Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
Grimsby 0 Northampton 2
By: Trevor Hewson
IT'S said that it is better to travel in hope than never to travel at all, and to my mind that's what tonight's game was all about.
For the last few months that hope has been taken away from us Mariners and to approach a tough looking game with some degree of hope, brought on by a couple of decent sounding performances away from home, was most definitely a better way to travel. It seemed though that a number of others did not share this enthusiasm: parking was that bit too easy for there to be throngs of previously disenchanted fans motivated enough to drag themselves away from the Champions League Rumble In The Jungle Get Me Out Of Here stuff. Instead there were 2500 give or take Town fans very loosely packed into BP to witness the 3rd coming of Mr Buckley. His return to the dugout was pretty low key and slightly spoilt as usual by the referee who decided to start the evening's entertainment.
Town kicked off towards the Osmond end with the same team from Saturday except Macca in for Newey. The opening exchanges were bright enough and Town pressed Northampton back with an early corner and a decent Macca cross both coming to nothing. Our visitors responded in a similar manner forcing a foul on Crowe and drawing good tackles from Harkins and Boshell. Our passing was tidy if not incisive, hampered in no small part by our stand-in players who are perhaps a little too little to be pitched in against the guile and muscle of a strong and well organised team like the Cobblers. However with Fenton organising well there seemed to be a marked improvement in the aptitude of the men in black and white halves.
More of the same followed: Town corners and a Crowe shot. In the 17th minute Northampton upped their pace that bit more and a through ball into the Town penalty area led to a shoulder to shoulder tussle between the nimble McGleish and Whittle, with the latter seemingly getting his toe to the ball, in turn slightly wrong-footing Barnes to give an early advantage to our Visitors. The game reverted to type: Macca overlaps forcing corners on the right with good play between Hegarty and Croft on the left. Bolland as usual was covering a lot of ground in the middle but Town could not break down the resilience in front of them and for all their possession few clear cut chances were being created. There was, at least from the distance of the Pontoon a reasonable shout for a Grimsby penalty firstly for handball and then for a foul, possibly on Hegarty but it was a long way away and my vagueness probably suggests that the Ref was right to deny the claims. As the half drew to a close Town reverted to Rodger type once or twice with high balls lumped up to North, but it's early days yet and I'm sure AB will soon put a stop to such silliness. A booking for Whitts and a chip into the box from the same player to Jones which brought an expected but decent enough save from the Cobblers `keeper was virtually the last action of an interesting rather than captivating 1st half. Northampton had other ideas as did our defence. A poor ball across the face of the penalty area by Harkins was made much worse by a slip from the otherwise impeccable Macca. This let in the opposition to the Town box and a nice lobbed up cross was easily converted by Turrell.
Northampton had the game under control by playing tidy football on the grass with a bit more incisiveness than ourselves, they also managed to score at just the right times to ensure we had the stuffing knocked out of us.
To try and wrest back some influence on the game Hegarty was sacrificed for Bore, but it was another young striker that offered Town at least some hope. With two similar runs after cutting in from the left Danny North cut through the Northampton defence, the first stopped emphatically by Diche who was booked for his troubles, the second ended with another wayward shot over the Pontoon goal.
For the next twenty minutes or so there were long spells of Northampton pressure, Bore had hardly touched the ball and the game was drifting away from the Mariners with not a lot of resistance. Harkins was then replaced by Ravenhill and Town's attacks became more regular but still ineffective. Bore and Macca linked up well on a number of occasions forcing corners that were ultimately wasted. Aside from a strange offside decision against North and a decent ball into the box by the same player which was cleared, the only highlight of the last few minutes of the game was the return of Rankin who was never going to change things but at least managed an appearance.
Northampton deserved their win and as a spectacle there was not too much to warm those sat in the stands. From a Grimsby point of view there are signs that we are improving, we looked much more organised than previously this season, the Buckley passing ethos is beginning to take shape but the personnel on show last night are still short of what we'd hope. North, Hegarty and Bore are just what we'd expect, raw talent that needs some nurturing, Harkins put in a curate's egg performance, and it remains to be seen if they all can make the grade. It's good to see that the injuries are seemingly starting to heal and with that there is still room for optimism.
As for a Town MoM it was a tough one in an average performance. I'd have to go for Bolland for his usual here, there and everywhere display
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