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Lady Luck Deserts Town
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY slumped to their second successive defeat but, as with the midweek loss to Chester at Blundell Park, today's 2-1 setback at Peterborough's London Road was rough justice on the Mariners, who deservedly led 1-0 through a Toner penalty after having hit the woodwork twice.
Alan Buckley made just one enforced change, bringing back Justin Whittle for the departed Dave Mulligan which meant that rookie defender Ryan Bennett moved out of position to the vacant right back slot. The Mighty Mariner had travelled with the team and was the first entity to emerge from the tunnel at the start of the game.
Town almost got off to the worst possible start. A defensive mix up at the back presented the ball to dangerman McLean. With Phil Barnes out of action on the ground, McLean just needed to put the ball in the net but struggled to find the shooting angle giving Ryan Bennett time to get back and clear the ball off the line. It was similar to Hereford's miss at Blundell Park last weekend although perhaps not quite as glaring. One out of two grandmothers may have failed to score.
After that Grimsby defended well throughout the first half and restricted Peterborough to just a handful of chances. Barnes had to make a good same direct from a Day free kick. With the ball moving in the air, Town's keeper made an acrobatic save to divert it round the post for a corner.
Peterborough thought they had scored an opener when Lee ran on and slotted the ball past Barnes, but the referee pulled play back for a foul on Whittle, a decision which Town were fortunate went their way.
Grimsby passed the ball around well in the first 45 minutes against the expensively assembled opposition but created no chances of merit in the entire half and appeared to have no end product at all.
The away end, helped by our drummer, started making a lot of continuous noise from the start of the second half, and this seemed to inspire Grimsby to step up a gear. Suddenly Town started to create chances.
Firstly Nick Fenton got on the end of a Town free kick but his header rattled the cross bar with the 'keeper beaten. Then in a spell where a number of Town players had shots blocked or saved, the ball rebounded out to Till with a bit of time and space but his measured shot struck the post.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Mariners scored and the away contingent of the crowd became even more animated. Peterborough though were still a danger and McLean flashed a shot across the goal.
Rankin was replaced by North about 10 minutes into the second half and coincidentally Town almost immediately were awarded a penalty for handball. Toner stepped up and dispatched the spot kick to the delight of the boisterous away fans behind the goal. It was no more than Town's play deserved.
However Town have shown an inability to hang on to a lead a number of times this season and Peterborough gradually began to assert themselves in the game. Their equaliser, however was an almighty fluke, albeit a spectacular goal. Boyd on the touchline probably about 50 yards from goal tried to cross the ball to the far post, only to see his effort loop over Barnes into the top corner.
Town now were on the back foot and needed Phil Barnes to make another excellent diving save from Mclean.
With the scores level Danny North was struggling in the lone striker role so Alan Buckley brought on Taylor for Clarke and the Mariners switched to 4-4-2. Town were going for it, although with three strikers on the bench and Peter Bore there weren't many options.
The referee then awarded a penalty against Peter Till for pulling down an opponent in the box. There did appear to be contact from my view at the other end of the ground. Mclean struck the ball in off the post to turn the match around in Posh's favour.
Till made way for Gary Jones as Town now pushed forward for an equaliser. Danny North though made the wrong decision when he tried to beat the keeper from a narrow angle when he could and should have passed to an unmarked Jones in the box. Ironically the lack of first team opportunities causing him to go for glory may further limit his chances of breaking into the team.
The match ended 2-1 but a draw would almost certainly have been a fairer result. Town should not be disconsolate however. The team played well against a side many of whom would on paper walk into the Grimsby squad (especially the forwards!). The away support was excellent throughout the second half, even when Grimsby were losing. If only the Pontoon were like that every week Blundell Park would once again be a fortress.
Man of the Match was Justin Whittle. The Mariners missed his presence on Tuesday night, and looked stronger defensively with their skipper back.
The deficiencies though were once more apparent. Primarily the lack of a striker who can put the ball away, although I'd personally like to see Buckley try something other than Rankin on his own up front for a couple of games at least. Ryan Bennett, although an excellent defender, is also not a right back and we need someone who can step into John McDermott's shoes.
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