League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
You’re not fit to wear the shirt!
By: Luke Fraser
GRIMSBY Town sank to a new low last night as they were thoroughly humiliated by Darlington. The Quakers left Blundell Park 4-0 victors and it has be said the result reflected the vast gap in quality between a half decent Darlington outfit and a pitiful Mariners side!
It was back to 4-5-1 as the formation merry-go-round continued. Gary Jones was unable to play due to illness so Danny North started up front on his own. Till, Hunt, Boshell, Bolly and Toner made up a five man midfield and the back four consisted of Newey, Fenton, Atkinson and Hird, the latter two making their home debuts. Gary Montgomery continued in goal.
Darlington had a number of dangerous players in their line up, including Julian Joachim, Ricky Ravenhill, Gregg Blundell and Richie Foran. They even had the luxury of Pawel Abbott on the bench, a player who would walk into Town’s team.
Some recent performances, especially at Barnet and against Carlisle and Doncaster had given the Town faithful reason to think a corner had been turned. However, Grimsby were still in desperate need for league points. A good start was essential against the team lying second in League Two.
Anyway, after only three minutes Darlington took the lead! The visitors won an early corner, the ball was delivered right into the danger area and Alan White simply nodded the ball into the back of the net. Why do other teams make scoring goals look so simple? It was a disastrous start for Town and a further test of the patience of the loyal 2500 or so that had paid their hard earned cash to support their team.
Grimsby were sluggish and slow in the early stages and seemed unable to string two passes together. The Mariners also looked devoid of options as the 4-5-1 formation left Danny North hopelessly exposed, trying to win high balls against a big, tall centre back. Darlington, on the other hand looked lively and dangerous. They also created chances at will. Blundell had a half chance saved by Monty and Tommy Wright missed an absolute sitter when he volleyed the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score. It really should have been two-nil! In fact the only Town player making any contribution to proceedings was Monty who saved well from Ravenhill and Ridley. It was only a matter of time though before he was picking the ball out of the net again!
Darlington added a second on 25 minutes. Good link up play between Joachim and Cummins led to a cross into the box towards Blundell. He had time to control, turn and shoot into the corner of the Town net. Cries rang out from the Pontoon of "You’re not fit to wear the shirt!" I can't remember a time in recent seasons, no matter how bad things have got, when this chant was more appropriate!
The customary early substitutions followed with Taylor and Bennett replacing Hunt and Hird in the space of five minutes. No doubt a cunning plan, more likely further evidence of the desperation and tactical ineptitude that has been far too evident this season. Different formation (4-4-2 I think!), different personnel, same old story.
Darlington still looked imperious to the lacklustre Mariners. They were creating chances, winning every second ball and working harder and as a unit. There really was nothing positive to grasp. Ravenhill tested Monty again from distance and as the half drew to a close the strangest thing happened, Grimsby Town created a chance. North played a through ball to Taylor, whose first touch let him down slightly, however, after being forced wide he laid the ball back to Toner who struck the ball just past the post.
Added time came and went before the "boos" rang around BP as the players trudged off at half time. It was awful. We were awful. Monty had fulfilled his job description but no one else had - manager included!
Isaiah Rankin replaced the invisible man (Peter Till) for the second 45 minutes as Alan Buckley made his final substitution. A last throw of the dice or another desperate act from a desperate man? I'd given up working out the formation and almost given up caring but a fresh half brought fresh hope. An early goal and it was game on!
The early goal came...but it wasn't for Town. Wright made a good run down the left, easily beating Fenton in the process. His cross shot was beaten away by Monty but first to the ball was Richie Foran, who knocked the ball into the empty net. Game over. Once again the cries rang out, "You’re not fit to wear the shirt!" Did any Town fan in attendance disagree - I doubt it very much.
Ironically, after going 3 goals down Grimsby actually started to compete. Whether this was a result of Darlington taking their foot off the gas or what - I do not know!
After an hour, Toner’s shot from the edge of the area was directed over the bar by Bennett when he really should have done better. Shortly after Nick Fenton’s volley was well saved by Stockdale and it looked like a consolation goal may be on the cards.
Rankin looked eager and dangerous, Toner was making occasional intelligent contributions and Andy Taylor’s pace was causing a few problems but the moment really had passed.
Darlington brought on Abbott and Colebeck for Blundell and Foran with 15 minutes to go.
With 10 minutes to go the first bit of action to get the crowd going ensued but it wasn't a chance, a goal or a moment of skill - it was a scrap (well sort of). North was on the end of a bad tackle from Ravenhill; Nick Fenton took great offence to this and was central to the melee that eventually saw him and White spoken to. It was hardly Hatton v Mayweather but it was far more entertaining than anything footballwise!
Grimsby had their best chance to score after 81 minutes but North’s shot was well saved by Stockdale in the Darlington goal, the ball rolling agonizingly across the line with no Town players on hand to finish off the move.
Darlington added a fourth in injury time when Cummins to finish a thoroughly depressing night in a thoroughly depressing manner. 4-0 and worth every cent of it!
Apologies for the negative and depressing nature of this report, but there really is nothing positive to say about last night. It was the worst display I can ever remember seeing for a Grimsby Town side. The players look clueless, the manager looks clueless and at this rate it’s going to take two very poor teams to stop Town slipping put the league.
Would a change of manager help? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is something’s GOT to change. Over to you Mr. Fenty.
Man of the Match: Monty. Playing at home, lose 4-0, goalkeeper Man of the Match. Enough said.
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