Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
|Marco Van Boshell|
Town Topple MK Dons
By: Rob Sedgwick
THE Mariners dented Milton Keynes' automatic promotion chances and banished any lingering relegation worries of their own with a battling 2-1 win at the National Hockey Stadium. A sensational goal by Danny Boshell and another from the impressive James Hunt were enough to carry Town over the line.
Despite a self-imposed boycott by a handful of Mariners' supporters and weekend engineering work on every line into the town which had made Milton Keynes about as accessible as Baghdad's Green Zone, 300 or so Mariners' fans assembled in the compact National Hockey Stadium. Like Brighton's Withdean it has an odd air about it; it doesn't quite feel like a football stadium, precisely because it isn't. For some reason the cow has been adopted as a mascot to replace the erstwhile womble, which appears to have disappeared along with much else of Wimbledon FC. The away end adjoined the pitch with not even at attempt at a barrier between the two. Refreshments were provided by a burger van behind the stand.
Town once again took the field in a 4-5-1 formation, Danny North returning up front as the solitary striker, The only other change was fit again Peter Bore being preferred by Alan Buckley to start in place of Till.
Town rapidly came under a lot pressure from a MK Dons site intent on securing another three points. As early as the first two minutes MK Dons had two successive penalty shouts, but the referee wasn't interested.
Town were getting a lot of men behind the ball, and MK Dons were largely confined to shots from distance, some of which went uncomfortably close. Firstly a shot by McLeod was well saved by Barnes diving low to his left. Then Edds volleyed narrowly over whilst Hunt was off the pitch getting a head injury treated.
At the other end Town looked dangerous on the break, with Tom Newey looking to get forward whenever he had the chance. On 32 minutes Newey crossed the ball to the inrushing Danny Boshell, who struck a ferocious volley at speed from a narrow angle past the 'keeper into the roof of the net - a League Two version of Marco Van Basten's famous goal in the 1988 European Championships. It was a sensational goal which had many of the home supporters applauding, and kept Boshell smiling until well into the second half.
Shortly afterwards McDermott brought down an onrushing striker on the very edge of the box, for which he was booked by the referee. The resulting free kick glanced off the wall for a corner,
In the latter stages of the half MK Dons had two headers which flashed over the bar.
MKD had peppered Town's goal with headers and volleys, but Boshell at the other end had shown them how to do it somewhat against the run of play but with a goal fit to grace any game. MKD were strong, physical and direct and pumped balls into the box. Town, helped by their 4-5-1 formation had to get 9 men behind the ball and defend in numbers. In contrast to the home team's approach, Town took the scenic route to goal, favouring a quick, passing game, working the ball out to the wings and aiming to get onrushing midfielders on to the end of balls.
In the second half MKD made a double substitution straight away which meant they were playing with three up front. Newey was also taking goal kicks for Phil Barnes, who had taken a knock in the first half. 45 minutes at this stage seemed like an eternity.
After absorbing a lot of early pressure Town went up to the other end of the pitch and won a corner. The resulting spot kick eventually came out to Hunt, whose volley lacked power but was perfectly placed to beat the keeper. It was fair to say that the scoreline did not reflect the pattern of play.
Grimsby, however, began to look increasingly comfortable and came into the game more having gone 2-0 up. Peter Bore, who had had a quiet game, was replaced by Till and the former Stoke winger gave Town an extra attacking dimension.
Paul Bolland had a golden chance to put Grimsby 3-0 up when he beat the offside trap and had a one-on-one with the 'keeper, who managed to get a hand to the ball and tipped it over.
It didn't look like being MK Dons' day when Macca cleared the ball off the line, but suddenly MKD were back in the game. Keith Andrews dug out a ball pitched to his feet like a yorker past Barnes to give the Dons a lifeline. Within a minute MKD could have equalised when one of their players ballooned the ball over the bar.
Almost immediately Town themselves should have restored their two goal cushion when the excellent Till almost scored a solo special on the break, but his rasping strike struck the crossbar. The match was now frenetic, end to end, and anything could happen!
With 15 minutes to go the last player Town wanted to see leave the pitch departed, Fenton hobbling off to be replaced by Grand.
In the last quarter of an hour MKD continued to press forward, playing with 4, 5 and even 6 players thrust into the Town box. McLeod had two chances, one a wild shot from an unmarked position with the goal at his mercy. Town at the other end failed to make the most of their breaks, with players on occasion choosing to shoot when their teammates were better placed.
Finally, after four minutes of injury time, it ended, and the Town faithful could celebrate properly. The Mariners had held on to record an excellent victory in a match which was a contrast of styles. For all the MKD pressure, Grimsby had four or five good chances to score and took two of them. If the first half was a smash and grab affair, Grimsby were more of an attacking force in the second following the introduction of Till, and could have won comfortably had Bolland taken his chance to make it three.
Man of the Match was Fenton, an impassable object in Town's back four. The whole team defended well as they had to against MKD's full frontal attack, but Fenton was at the heart of it and gets the nod.
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