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Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
|Rob Jones: MOM|
Going to the Wire
By: Kevin Dolan
GRIMSBY Town gained a vital and well-earned point in a tense, goalless draw at Leyton Orient. With defeat not an option, the Town defence did itsâ€™ job and justifiably kept a clean sheet to keep automatic promotion still very much within reach.
The Mariners also nearly pinched a massive three points with their two best chances falling to Marc Goodfellow in second half injury time; one hitting the bar, the other being screwed agonisingly wide.
Russell Slade made significant changes from Saturday starting with a 4-5-1 formation and using Gary Jones as the lone front man. Kalala and Cohen both came into midfield; Parkinson dropped to the bench whilst Michael Reddy failed a fitness test and missed out altogether. In defence Croft came in as expected for the injured Newey.
Town clearly set their stall out not to concede an early goal and the first half was largely incident free. The only effort of note was when Orientâ€™s Wayne Corden was allowed to run unchallenged towards the Marinersâ€™ penalty area, but his well-struck shot was straight at Mildenhall, who blocked it.
McDermott went off with a pulled hamstring after 20 minutes and was replaced by Mendes. Cohen, who had started brightly and looked fully fit, filled in at right back and went on to have an impressive performance in his makeshift position. Around the half hour mark Town began to exert themselves more on the game and controlled the last 15 minutes of the half, although with plenty of good possession they failed to carve out a real opportunity; Gary Jones getting the only half chance towards half time when his near post flick was easily gathered by the Orient keeper.
The Mariners started the 2nd half sluggishly and Rob Jones was called upon to head over a dangerous cross from under his own crossbar. With Orient starting to get a little on top, Slade saw something needed changing and reverted to 4-4-2. Parkinson replaced Kalala and went out on the right; Mendes joined Jones up front. Parkinsonâ€™s first touch was to put in a cracking cross, which the Orient defenders did well to deal with and Town were now a more potent force.
Their best opening came with twenty minutes left. Goodfellow carried the ball from his own half to the edge of the penalty area taking the defence all one way before switching the play and leaving Parkinson with a clear run on goal. Whether the substitute was on the back foot or whether his lack of sharpness told is unknown, but he failed to reach Goodfellowâ€™s pass and the ball harmlessly slid away.
The home side made two substitutions and Ibehre had a low effort well saved by Mildenhall as the game became more open.
The majority of the afternoonâ€™s drama, though, was saved for the three minutes of injury time when the match could have been won three times.
First Orient pressed down Townâ€™s right and a cross to the far post left Croft with two to mark. The ball was flicked on to Gorden who turned inside but fired the home teamâ€™s best chance high over the bar from only 10 yards.
The Mariners then raced to the other end. The ball was laid back to Goodfellow on the corner of the penalty area and, with nothing really on, he clipped a superb lob over the despairing keeper and back off the far side of the crossbar.
Orient cleared, but Town immediately won the ball back. Bolland raced on to the right wing and hooked a high cross to the far post. Jones headed the ball back across the 6-yard box, Parkinson challenged with a defender and the ball rolled out to Goodfellow about 15 yards. With the Orient defence resigned to conceding, Goodfellow went to drill the ball into the corner of the net, but pulled it too much and the ball flashed inches past the post. There would have been no chance of a comeback.
Overall Town can feel happy with a point. The match was â€˜must-not-loseâ€™ and Russell Sladeâ€™s tactics were spot on. Town never looked like conceding and gradually enforced themselves into the game. The lack of a killer-pass in the final third was the only disappointing aspect.
Orient were disappointing full stop. Possibly too scared of losing themselves and/or fancy they can win their last three games, the home side never put Town under any sustainable pressure and created minimal opportunities.
Townâ€™s two key men were Rob Jones and Marc Goodfellow. Goodfellow could have easily won man of the match if he had secured the three points at some stage; but credit to Rob Jones, a rock in defence.
The Mariners have now hopefully revived their promotion push; but must surely take advantage of playing a day before their rivals to enable the pressure is all on Northampton and Orient come Saturday.
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