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The Return of the Gasheads Part 3

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 14/12/2005

COHEN and Reddy started proceedings off by showing endeavour, but the first worrying moment came after 4 minutes when a Rob Jones tackle led to a Rovers free kick outside the box. Good work from Toner led to Reddy being bowled over on 7, but nothing came of it.

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Town were lucky on 8 when excellent control from the dangerous Agago resulted in a clear chance for Walker whose shot ran tantalisingly across the goal. Reddy found himself offside a couple of minutes later before Bolland put in a nice cross ball to Cohen and then to Reddy who was bundled over. This was clearly the basis of Rovers’ tactics. There was plenty of industry from the Town players but nothing convincing. Murmurings were heard about Mildy’s poor clearances which were giving Rovers the advantage. Some nifty work by Rovers on 14 minutes ended with a Bolland tackle. Town’s turn to dazzle on 15 when Toner put in a cross ball, but Cohen’s shot was weak. The neat football was coming from Rovers who won a corner on 17 and had a half chance on 19. For Town, Toner was using the ball well and linking up with Cohen, who was cramped for room and was struggling to control the ball. On 23, after some admirable battling by Croft and Reddy, Town won a free kick on the right. Shearer in the Rovers goal fumbled Newey’s kick but Town were unable to capitalise. The first real moment of tension came when the crowd in the John Smiths watched to see if the ball, which had been ballooned into the sky, was going to roll over the top of the Main Stand. It didn’t. Cohen and Parky changed wings on 25 to add a bit of variety. Bolland sent Newey down the left on 26 and a corner was won thanks to Newey’s battling. A Jones header was followed by a weak shot from Bolland. On 29 there was momentary doubt about Rovers being offside but it was given. Toner had a chance with a volley, which just went over, but just as the sea looked calm beyond the stand, the game was becoming becalmed. Revis put her gloves on. Rovers were happy to stifle the game, while Town seemed to think that hoofing the ball up field was going to get anywhere. On 31, a Rovers mistake gave Cohen a chance but he mistimed his shot. Two minutes later, Cohen had a shot blocked. Reddy put in a dangerous cross after good work but no-one could take advantage. Croft played a good long ball but Parky couldn’t get through. Croft in particular at this stage was trying to make things happen but Town couldn’t get through and it was all becoming a desperate struggle. Rovers were having their moments and won a corner on 40. Town’s best chance of the half came on 41 when Shearer had to save a back header from his own defender. A Croft pass led to Bolland being flattened on 43. Newey curled the free-kick over the bar. It came as a surprise when even one minute’s added time was announced, as nothing had happened ... in any sense much. Michael recollected the Brigg Town match he went to where the game was so bad that the announcer declared ‘We regret to inform you that there is 3 minutes of added time’. This game was heading this way. Town just did not have the energy and it was a relief when the half-time whistle went. Maybe the manager could instil some strength and energy into the performance.

Half time was enjoyable for the ships and the serenity of the river. No frustrating half-hearted attempts at breaking through the defence to worry about. Michael enjoyed hearing the Dave Clark Five on the PA.

