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Question of the Week

Should James McKeown be dropped?

Yes
No
Undecided



For my next trick…
For my next trick…

After the Lincolnshire Show

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 11/02/2007

YOU’D think that after a 6 - 0 victory, there’d be cause for confidence. A degree of temporary hope, perhaps, but this is Grimsby Town FC. Circumstances conspired that I could attend today’s scenario against Bristol Rovers, as Glenn Hoddle once called a Southampton cup replay against Tranmere.

I’d call it a football match myself. A decision had to be made. I wanted to go, the magnet of self-inflicted torture and disappointment being too great. On the other hand financial considerations were at the fore, with the cost of the trip to Boston and the forthcoming jollity at Mansfield to think of. It had to be Plan B. Spend nothing during the week. Save like a child keeping his pocket money for a coveted toy. And cut down on the foie gras. I believe this is called fiscal policy. I remember a guy at school called Stollworthy being told by his dad to stop studying this and to do some school work. I always thought fiscal policy was what happened when we played Barnsley. Then on Tuesday Andy Humbo rang me: "It’s only a fiver on Saturday, mate". I was Faust, Andy was Mephistopheles. But I have no soul to sell. The decision was made. No more agonising. Thank you, Mr. F. I’m going to the scenario.

Any lasting enthusiasm or excitement was drained long before arriving in Cleethorpes. The disconsolate masses, evacuated from their broken down iron horse, joined our train at Grantham. It was cold and wet. We, the grey people, were all delayed. Connection missed at Doncaster by 2 minutes, an hour to wait. Nothing to inspire in the capital of Dismalia so most of the time was spent in the barely-heated and anonymous bleakness of the platform 4 waiting room. It was a large room with few seats. It made a doctor’s surgery like the Comedy House. Across the bare wooden floor was a plinth. Someone must have stolen the noose, as it wasn’t there. The screen advertised delays. The announcer sounded as if he wanted to be somewhere else. If he’d announced a train to Copacabana, it would have been unappealing. No contest anyway with Cleethorpes. In any case we have the Barcelona karaoke club and the Bar Racuda of course. Today they were enveloped in cold, grey, misty, horizontal rain. The scene was set.

So here I was again in the frozen stands of Blundell Park, set for an afternoon of scintillating and enthralling entertainment. Alright, just 3 points will do. Not that we’ve had much of that recently against high-flying Bristol Rovers. The sense of foreboding was evidently shared by the woman in the newsagent’s on the Grimsby Road as I queued to buy the Evening Telegraph. Woman: "Braving it, are you?" Supporter: "Yes, we scored half a dozen last week and I didn’t go". Woman: "Well, that’s all you’re having for the year". Ah, the mystery of it all, infused with the biting Humber wind, bringing upon us large dollops of gritty reality. This usually means defeat. Time to find out if the Buckley-driven fantasy world we entered last week was going to continue.

On lining up, Town looked to adopt a 4 - 4 -2 formation but on starting it became apparent that 4 - 5 - 1 was the order of the day. Danny North was on his own up front with Bore and Toner out wide again, Bolland and Harkins in the middle, with Boshell in a free role supporting them. Same defence as last week: Bloomer, Fenton, Whittle and Newey, with Barnes in goal.

Town started to pass the ball but it was clear from the outset that they looked liable to get bogged down. Rovers were wise to the tactic and closed them down. Newey got a good tackle in and cross, while Boshell had a good run and a shout for a penalty, which was declined. Harkins was caught napping but Rovers were unable to capitalise. A good build up on 11 minutes led to Bore teeing up Harkins who blazed high and wide.

On 13 minutes, a quick Rovers move saw the ball with Disley on the left. Bloomer was too central. Disley saw the chance to go wide, cut back in and slid a left footed shot wide of Barnes. Grimsby 0, Bristol Rovers 1. On 18 minutes, Rovers won a free-kick in the Town half. The ball was floated in deep and behind the defence who fell over each other. The ball was cut back to Haldane who headed the ball in from close range. Grimsby Town 0, Bristol Rovers 2.

Town had been passing the ball around to this stage but as they are prone to do, it was hypnotic passing with no end result. On 21 minutes, Jones came on for Harkins. On 23 minutes, Town were lucky not to go 3 - 0 down when after a Bore foul, Town were organising themselves when a curled left-footed free kick went round the non-existent wall and almost caught Barnes out. The walls were tumbling down.

Bore had a shout for a penalty on 25 minutes, the only outcome of which was Boshell getting booked for dissent. Jones managed to get North through but the defence intercepted the pass and Town won a throw near the corner flag. Then on 29 minutes, Bloomer looked to be surrounded by the corner flag but skilfully he squeezed the ball past the defender and to Bore who did well to get a back header in from the front of the box. Danny North latched on to it and fired the ball into the right hand corner. Grimsby Town 1, Bristol Rovers 2.

Town livened up a bit after this and Bore was obstructed but passes were going astray. It started to rain. Rovers confirmed how dangerous they were on 34 minutes and in almost a carbon copy of the first goal, floated a free kick over the top of the floundering defence. Barnes was unsure whether to come out and Town were lucky to concede a corner. A second corner resulted in the ball being fired invitingly across the goal but no-one got on the end of it. Rovers were on top and on 40 minutes caused more problems with a defence-splitting pass. A good passing move again by Rovers just before half-time led to nothing. Town had one chance before the break, winning a corner, which was scrambled off the line. The half ended immediately. Grimsby Town 1, Bristol Rovers 2.

Half-time verdict. Town were showing signs of falling apart, and indeed were being taken apart by a well organised and sharp Rovers outfit. Boshell was creating openings for Town, and Bore looked dangerous but the passing was unreliable and the defence wooden and creaky. Humbo remarked that there was no confidence in the play. Rovers were running the show, and the only hope was that Town had managed to get a goal back. Over to you, Mr.Buckley.

The report continues in the Second Half

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