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Match Report: vs Chesterfield
By: Bradley King
Date: 09/02/2008 (Last updated: 03/03/2008)
AN absolute stunner of a game at Blundell Park ended with Grimsby Town extending their unbeaten run to ten games as they emerged victorious in a 4-2 triumph over promotion chasers Chesterfield.
The result closes the gap between The Mariners and the teams above them, lifting the club closer to the top seven- a feat which would have been laughed off if suggested earlier in the season during Town‘s flirtation with the relegation zone.
Town made just one change from the side that took a point from Meadow Lane last weekend, with Tom Newey replacing young Ryan Bennett after shaking off the leg injury which ruled him out of the trip to Nottingham. Peter Bore- rumoured to have impressed Alan Buckley with his recent performances in training- was named among the substitutes along with the fit-again Paul Bolland.
Chesterfield travelled east on the back of an incompetent run of games, the latest of which was a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Chester. Surprisingly to some Town fans, striker Jamie Ward was only named as a substitute despite causing Town some problems in the corresponding fixtures earlier in the season. Former BP favourite Jack Lester led the line for The Spireites.
And indeed prior to kick-off, Lester received a rapturous round of applause from the majority of the crowd.
Town attacked the Osmond end in the first half, but Chesterfield had the first effort of the match with a half chance for Brendan Moloney, whose 20 yard attempt didn’t force ‘keeper Phil Barnes into action.
The first chance for the Mariners came when a slip from Alan O’Hare let in Sam Hird. With the Chesterfield defence scuttling to close him down, Hird fired the ball goalwards. With the goalkeeper Barry Roche beaten, the ball cannoned back off the right hand post and away.
The opening fifteen minutes seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game, with Town playing some scintillating football, with Clarke and Boshell at the centre of most of it.
And the former almost broke the deadlock on ten minutes when League Two Player of the Month Danny North wriggled free on the left of the penalty area, pulling back for the onrushing Clarke, but his shot was thwarted by Roche.
Persistence paid off however when a long punt forward from the Mariners defence was enthusiastically chased by Danny North, who managed to nip the ball past Roche before being brought down by the former Forest man. Referee Mr Russell had no hesitation in pointing towards the spot, but begged to differ with the majority of the crowd, choosing only to caution Roche.
Like at Saltergate, Town had been awarded a penalty but this time it was not North who was to take it. Giving Town the lead in an assured manner was Danny BOSHELL - who gave Roache the eyes and sent the ex-Nottingham Forest keeper the wrong way.
Chesterfield were not being allowed any time on the ball, with Town defending from the front through the likes of North and Till. After winning another corner, Fenton rose impeccably above the defence, but headed the ball forcefully into the ground and over the bar.
After half an hour, Town were two up. A ball into the heart of the Chesterfield defence caused a misunderstanding between Kevin Gray and Barry Roche. Roche had come to collect the ball but Gray headed it back towards his own goal. With the ball about to roll into the empty net, NORTH pounced in true poachers style to tuck away his easiest goal of the season.
Before long, Barnes was forced into action, making a fairly comfortable save from Chesterfield striker Adam Smith.
Chesterfield then enjoyed their best spell of the half as it neared it’s conclusion. During this, a cross from the Chesterfield left flank was allowed to bounce in the Town area and Barnes, rooted to his line, was lucky to see Kovacs fail to convert it.
Soon after, the half time whistle blew on a frighteningly efficient first half from The Mariners. However, the job was not done and Chesterfield were certain to have Town on the back foot for long periods of the second half, as well as having a strong looking bench to turn to.
One such replacement was introduced immediately for the second half. Former Bournemouth target man Steve Fletcher replaced left back Alan O’Hare, to create a three pronged attack.
Nevertheless, Town continued to have the upper hand early in the second period. Peter Till was causing no end of problems as a floating striker off Danny North, and the middle three were linking very well together. Even James Hunt, who had underperformed in recent weeks, was functioning marvellously as the holding midfielder.
Town were soon three up and cruising. Peter Till made another dash down the right flank, finding HEGARTY unmarked at the back stick. He connected well with the ball, dispatching it into the bottom left corner to put Town into an ostensibly unassailable position.
Jamie Ward and Kevin Cooper were instantly chucked into the deep end by Spireites boss Lee Richardson who had now made his full quota of three substitutes.
Peter Till then broke away for Town, looking to put the final nail in the coffin. He found Danny Boshell on his right who could only fire narrowly wide of the left post.
Then, out of nowhere, Chesterfield equalised. A cross from Jamie Ward eventually dropped to fellow replacement Kevin COOPER. His shot squirmed through Barnes’ legs to provide a lifeline for Chesterfield.
After a subsequent Chesterfield attack ended with the ball in Barnes’ hands, he made what could have been a very costly error. Trying to find Hird on the right flank, he threw the ball out without accurately assessing the situation. Jamie Ward intercepted the pass and shot towards the top corner, with Barnes having to repair his own error tipping clear for a corner.
Town were beginning to fall asleep in midfield and defence. The composed, refined performance of a silky first half was a far cry away. Jack Lester, kept quiet for eighty minutes managed to get a ball across goal to supply WARD with a simple tap in and Chesterfield were right back in the game.
Chesterfield were now flooding forward with what looked to be a Football Manager style 4-2-4 formation, and with the ball on the edge of the Town area, Jamie Ward struck the post when it looked like the comeback was completed.
Town came away with the ball, looking to finish things off on the break. Danny Boshell’s diagonal pass found substitute Gary Jones. With a sense of déjà vu for goalkeeper Roche, he connected with the striker’s feet and the referee awarded another penalty. Roche seemed resigned to being sent off but bizarrely the referee decided not to punish him any further. BOSHELL stepped up again and delicately stroked the ball down the middle of the goal to secure the three points.
It was a virtuoso performance in attack and in possession from Town particularly in the first half, but the Mariners were lucky to escape their lack of concentration which was present in the second half. Next up for Town is a trip to Macclesfield on Tuesday and an excellent opportunity to extend this fantastic run of results.
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