera ... We're going to Barnsley' sang a section of the crowd in anticipation of promotion and luxury Door to Door Holidays next year. Parky came off to rapturous applause, to be replaced by Cohen. Cheltenham were soon back on the attack, but a scramble led to another fine display of organisation and miserliness by Town's defence. All Cheltenham's efforts were coming to nothing while Mildy showed great authority in Town's goal. All the indications were promising.
On 74 minutes, Town were back on the attack. Cohen ran up the left, demonstrated good skill and gave it to dangerman Reddy. Cheltenham were prepared this time and blocked him out. A minute later they were back up the pitch and there were big shouts for a penalty ... not given. The ball was blasted over the bar. For all Cheltenham's dangerous attacks and urgency, Grimsby remained composed and seemed in control of the game. Another header over the top of Town's goal was followed by a trip and a free-kick on 78 minutes. Mildy gathered the ball safely yet again. 80 minutes, and it was off to the races again (well, it is Cheltenham after all) but the gazelle-like winger crossed the ball right across the goalmouth. Goal kick to Town. The ball was lofted upfield and Reddy got into a tangle outside the Cheltenham penalty area. On 82, the ever popular Gritton came on for Gary Jones and almost made an immediate impact with an attempted through ball to Reddy. More hustle and bustle, and Cheltenham managed to win another corner on 85 minutes. Three or four shots were fired in but there were loads of bodies in the way.
Grimsby's defence was as solid as a rock. It's clear to see why we're not conceding many goals. The well-drilled defence was demonstrating their positional skill time and time again. The ball came out and we almost went clear again, but Newey sent the ball too far. Man machine Rob Jones came to the rescue again, clearing with his head on 88. Town got the ball upfield again, and Reddy's determination won us a corner. Newey crossed, and the ball came back to Cohen who had two creditable attempts, which the Cheltenham goalie saved. Almost time now, and Ramsden came on for the impressive Francis, who left to rapturous applause and appreciation. Cheltenham were now increasingly desperate in their attempts and were now finding the roof of the stand with their shots. The ever- battling Bolland tried a through ball, but the ball came back to Town's defence. The 90 minutes were up now. Cheltenham's defence had pushed up. The ball came out from the left side of Town's defence into space with a defender nearest and Cohen moving in behind. Cohen raced on and beat the defender for pace, gathering the ball, taking aim from the edge of the box and sliding it under the goalkeeper. 3 - 0 to Grimsby !!! Are we in fantasy land here or what? Mass scenes of jubilation as the Town fans in the In2Print stand went wild. A few passes later and it was all over. We're top of the league again!!
The verdict. You could argue that 3-0 flattered us, given that Cheltenham were quicker and did most of the attacking. On the other hand, we should recognise that we beat a very decent side. Whilst Cheltenham missed one golden chance on 63 minutes, which was the turning point of this game, we counteracted their pace and enthusiasm with a battling display. The performance was composed, the passing was good and our positional play, particularly in defence, kept Cheltenham at bay. It's impossible to say who our man of the match was, because although it wasn't all great - if Kalala made a contribution, I missed it - there were strengths all over the team. Reddy, Rob Jones, Whittle, Francis, Mildy, Macca, Cohen were excellent, which takes nothing away from the others, but once again my man of the match was Bolland. His pugnacious contribution epitomised the team ethic, which has clearly built up in this squad. Add to this the sublime finishing and the organisation of the defensive unit and there's every reason to think that we will stay at the top of the table and get to go to Barnsley next year. I can't believe I'm saying that. All credit to the team.
Up the Mariners.
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