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Cultured Football - Part 2
By: Andrew Doherty
TOWN started in lively fashion with Till supplying Paterson who tested Shearer with a low and accurate shot to the left corner. After a Hegarty shot on 47 which went well wide, Paterson showed more skill a minute later before the ball was returned.
As everyone thought Asamoah was going to control the ball to set up an attack from 30 yards, he drilled a shot in which had Barnes going the wrong way but luckily the ball bounced off the left hand post and across the goalmouth.
On 49, a Town break led to a free-kick but Ravenhillâ€™s effort found a Shrewsbury defenderâ€™s head. Shrewsbury looked sharp and to no-oneâ€™s real surprise on 52 minutes a quick and accurate passing move allowed Asamoah to find space, break clear and cross for the unmarked Symes to slot the ball into the net. Grimsby Town 1, Shrewsbury 1.
The game was starting to get niggly with Shrewsburyâ€™s Edwards objecting to a challenge by Pulis. The referee sorted things out. On 56 minutes after what seemed to be a foul on a Town player on the half way line, Edwards went clear for Shrewsbury and was adjudged to have been fouled, resulting in a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The ball curled past the wall but Barnes punched clear.
At this stage Shrewsbury were winning the midfield battle with greater determination and more players getting involved. Hegarty bucked the trend with a determined tackle before being taken off and replaced by Harkins. Clearly this was to bolster the flagging and inadequate resources in the centre of the field. Shrewsbury continued to press on and Town were lucky in the 60th minute when a free kick came in and bounced too high for Asamoah who had no chance of controlling it. The crowd was becoming restless.
On 61, Shrewsbury gained another free-kick on the edge of the box when after a cross passing move, it appeared that a Town defender stood on Asamoahâ€™s foot. The free-kick went wide. On 63, Paterson earned a free kick following a defensive error on the right side. Croft sent in a long looping cross but the ball was cleared. Till was pulled back by a defender but advantage was played, however the cross was poor.
On 65 minutes, Till was replaced by Rankin, again with a view to increasing the share of possession in midfield. Ravenhill had a shot which went wide. Town still werenâ€™t playing well and seemed to be uncomfortable on the ball, almost acting as if they wanted to get rid of it. The ever impressive Asamoah twisted, turned and dribbled in the Town area, prompting Andy to remark "I think this guyâ€™s on loan from Brazil", but Asamoah was unable to break through the defence for all the trickery.
Shrewsbury were showing more initiative and looking like the home side, none more so than when Ashton took a quick through and in a passing movement almost broke through Townâ€™s defence on 67. Asamoah, who seemed to be choosing the right options, found Davies in the penalty box on 68 minutes but fortunately Davies switched the ball to his right foot, which gave Town the chance to recover.
Town were still not winning much in midfield and when they did were relying on getting the ball to our danger man Paterson who on 71 minutes used his pace to break through, only to be chopped down by Herd who was booked. Harkinsâ€™s free kick from the left was poor but the ball was returned to Paterson who from the left side cut into the edge of the penalty box and shot low to the goalkeeperâ€™s right. The ball deflected slightly off Langmead and into the net. Grimsby Town 2, Shrewsbury 1.
Like Asamoah for Shrewsbury, Paterson was our best threat. When he did get the chance, he was using the right options, shooting accurately and was generally looking to be an extremely proficient striker. Town now came back into the game. A typical piece of hold up play by Jones on 74 led to a built-up attack, but Paterson, who was now working up the left, cut through the defence but had no-one to cross it to.
Moments later Paterson supplied Newey who had burst through but Shrewsbury made a solid block. Looking across the field, the substitutions were starting to have an impact. Harkins was providing reinforcement in the middle, while looking across the front line there was Rankin, Jones and Paterson. Paterson on the left was causing all sorts of trouble with his dangerous runs and Shrewsbury were having problems containing him while Jones with his excellent control and hold up play was the ideal man for the middle.
To prove this, on 79, a good tackle in the Town half resulted in Jones working the ball out to Paterson who cut up the left and crossed for Jones on the edge of the box who was now free. Jones could have done better but his shot was blocked by a defender. Paterson saw the loose ball and in his excitement for the first time today shot over the bar. My neighbour and I in the Carlsberg stand agreed that weâ€™d forgive him one miss after all his hard work.
On 82 minutes Jones once again controlled the ball well but Rankin lost the ball in a passing movement. A further defensive mix-up could have put Shrewsbury clear but Fenton made a solid header to clear the danger. On 84, with Town in the Shrewsbury penalty area, a Ronaldo-style stepover by Jones resulted in the ball being cleared to Rankin whose chip was gathered safely by Shearer. Town were now starting to dictate terms and were moving the ball slowly towards the Shrewsbury corner.
On 88 minutes, Shrewsbury won a free-kick which in spite of being under pressure Barnes punched solidly to alleviate the danger. The resultant long throw led to a scramble by the right hand post and a corner for Shrewsbury. The goalkeeper came up but the corner was ineffective and Town had a goal kick.
As 4 minutes were added on, Shrewsbury attempted to clear the defence but Fenton headed clear. Jones then controlled the ball and kept possession before being fouled. In a desperate attempt to get the ball, Ravenhill was fouled and retaliated after a scuffle, for which he was booked. Townâ€™s free-kick from their own half headed straight for the Shrewsbury corner and after winning a throw-in, the referee blew his whistle for full time with the final score Grimsby Town 2, Shrewsbury 1.
Verdict. When Shrewsbury equalised, it looked as though Town were going to be undone by a side who were stronger on organisation and marking, and at times skill, than we were. Two astute substitutions by AB meant that after having Till and Hegarty playing wide and not getting into the action, we were now able to reinforce the midfield battle with Harkins, while at the same time Paterson could be let loose to cause havoc on the left side while Rankin worked on the right centre and Jones was the hold up man in the middle. Town got back into a game they were in danger of losing due to lack of possession. Although the Shrewsbury goal was of concern on account of the static defence and space Asamoah and Symes were allowed, Townâ€™s defence was generally solid. Both Whittle and Fenton played their part courageously and effectively. My Man of the Match by a long way was Martin Paterson whose pace and skill on the ball were impressive, he chose the right options and with only one exception always made sure his shots were on target. Both of the goals he scored show what a quality player he is.
In ABâ€™s teams of the past we have seen intertwined fluidity of passing movements worthy of artistic recognition. The beautiful game, indeed. Today with the exception of Paterson, and to be fair Asamoah for Shrewsbury as well, we saw the other side of Bucklerian art and culture. No room for operatic prima donnas here, just hard work and solid tactics. "I just want 3 points, I donâ€™t care what the footballâ€™s like" commented Andy, proving heâ€™s no aesthete. He echoed the view of the 4000 or so Town supporters who witnessed todayâ€™s field theatre.
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