Second Half. After a Rovers attack, Parky got the ball in a good position but sliced it. The Rovers defender went one better and sliced it out of the ground. Michael provided intelligent analysis: ‘Neither side seems worried about conceding corners, because they don’t seem able to do anything’. On 48 the ball was wellied into the sky for what I counted as the fourth time this half. ‘There must be something wrong with the ball’ said the man next to me, somewhat charitably. A familiar pattern was setting in. There didn’t seem to be any urgency about anything. On 51 Rovers fumbled the ball out of play. A Parky dribble led to a pass to Reddy who was tripped on the edge of the box. Newey stepped over the ball, Gary Jones passed it to him, neither of them knew what they were doing in this ‘set piece’, the ball was mishit to Parky who in best tradition it sliced it. Rovers had a counter attack and it was impossible to get away from the fact that whilst our ineptitude suggested that we wouldn’t score, they might. ‘There’s a Bristol Rovers supporter behind the goal wearing a pink T-shirt’ observed revis, adding interest. A rare few moments of pressure followed on 55 after Reddy won a corner, but rovers were back up the field, causing desperate work in Town’s defence. Walker shot wide. A Disley interception on 58 caused a worrying moment for Town, who were soon back up field courtesy of a Newey clearance which set Reddy away. Cohen got a header on target but straight at the goalkeeper. On 60, Gritton replaced Gary Jones. This seemed to trigger a lack of concentration by Town but the control by the Rovers player was poor. Revis complained of cold feet, adding ‘If I fall to sleep, it’ll be of boredom’. To Town’s fortune, Agogo found himself offside on 63 even though he didn’t look it when about to break clear. Reddy had a chance at the other end on 65 but in spite of being unmarked his header went wide. Bolland put in a cross-field pass and the move stopped when Cohen was knocked over. It was obvious to see how Bristol Rovers were giving Town no time, and yet Town had no response because they simply weren’t controlling the game. Newey put in a poor free-kick. Reddy almost powered through but the ball came back to Newey who wasted the cross. Gritton was showing more urgency than most and fired wide after a sweeping turn on 69. In the main though, no wonder no-one was controlling the ball - it was spending most of its time in the sky. Dead ball situations were being wasted. Newey put in another dire free kick before elbowing a Rovers defender on 72. Parky tried to break through on 75 but he was on his own and didn’t seem to have the strength. ‘They’re inviting us to break them down and we’re not capable’, commented the man next to me. The ball came back up field again, and was punted back to the Rovers end. On 78 Rovers broke away and were looking to link up when Parky put in a heavy tackle and conceded a free kick on the right side outside the box. The wall lined up, and Carruthers curled in a low left footed shot to the right of the wall. It deflected off Rob Jones’s leg and squirmed underneath Mildy. Grimsby 0, Bristol Rovers 1. Tom Newey take note of how to take a free kick.

A clearance on 80 could have led to Parky going clear but he hesitated and the chance was lost. Fog was descending on the river. Town continued to chase, with a Gritton shot and a Rob Jones header showing no threat but then Town had been no threat all match. There was no co-ordination. The ball was constantly hoofed upfield with 8 back and 2 up front, even at this stage. This isn’t football. For the umpteenth time the lightweight Parky was bundled off the ball, then Newey worked in with Cohen whose backheader won a throw, The ball came to Bolland whose low shot went wide to the relief of ‘No Save to Make’ Shearer in the Rovers goal. A Reddy burst on 90 took him too far. Cohen was bundled over in the corner. Mildy came up. Newey swung in a cross, a defender headed it out, the ball came back in ... but the referee blew the whistle for full time. Grimsby Town 0, Bristol Rovers 1.

The Verdict. Frankly, this was atrocious. Grimsby played awful, dire rubbish The most depressing thing was that Town came out in the second half with the same lack of tactics as the first half. What did the half-time team talk consist of? Time and time again one player was trapped in a group of Rovers defenders with no-one to help. The distribution and build-up were generally poor, allowing Rovers to make breaks. Rovers were a well organised side, but as a month ago, it was their determination which won the game. They also looked more skilful, but we’re not talking Chelsea here. It was clear from the start that they intended to give our attackers no room. Town’s tactics were non-existent and yet no adjustments were made other than a wing switch between Parky and Cohen, which achieved nothing. The game hinged on balls being hoofed upfield with the occasional attempt to pass the ball across field and open up the game. Midfielders and attackers just got bogged down trying to unlock the Rovers defence. There was no imagination and no energy. It might have helped if we’d made them run around more. Some of the players weren’t up to it. Parky seemed lightweight but worst of all for me was Newey who wasted 90% of the balls he played. There were odd touches from Toner and Croft, which gave moments of encouragement, and Rob Jones looked good in defence. Cohen showed lots of endeavour without achieving anything, but my Man of the Match in a dismal showing was Paul Bolland, who in his normal battling style at least tried to open up the defence by switching the play with intelligent and well-placed cross field balls. Apart from that there was nothing intelligent about this performance. This was the epitome of freezing grimness. The view from nihil.

`If you want to waste time, come to Grimsby Town’ announced my daughter Revis at the end, who suggested they should learn to play. I reminded of what she said last time ‘You sit in the cold and you watch rubbish’. ‘And you freeze to death’ she added. There was nothing to warm us here. OK, we agreed that we enjoyed our lunch and she liked the arcades, but as far as the football went that’s her 6th home consecutive defeat. At this rate I’ll be had up for cruelty to children. She rang her mum and told her ‘It was freezing cold. We lost 1 - 0’. Her rose was wilting. Once again we gloomily trudged back to the station and looked at the sad seafront illuminations before boogieing back to Basingstoke.

Can we have a refund please, Mr. Fenty?

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