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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Over and Out
By: Rob Sedgwick
TOWN'S season ended yet again with a dramatic injury time goal by Nick Fenton which rescued a point for the Mariners. The result meant Shrewsbury got the point they needed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time in their history.
The "final" game at the picturesque Gay Meadow took place in a jovial atmosphere, the game of course having two additional sub-plots of play-off qualification and the minor matter of John McDermott's 753rd and final appearance for Grimsby. The Shrews were busy flogging off merchandise to commemorate the last game at Gay Meadow, the great secret being that it wasn't very likely to be the final game at all, even if they were beaten. No doubt everyone will fork out and buy it all over again next week.
After a huge number of former players from the dark and distant past were paraded before the crowd the play began with Macca taking his customary right back position for the final time, a fact warmly applauded by both sets of fans.
Town started with a 4-4-2 formation, the injured Danny North being replaced by young Andy Taylor. The poor playing surface I suppose was understandable given the imminent departure of the football club to pastures new somewhere on the edge of town.
Shrewsbury created the early chances but failed to make the most of them. Langmead headed a ball from a corner into the ground, a cross from the dangerous Asamoah went across the face of goal and Cooke could only hit a tame shot straight at Barnes with the goal at his mercy.
But it was Town who gave the home side a finishing lesson when young Andy Taylor was put through by a weighted Paul Bolland pass. The 18-year-old clipped the ball past the 'keeper for a wide angle and it trickled over the line despite an attempted interception from a defender.
Town grew in confidence after the goal and they were not seriously troubled by Shrewsbury in the remainder of the half.
Shrewsbury almost drew level within 10 seconds of the restart, Cooke blasting an effort narrowly wide of goal. Town were being put under a lot of pressure and the crowd started to get anxious with other results not going their way. Maybe it really was going to be the unlikely combination of results which would mean there wasn't going to be another game here....
Enter the referee. The official clearly knew than the script demanded a home win with Grimsby having nothing to play for. A innocuous push by Toner somewhere near the touchline and probably outside the penalty box saw the official award a spot kick for which nobody in the ground had even appealed. The Town protests were swept aside and Davies sent Barnes the wrong way from the spot. Gay Meadow suddenly came to life.
Sub Peter Bore almost immediately had a chance to restore Grimsby's lead but he clipped the ball from a corner just past the post from close range.
The referee then harshly awarded a free kick against sub Whittle near the corner flag, which Shrewsbury took quickly and Langmead headed in to give Shrewsbury the lead. The "proper" outcome was now almost complete and everyone could go home happy with the exception of a few hundred Grimsby fans who had had the temerity to turn up to spoil the party.
Shrewsbury could then have wrapped it up without the aid of the official, but Phil Barnes produced a world class save to deny Davies.
With the celebrations about to commence in the final seconds of injury time Town were awarded a corner. 'Keeper Phil Barnes came up for it and the ball was cleared for another corner. Toner's free kick was flicked on by Barnes to Fenton who gleefully dispatched it into the net. Justice had been done.
A draw was probably fair result on the balance of play but had Shrewsbury lost they would have missed out of the play-offs, it transpired.
Macca and the players said their thanks and farewells (including Macca's boots), and everyone wished Shrewsbury the best of luck in the play-offs where they face the much hated MK Dons followed by the possibility of our country cousins from Lincoln. As we left the town we were thanked and waved to by Shrewsbury supporters lining the streets, all very civilised for once.
So the season is over and we can all relax for a few weeks until the itch to see those new signings take the field in the pre-season friendlies overcomes us.
MOM: Phil Barnes. Won everything in the air, commanded his box and made a world class save in the second half.
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