Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Rob Sedgwick
THE Chesterfield team bus must have run over a black cat this afternoon as somehow Town managed to leave Saltergate with all three points. Danny North, aided by Lady Luck and the referee, was the unlikely hero of an amazing game that takes Grimsby to three wins out of three.
Alan Buckley recalled Danny North to continue what had looked his best pairing up front of Jones-North, the only other change being Jamie Clarke in central midfield in place of the ill Danny Boshell.
The tone of the game was set in the first minute when Chesterfield piled forward and an unmarked Niven directed his header wide from a dangerous position.
Shortly afterwards the game was marred by crowd trouble reminiscent of the 70s and 80s. Violence broke out at the home end which appeared to have been infiltrated by Grimsby supporters, while simultaneously fans were being plucked out of the away end by a phalanx of fluorescent-coated police and stewards. It was hard to concentrate on the game during this period which lasted several minutes.
With the sun low in the sky in the players' faces and a strong wind blowing their way, Town were penned back in their own box for long periods. When they did attack Town mainly resorted to long balls down the channels for the lively Danny North to chase.
On 25 minutes Ryan Bennett hacked down a defender running away from goal and received a yellow card, which means a one game suspension is coming his way. More importantly it also meant he had to play over an hour on a booking, which with the amount of defending he was doing, was far from ideal.
Five minutes later Niven broke into Town's box. With options available he took the wrong one, trying to beat Barnes on his near post, which the Grimsby 'keeper gratefully blocked.
Chesterfield were being given acres of space, especially on their left hand side. Town's Hird seemed to go AWOL more than once, giving their No. 11 all the time in the world to pick out the Spireites' strikers. Fortunately they didn't make the most of these chances, but it made life very uncomfortable for Grimsby.
On 35 minutes Barnes came out and missed an intended punch. The ball ended up being smashed goalwards and cleared by Hunt. It looked to have crossed the line by the time the Town midfielder hooked it clear from where I stood just a few feet away, but Chesterfield's appeals were waved aside by the referee.
From the resulting corner Barnes got a fingertip to the ball, deflecting it onto the post from where it trickled along the line until it was hacked away by Gary Jones.
Five minutes before the break Tom Newey should have been sent off. A ball into the box went over Newey's head and with nobody around him he decided to pluck it from the sky, scooping the ball down just outside the box. Newey had a similar moment of madness at Carlisle in the cup, when he was sent off. The Town players appealed profusely (heaven knows under what pretext - he always does that, he doesn't mean it?) and the referee only showed Newey a yellow card, despite having taken a red card out of his pocket initially. Barnes tipped over the resulting free kick.
With the first half in injury time it would have been a major accomplishment for Town to have gone in at the break with the score still goalless given how poorly they had played and with all the possession Chesterfield had had.
But the game was to take an unlikely turn. With time running down Town played another ball down the channel for Danny North to chase. There was still a lot to do but North controlled the ball, beat his man, and nonchalantly slotted the ball past the keeper. Another 4 or 5 fans were ejected from the ground in the ensuing celebrations.
Half Time. The scoreline had no reflection whatsoever on the balance of play. Despite our noses still in front, I suspect most Town fans would still grab a draw with both hands during the interval. Chesterfield looked to have scored a goal, had had all the chances, and Town were lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch. It's a funny old game.
Town spurned a chance to go 2-0 up in the first minute of extra time, Chesterfield clearing a close range North effort off the line. Would Town regret missing it?
Five minutes into the second half Phil Barnes was beaten and the Chesterfield fans behind the goal rose to celebrate a certain goal, but the ball crashed off the post. Another huge slice of luck.
With Chesterfield pushing forward and the wind now in Town's favour Town had the chance to counterattack and went close on 56 when an excellent turn and shot by North was tipped round the post by Roche.
Chesterfield missed two good chances when they headed over on 58 and then on 64 when Barnes flapped at the ball it broke to the left back Robertson, who blasted over from a great position. Just after Fenton came on for Bennett, Town also nearly put the goal in their own net, Phil Barnes having to make a smart save on 72 minutes.
With Grimsby under unrelenting pressure Danny North's runs offered their best outlet and on 76 North chased a long ball into the box pursued by Downes. North was heading away from goal when Downes challenged him, and the Town player went down quickly in the box. The referee blew for a penalty which my initial reaction to (apart from joy) was that it looked a bit soft.
North took the penalty and ignored a bit of gamesmanship from Chesterfield's No. 2 who ruffled his hair as he was stepped up to take the kick. North confidently stroked the ball into the net, sending the 'keeper the wrong way. Everybody behind the goal was very careful not to quite invade the pitch.
Chesterfield by this stage looked beaten. As though events had got to them, they had started playing badly themselves, miscontrolling the ball and letting it go into touch several times. This of course was in addition to their profligate finishing. How they must have wished Jack Lester was playing.
Finally Chesterfield managed to get the ball into the net and prove there wasn't a curse on them. With the ball yet again bouncing around the Grimsby box like a pinball, it came out to Ward on the edge of the area, who blasted it into the net instead of high or wide. Game on.
Chesterfield piled forward with new hope for the last eight minutes, and their best chance was when Ward headed wide at the end of normal time. Town managed to endure four minutes of injury time, before the referee blew the final whistle to open the gates of paradise for a large away contingent.
It was an amazing victory not least because Grimsby had not played well. Barnes had a good game, but still made a few mistakes, the defence looked far from solid and Hird in particular frequently seemed out of position. Town could not get out of their own half for long periods and frequently gave the ball straight back to Chesterfield. Man of the Match Danny North's pace and determination up front won the game for Town, and his performance today was reminiscent of Martin Paterson last season for us.
Town now have recorded three straight wins in the league and need another 20 points for survival. On Tuesday they head to Stockport for a massive game in the JPT Trophy, ironically needing to play better than they have done in the last two victorious two away games if they are to get anything out of the game.
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