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Peterborough 2 Grimsby Town 2
By: Kevin Dolan
10-MEN Grimsby Town produced probably their best performance of the season to earn a thoroughly deserved point in a frantic match at London Road.
A man down after Gary Jones' 37th minute sending off, a sterling 2nd half display twice saw Town take the lead through Ciaran Toner and Peter Bore, only to be pegged back on each occasion by an unimpressive Peterborough side.
The Mariners made two changes from Saturday's defeat to Notts County with the injured Paul Bolland being replaced by the back from suspension Ricky Ravenhill, and Tony Thorpe dropping to the bench for new loan signing Kevin James, who took his place up front with Bore and Jones in a 4-3-3 formation. With Whittle and McDermott on the bench and Bolland absent, Nick Fenton took over as captain, whilst Peterborough handed a full debut to ex-Mariner Ben Futcher.
The home side opened better and put Town under pressure for the first five minutes, however the first chance fell to Town. Jones received the ball on the right and found himself and Bore two-on-one with a defender. His pass through was good but Bore's first touch was poor and the defender and keeper gratefully cleared up. Town then went on to have the better of the exchanges; Jones had a good shot blocked by Futcher and then James was denied by a last ditch tackle by the same man.
Peterborough had rarely threatened and the first shot took 27 minutes to arrive, even then Barnes comfortably saved Butcher's long-range shot. The best chance of the first half fell their way 10 minutes before half time when a deep cross from the left was controlled at the back post by Newton, who cut back and laid the ball off for Crow, but his shot was scuffed wide from 10 yards.
The referee, whose interfering and fussy behaviour came close to ruining the match, was then to change the shape of the game. Town again attacked with purpose and Jones worked some space before putting Bore clean through. His shot was blocked and the ball bounced out. Jones and Peter Gain both went for a 50-50 ball and Gain reached the ball just before Jones' lunge. The Peterborough player went down and the referee instantly brought out a red card. Jones and the rest of the Town players immediately proclaimed his innocence, but Town's good work of the first half now looked to have come undone.
Town reorganised and moved to 4-4-1 with James moving to a more orthodox right wing position and Bore playing as the lone front man. The rest of the first half was largely incident free as Town looked to hold out until half time.
For once Town started the half better and took control of the game. The first chance of the half fell to Toner whose shot from the edge of the area was tipped over for a corner, and it was no surprise when Town did take the lead after 52 minutes. Peter Bore escaped down the right, cut in and fired in a shot that Tyler did well to save. The ball rebounded and was controlled by Toner on the edge of the area, who ran into space and drilled a low left shot foot towards goal, which was slightly deflected by two despairing defenders and flew through the keeper's legs. 0-1
Despite the lead, Town carried on pressing and from a free kick Fenton had a header saved, but then just as Town looked close to finding a 2nd, Peterborough equalised against the run of play. A long ball over the top caught the Town defence out and with Barnes charging out, Danny Crow flicked the ball past him and the two collided. The ball rolled towards the empty net, but Andy Butler managed to get back and clear for a corner. Crow received some treatment and Town lost concentration as the deep corner was met (predictably) by Ben Futcher who cleanly headed into the corner of the net. The lack of a Town man on the post was fully exposed. 1-1
The home side finally gained some impetus and for the next 10 minutes the direct ball went into overdrive as long balls and deep crosses were repetitively launched at the Mariners penalty area. Town managed to weather the storm, and with just under 20 minutes to go, broke and took the lead again. A ball over the top had Bore and Branston fighting it out to get there first. Branston did, but dangerously tried to head the ball back to the keeper only to woefully put too little on it, allowing Bore to run on and flick the ball over Tyler. 1-2
The game was now end-to-end and the home side equalised again with 11 minutes to go. Day launched another deep cross, the ball was nodded back from the far post and Benjamin had too much time to control the ball in the centre of the penalty area. He turned and fired low in to the net. 2-2
To their credit, Town responded well and had two good chances to seal the match. Bore broke down the right, waited for support and then rolled the ball into Boshell's path, but his shot from 15 yards went over. Minutes later Bore again hassled both Branston and Futcher, beating them both, but driven wide. His shot from a tight angle was saved by Tyler and then deflected off Branston before rolling agonizingly wide of the post for a corner.
With the clock ticking down the home side desperately launched attack after attack to try and win the game. Benjamin had chances to grab his second, but the closest they came to securing three points was in injury time when substitute Huke found an opening on the edge of the area only for Barnes to deny him with a fine, full length save.
Overall Town can be proud of their efforts, such was the quality of their 2nd half performance it was easy to forget they were down to 10 men for all of it. With such doom and gloom surrounding the club, it was pleasing to witness a determined and skilful performance as well as a generally entertaining game. The most satisfying aspect was that Town showed some assured tactics, even after the sending off, and looked capable of scoring with the majority of their attacks. In contrast Peterborough's style had Keith Alexander rubber-stamped all over it and their bombarding attitude may rescue goals, but their overall play was devoid of any imagination and also showed substantial defensive frailties.
The 4-3-3 formation really worked in Town's favour and by James and Bore stretching the play, Toner and Boshell had much more space in midfield to get hold of the ball and pick out a pass, whilst the pace up front carried a threat at every attack. In the absence of Reddy, Rankin and Cohen this formation deserves to be utilised again.
Town's man of the match was undoubtedly Peter Bore. A quietish first half was followed by a stunning 2nd half. Playing as the lone striker, Bore ran the home defence ragged, constantly rescuing lost causes and creating chances for both himself and others. On this performance Bore has to remain in a forward position.
After this result and performance, Town now head into next week's home game with MK Dons with renewed vigour and safe in the knowledge that no ex-Mariners are in the opposition side.
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