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Out of Our Hands: Macclesfield Report
By: Kevin Dolan
GRIMSBY Town let control of automatic promotion slip out of their hands with a disappointing 1-1 draw at Macclesfield. Coupled with Leyton Orientâ€™s victory over Peterborough, the Mariners must now better Orientâ€™s result next weekend to make the final automatic promotion spot.
Gary Jones gave the large away following plenty to cheer when he headed in after 40 minutes. The joy was short-lived, though, when Marcus Richardson equalised almost immediately.
There was one change from the side that started against Cheltenham; Parkinson replaced Mendes on the right wing. Michael Reddy was included despite obviously struggling with his groin injury. Macclesfield lined up with two ex-Mariners in their side and both Alan Fettis in goal and Paul Harsley on the right wing had decent games
The Mariners started very brightly and dominated the first twenty minutes. Parkinson had an on-target shot well blocked, Bolland chose to lay ball back when in a good shooting opportunity and Rob Jones headed over from a corner. Reddy, although blatantly not fully fit, saw a lot of the ball and was causing problems down the flanks.
Unfortunately for Town Rob Jones went off injured after 27 minutes, presumably for aggravating an injury, and was replaced by Ben Futcher. Town had started very confidently in defence, but the substitution unsettled the back four and the absence of Jones was very clear for the rest of the match
The home side had now got themselves into the game and started to have some decent efforts on target, albeit generally from distance. Their best effort came from Navarro whose long range shot was tipped out for corner by Mildenhall.
Five minutes before the break Town took the lead. Goodfellow was fouled on the left wing, but managed to keep hold off the ball. The referee thankfully let play continue and the winger looked up and picked out Gary Jones at the far post with an excellent cross. The target man had expertly peeled away from his marker and coolly looped a header back into the far corner of the net giving Fettis no chance. 0-1
The lead was probably just about deserved. However, it only lasted for 90 seconds. Conceding the goal brought Macclesfield to life and they scored from the next effort. Town lost possession on their left side and allowed Harsley to cross. The defence had switched off and Richardson came in unmarked to divert the ball past a wrong-footed Mildenhall. 1-1
Encouraged by the equaliser, the home team spent the remaining first half minutes camped in townâ€™s third pushing for another one. The half time whistle came at a good time for the away side.
The 2nd half started quietly and both sides struggled to get into their stride for the first 15 minutes. It looked as if the home side were generally happier with the point, but as the half wore on it became more and more evident that they fancied their chances of winning the game.
The first incident of note of the 2nd half came on the hour mark. Macclesfield won a free kick 25 yards out and Harsley curled a low effort against the outside of the post when most of the away end thought it had gone in. The Mariners then had a few half chances when Goodfellow fired straight at Fettis and Gary Jones stretched but could only head over.
With Town struggling to get a hold of the game, Slade brought the 70% Reddy off and replaced him with Mendes whilst pushing Cohen forward. The assumption was that we had switched to a 3-4-3 formation; but for the last 20 minutes it was hard to tell were anyone was meant to be playing.
In truth the last half an hour was a mess from our perspective. By now Town had lost all shape and all composure and had no tactical ideas. For a 15 minute spell the ball was constantly in our third and only desperate last minute tackles and blocks and poor finishing prevented us from going behind. After playing the ball around in the first half, Town desperately resorted to aimless long balls, constantly giving away possession and encouraging Macclesfield to come again and again.
The best chance for the home side fell to substitute Bullock. The ball was pulled back from the right wing and, with Mildenhall slightly out of position; Bullock sliced his 15-yard shot wide of goal and into the path of another onrushing Macclesfield player who despairingly couldnâ€™t apply the final touch.
Toner came on for Goodfellow with 10 minutes to go and towards the end the Mariners did manage a meaningful attack when Woodhouseâ€™s drilled 25-yarder was well saved before Cohen hooked a volley straight at Fettis; but the away side were generally struggling to get within range of the home sideâ€™s goal.
So itâ€™s out of our hands. The first half was generally ok. Town had a lot of possession, especially early on, and without creating lots of chances looked as if the three points were definitely within their grasp. If they had held the lead until half time then the 2nd half couldâ€™ve been a lot different.
In contrast the second half performance was a shambles. We looked more and more desperate as the half wore on and all the hard work of the first 40 minutes in obtaining the lead was the exact opposite of the frustratingly directionless 2nd half. If it hadnâ€™t have been a crucial promotion game for us then we wouldâ€™ve have been grateful for the point.
Townâ€™s man of the match was probably Paul Bolland. In the first half especially, he drove on the team sometimes single-handedly. The injury to Rob Jones had a big effect on our defence and his organisation and communication skills were seriously missed after his departure.
The one saving grace is that Orient have probably the toughest game of any League Two team next week when they travel to Oxford who must win to preserve league status. It is feasible that Oxford do us a favour; but then thereâ€™s the small matter of beating Northampton.
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