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By: Luke Fraser
THE Mariners went down 2-1 at home to Rochdale on Friday night as the Mariners' faithful endured another frustrating night at Blundell Park.
After an excellent second half performance at Rotherham, Alan Buckley actually started a game 4-4-2 at Blundell Park! Shaleum Logan came in for his debut at right back, Bennett moved into the centre of defence alongside Nick Fenton, with Tom Newey at left back. The midfield four consisted of Toner on the left, Clarke and Bolly in the middle and the in-form Peter Till on the right. Gary Jones and Isaiah Rankin formed the strike force.
The game started in a lively manner with both teams showing neat attacking play. Rochdale had an early corner that was comfortably dealt with by the Town defence and the Mariners were looking threatening especially down the right hand side as Logan and Till linked up impressively. Rochdale were awarded a free kick just outside the box after a foul by Fenton, but Phil Barnes claimed Kennedyâ€™s attempt at goal with relative ease.
As has been the case in recent weeks it was the visitors who took the lead. Newey was penalised for a foul on the left much to the dismay of the Mariners' fans behind the goal. The free kick was swung in and ADAM LE FONDRE, who has scored a few against Town in recent years, glanced the ball into the back of the net. It was a blow to Town, but they rallied well and although they were not particularly convincing in defence the attacking play was fluid and exciting to watch.
It wasn't long before the Mariners hit back and it was an excellent move down the right. Logan burst forward, played a lovely one-two with Till, who back-heeled back to him. LOGAN then beat a defender before hitting a rasping left foot shot into the corner of the net. It was a super goal and no more than Logan deserved after an extremely impressive performance. He celebrated in style with a succession of somersaults, not seen at Blundell Park since the days of David Neilsen!
The game had really sparked into life and Town went forward in search of another. Gary Jones had a shot blocked after neat work again by Logan and Ciaran Toner somehow managed to miss what seemed like an open goal, hitting the ball straight at the covering defender. Minutes later Rankin created a chance for himself just seeing his shot scrape past the post.
The chances were coming thick and fast for Town and they won a free kick in a dangerous position after Jones had brought down Till. It was one of many crude tackles by Rochdale but the first on the referee deemed worthy of a caution. Newey swung the ball in but Bennettâ€™s goal bound header was cleared off the line. In the next attacking move another Town half chance materialised but Rankin steered a difficult headed chance wide when unmarked in the middle of the box.
As the half drew to a close it was Rochdale who should have taken the lead as the Town defence switched off in customary fashion. Rundleâ€™s ball into the area went straight to Le Fondre at the far post, but as the stationary Mariners' defence watched he steered his volley wide when it looked harder to miss! There was still time for another missed chance for the Mariners but Paul Bolland couldn't quite make contact with the cross after good work by Isaiah Rankin. Soon after the referee signalled the end of the half.
Half Time Verdict: The Mariners had played some excellent football and Loganâ€™s equaliser was just what they deserved. The football was excellent when they went forward but the defence looked less than convincing and Rochdale were playing some good stuff and looked dangerous on the counter attack. Would Town regret missing the chances that had come their way?
Optimism was high as the second half began. Grimsby looked to continue where things left off and Isaiah Rankin was holding the ball up well and linking well with Jones. In fact it was Jones who had the ball in the net shortly after half time but before he headed Tonerâ€™s cross into the net the ball had just gone out of play. The Mariners fans celebrated but it was pretty clear the ball crossed the by-line. More good work by Rankin led to another half chance but Jonesâ€™ shot was well saved by Spencer.
Rochdale were still very much in the game though and hardened Town fans would have been fearing the worst. Bennett cleared for a â€˜Dale corner and it wasn't long before the visitors took the lead. Just before the hour mark Rundle swung in another cross and Murray had an easy chance to tap the ball home at the far post.
The Town boss responded by replacing Clarke and Rankin with Hunt and Taylor, no doubt hoping to add a bit of pace to the strike force, but Town really struggled to get to the pace of the game and Rochdale kept the ball comfortably as the Mariners failed to match the quality of their first half performance.
Peter Bore was also given an opportunity to impress, replacing Toner after 68 minutes. Peter Till moved to the left and Bore took up position on the right flank. Bore almost made an immediate impact, picking the ball up on the right and surging into the Rochdale area but a touch too many saw him lose possession and the move amounted to nothing.
The game was drifting away from the Mariners as they struggled to create anything other than half chances. Tom Newey wasted a couple of chances to get the ball into the box as his crosses lacked the required quality. At this point it looked more like Town would concede a third rather than equalise as Rochdale counter attacked with pace and the Mariners struggled to string together any number of passes.
Three minutes of injury time came and went and Rochdale won at BP for the second successive season (at least it was an improvement on last season's 4-0 caning!)
Full Time Verdict: Another frustrating match for the Mariners. A bumper crowd of 5,829 had turned up and after an excellent first half performance there was a real positive atmosphere at Blundell Park. The second half was nothing short of awful really. Grimsby must put together a performance for 90 minutes if they are going to climb up the league and away from the treacherous relegation zone. The football was top notch in the first half and maybe with the elusive striker we are searching for we may have gone in at half time 1 or 2 goals up. There was however a certain inevitability about the second half especially after Rochdale took the lead. Town lacked ideas and purpose and never really looked like equalising. After all this was a team in the bottom reaches of the league not a team up the top! I have faith in Mr. Buckley and we must show patience but we are in a results business and hopefully things will turn round soon.
Man of the Match: After his first half performance it has to be Shaleum Logan who looked different class. Solid, pacy and linking up well with Peter Till, his goal was fantastic. The only question is how long can we keep him in black and white stripes. A season long loan would be a real boost.
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