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Grimsby 1 Brentford 2
By: Bradley King
A shocking second half performance from The Mariners gave visitors Brentford maximum points from this afternoon’s game, striking another blow to Town's flirtation with the top seven.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, Town couldn't take their chances and individual mistakes were pounced on by The Bees in the second period.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 system, with Phil Barnes’s goal being protected by the quartet of Newey, Bennett, Fenton and Clarke. Incidentally, Newey regained the captains armband after Barnes had it for Saturday’s win in Mansfield. Peter Till reverted to his more orthodox right wing position, with the in-form Nick Hegarty on the left. Boshell and Hunt were chosen in the middle. Martin Butler looked to keep up his recent upsurge in form, while Danny North started despite question marks hovering over his fitness caused by a nasty bout of tendonitis.
Brentford looked to have a relatively inexperienced side on paper, with few familiar faces on their books. Ricky Shakes and Craig Pead have been knocking around the bottom division for a few years, while Alan Connell and Glenn Poole had the ability to cause problems up top.
As usual, the first ten minutes of the match were a tedious affair, with both sides adjusting to the conditions.
With almost twenty minutes gone, Town took the lead. Nick Hegarty’s corner could only be cleared straight back to him. The resulting magnificent cross, one of many throughout the game, found the run of NORTH towards the near post, who headed the ball into the back of the net to give Grimsby a deserved lead.
Brentford went straight up field and almost levelled the game when a long throw from Pead found the lanky Nathan Elder, whose low strike was gathered by Barnes.
Danny North then had two fine chances to put the game beyond Brentford, the latter being the best opportunity. A slip from a Brentford defender let Peter Till in on the right hand side, but he couldn't beat the goalkeeper, who palmed the ball into the path of North. With the goal at his mercy, North slipped, the ball ricocheting off his body and out of harm's way.
However, at the other end, Connell and Elder were combining well and threatening Town with the counter attack. Both had opportunities to equalise, but didn't force Barnes into action.
With ten minutes of the half left, Glenn Poole found himself free in the penalty box to the right hand side of the goal. Deciding to shoot from a tight angle, the ball flew wide of Barnes's right post, to the relief of the static Town backline.
At half time, Town looked comfortable and could have been three or four in front. But they weren't and these missed opportunities were to prove costly.
The second half kicked off to the background noise of a police helicopter, which seemed to hover peculiarly closely to Blundell Park in the same position for the first ten minutes of the second half. Any potential Mariners' supporting cheapskate pilot wouldn't have been impressed as Town started atrociously, with misplaced passes widespread in the opening stages. They were made to pay when a Pead cross from the right found CONNELL who out jumped Ryan Bennett to nod past the daydreaming Barnes to level the game.
Buckley decided to act quickly and sent on Gary Jones and the returning Ciaran Toner for North and the impressive Hunt.
On the hour mark, Tom Newey floated a free kick into the Brentford area. The panicky away defence hesitated, causing mayhem in the area. The ball fell to Ryan Bennett ten yards from goal who, with the goal at his mercy, blazed it over the bar.
With ten minutes to go, Brentford’s comeback was complete. After a Town corner was cleared, Toner tried to give the ball to Clarke who was wrong footed. Connell picked up on the ball and found Elder, the ball ending up with substitute Wayne BROWN on the right hand side. Faced with a frantic and desperate Town defence, scrambling for position, he fired low and hard past Barnes to give Brentford all three points.
It seemed that some Town players had one eye, or in some cases two, on next weekend. Some of these may have missed an opportunity to play their way into Buckley’s starting eleven...
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