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Whittle: Goal
Whittle: Goal

After the Lincolnshire Show Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 11/02/2007

A Town defensive mistake on 46 minutes went unpunished. Town won a free kick on 47 minutes after a handball just inside the Rovers half. Newey floated a pinpoint cross for Whittle to power it home with his head. Grimsby Town 2, Bristol Rovers 2.

Unexpectedly, we were back in the game. The next few minutes was frenetic, end to end and skilful as a determined Town defence cut out the rapid Rovers strikeforce, and Rovers were forced to do some desperate defending themselves after good passing and build-up, with Boshell and Newey prominent.

Then, on 52 minutes, an inch perfect through ball from North split the defence and found Boshell who controlled the ball and coolly slid it past the advancing goalkeeper. Grimsby Town 3, Bristol Rovers 2. Gary Jones was now starting to prove his worth, holding the ball up as he does so well, and enabling Boshell in particular to create moves. On 57 minutes Jones set up Toner whose fierce shot brought about a good save.

An impressive Boshell - North link up created more danger. Rovers were not out of it and quickly got the ball back up field, firing in shots which Town did well to block. But Town were now starting to look impressive and a poor clearance from the Rovers keeper resulted from constant pressure. Jones was pulled down, and Toner won a corner. Town were now in the game and looking good.

On 61 minutes a Newey free-kick was cleared. Boshell put a cross in which again put the goalkeeper under pressure. On 64 minutes, a poor clearance from the defender ended up with Bore, who in spite of being covered, controlled the ball and pushed the ball back inside the box to Toner. Toner anticipated the pass, and was there first, turned and slammed it in from 8 yards out. Grimsby Town 4, Bristol Rovers 2. Fantasy time again.

Rovers came straight back and on 65 minutes had a chance but the shot was screwed wide. Another Rovers crossed on 66 minutes was headed over. Rovers were not out of it, and on 68 minutes made two substitutions to win back the initiative from Town, who threatened every time they took the ball. Options were being created through Jones’s endeavour and control. Boshell, Bolland and Toner were all making themselves available and spreading the defence. North was running tirelessly. This was once again a good team effort after the initial problems getting going. Whittle as ever was playing his part in defence and brought off a great tackle on 70 minutes.

Boshell showed great trickery and was a symbol of the growing confidence which had been lacking earlier. Toner almost got North through on 71 minutes but the goalie was there first. Rovers got a corner on 72 and fired in a shot which that man Boshell cleared off the line. Rovers still wouldn’t give up and were close to scoring on 76 minutes, wining a corner. Toner continued to provide links to North, while on 79 Bore showed electric skill by turning and surging towards goal.

After a desperate clearance, a free kick was won by the corner flag. Whittle went up but the ball landed at Jones’s feet and although good contact was made, it was fired over the bar. There was a less impressive move on 82 when Town went on another break away but for once instead of interlinking while the defence struggled, Boshell fired high and wide. Another defensive mistake, again the result of pressure, saw Toner and Jones link up while Bore set up another attack.

The work rate was stupendous. Newey fought to keep the ball in play and avoided conceding a corner while North was running himself into the ground at the other end. Barnes even caught a cross, inspiring an ironic cheer from the Town faithful. North was clear after a Toner pass on 90 minutes but was adjudged offside. Rankin came on straight after for North. Town had attacked relentlessly for the last 20 minutes but the attacks had become less effective as they tired. Rovers looked extremely dangerous still on the counter-attack and in the 92nd minute, Town’s defence was caught asleep as they got behind them. The ball was crossed to the unmarked Disley who volleyed the ball in from 5 yards out. 4 -3. The game re-started and immediately the referee blew for full time. Relief. Final score: Grimsby Town 4, Bristol Rovers 3.

Verdict. What a transformation. This wasn’t a flawless performance by Town but it was worth 3 points. Bristol Rovers are a good side and broke open our defence with good crisp passing and crossing which caused confusion and disorientation. Defenders are supposed to back each other up, not fall over each other. This needs to be worked on. Behind them Barnes did not look confident. In the outfield, we started with an aimless passing display which looked like breaking down altogether when Rovers scored twice. Town’s unexpected goal before half-time helped and Whittle’s header to equalise just after the break revitalised us. No fault could be found with Town’s work rate, which was excellent. And all without Martin Paterson too. After the equaliser, we saw 20 minutes of fluid and direct passing ... and 4 goals. We tired off and lost our way a bit at the end, but we’d done enough. Tactically, the introduction of Jones brought the ball control we needed and enabled the support units to gather, and options to open up. Toner, Bolland and Newey worked well to get the ball forward intelligently while North ran and ran. Man of the Match though was Boshell, who was everywhere, creating, defending, breaking open the defence and scoring. Overall, there was much reason for encouragement.

I had begun to wonder if I was going to spend the rest of my life having to watch the Boston DVD for entertainment and consolation, but this proved we can come back and win against a decent side.

I left BP. Arctic conditions prevailed. "Proper weather", Andy called it. Just like the old days. Who needs global warming? It was now time to transfer myself from a block of ice back to a human being again. Well, the sort of human being who studies league tables and things like that. Maybe along the way to the loony bin I will find my Doppelgänger, the frighteningly optimistic Andrew Dogdirty. A scary thought. For now though, I simply looked forward to some poisson frites à la Cleethorpes and a chance to reflect on a successful football and fiscal scenario.

Next time out, it’s the satanic fields of Mansfield. See you there.

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