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One Hand On Top Spot!
By: Kevin Dolan
GRIMSBY Town threw away the chance to claim top spot in League 2 with a goal deep into injury time salvaging Rochdale a point in the re-rearranged game at Spotland.
Paul Bolland looked to have secured a priceless three points for the visitors when his curling shot put Town 2-1 up with 8 minutes to go; but Richard Lambert's whipped corner was missed by everyone and gave Rochdale a deserved share of the spoils.
The Mariners made one change from Saturday with Kalala coming in for the injured Woodhouse. Rochdale lined up on their heavily sanded and bobbily pitch with ex-Mariners Tony Gallimore and Simon Ramsden (surprisingly playing right wing) included.
The game started at a fair pace in what was to be an open, if messy, game. Town slightly struggled with the pitch at first and the home side were more threatening in the initial stages.
Rochdale didn't look like a side that hadn't won at home since November and their first meaningful attack involved a cross from the right that had McDermott inadvertently directing the ball towards his own goal. Thankfully Whittle was on hand to hack away from the goal line.
Town worked themselves back into the game and took the lead on 23 minutes. Despite being played into a corner by Newey, Toner turned his man and created himself some space in his own half. His long ball for Reddy to chase, held up slightly by the sand in the penalty area, had the striker outpacing Mark Jackson who desperately tried to stop the Irishman and only ended up in shoving him to the ground. The referee immediately blew for a penalty. Somewhat surprisingly, Toner stepped up and calmly stroked the ball into the bottom left corner with the keeper going the other way. 0-1
The home side could have equalised almost immediately when a neat flick over the Mariners' defence presented Christie with a clear run on goal. Mildenhall narrowed the angle and saved the shot with his legs.
Town then had a brief period in control although their only real effort at goal was when Cohen escaped down the right flank. He expertly turned inside the full back, but then had his left foot shot deflected harmlessly into the keeper's arms.
As the half wore on Rochdale exerted themselves more on the game and created some good chances, the best of which fell to Christie. Similarly to his first chance he found himself one-on-one; but again Mildenhall saved with his legs and conceded a corner.
The 2nd half started much as the 1st half had ended and Town were made to pay for their sluggish play on 52 minutes. A free kick was whipped in from the left and a Rochdale player went down under a challenge from Futcher. The ball bounced off Mildenhall's chest and with most of the Rochdale players appealing for a penalty, and most of the Town players watching, Ramsden acrobatically volleyed the bouncing ball into the roof of the net from 8 yards out. 1-1. Town were all over the place and a nervous 10-15 minute spell ensued.
Gradually The Mariners battled their way back into the game and they looked to be heading for an unlikely three points when their best move of the match resulted in their 2nd goal on 82 minutes. A nice passing move down the left flank between Kalala, Toner and Newey set Reddy away on the left. His knee-high cross didn't find a black and white shirt, but fortuitously for Town a Rochdale defender made a shocking header straight to the feet of Bolland. The midfielder controlled the ball, cut inside and curled a superb finish into the home side's net from just inside the penalty area. 1-2
Town took control; professionally keeping the ball in Rochdale's half. They could have sealed the points when Reddy broke through on the right side of the penalty area; but his weak shot was half-saved by Gilks before a defender cleared from the 6-yard box.
The fourth official signalled three minutes stoppage time and the home side made one last assault. A long ball over the top put Christie racing away on the left, but his cross to the waiting Lambert in the middle was superbly intercepted by a last-ditch Newey block. The away fans breathed a sigh of relief; Town had conceded a corner when a goal looked likely.
However, the danger wasn't over and despite Rob Jones replacing Reddy to help out in defence, Lambert curled a corner straight into the net which everyone failed to connect with. 2-2. There were only seconds left to play.
Overall an away win would have flattered the visitors. Despite a generally positive approach, The Mariners struggled to create chances and Reddy's hard work down the flanks was not ably supported by the rest of the Town side.
Rochdale were similar to Bury in a lot of respect, showing different glimpses of their character. They produced neat build up play and created good chances, albeit wasting them, whilst also showing very generous defending at times. It's easy to see why their goals for and against column are both high.
Town's man of the match was probably Ben Futcher. Reddy worked tirelessly up front and Bolland was his usual tenacious self; but the big centre back produced one of his best performances so far for the Mariners dealing with a lot of the home sides probing balls.
Whether this was one point gained or two points dropped will remain to be seen.
|Made two good one-on-one saves with his legs in the first half, but maybe should have done better on both goals.|
|Macca was not at his marauding best with a minimal attacking contribution. Did all he needed to do in defence though.|
|Typical performance with some bits good, and some bits bad. Caught in possession in the 2nd half (as at Mansfield), but was not punished. Superb last-ditch block in injury time looked to have saved the day.|
|Decent performance at the back, covering well against the lively front two.|
|One of his best games for Town. Dealt with most of the balls thrown at the back four and recovered well when Rochdale stretched our defence. Calmer in possession too and played easier balls to the full backs.|
|One of his quieter games. Looked to have the beating of Gallimore early on; but found it harder to get in the game as the match wore on. Taken off in the 2nd half, possibly from a knock.|
|Standard driving performance. Always Town's best player when Rochdale were in possession. Took goal very well.|
|Made a decent claim for a first team place with a hardworking performance, although limited in his attacking contribution.|
|Again made a good effort on the left despite playing out of position. To his credit Town were much more dangerous down the left flank. Confident penalty too.|
|Very hardworking performance, constantly working both flanks. Much livelier than on Saturday. Shame his team-mates couldn't support him as well.|
|The fast pace of the game didn't suit Jones and he struggled to make an impact.|
|Replacement for Cohen, never adapted to the game.|
|Came on in injury time for Reddy just in time to watch Lambert's corner fly straight in.|
|Generally open and end-to-end. High on entertainment, but low on quality.|
|Seemed to get the major decisions correct, but was not helped by very debatable offside decisions given by the linesmen.|
|Both sets of fans made a lot of noise considering
only 1,865 were present.
Despite conceding a late sickener, Town would have been very lucky to have come away with a win. The Mariners gave as good as they got in midfield, but the home side created much better chances overall.
Without anyone making major defensive mistakes, Rochdale did seem to have the ability to get through the Mariners backline relatively easily. The main disappointment for Town was how poorly Reddy was supported. The prime example being an attack in the 2nd half when he whipped in a great cross from the right, but only one other attacker was in the penalty area. League Table
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