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Town Lose to Millers
By: Bradley King
A drab affair saw the Mariners disappoint once again today, as they stumbled to a 1-0 defeat to Rotherham United at Blundell Park .
Hopes of the play-offs had faded into the distance over the past few weeks for both teams, but the two sides staged two contrasting performances - Rotherham looking the sharper, more ambitious outfit when compared to the lacklustre Town.
Grimsby began the game with the now familiar 5-3-2 formation with Bennett, Fenton and Newey protecting Phil Barnes’s goal. Nick Hegarty and Peter Bore gave the wing-back positions a youthful feel, while Boshell, Toner and Clarke lined up in central midfield. The energetic Peter Till partnered Martin Butler in the front line. Injuries to Bolland, Atkinson, North and Hunt meant that there were places on the bench for Alan Buckley to experiment with - youth team graduates Matthew Bird and Grant Normington were the lucky recipients.
On paper, Town’s opponents looked short of class, although the likes of former Sheffield Wednesday centre half Graham Coughlan and ex-Hull defender Marc Joseph were sure to provide stability at the back.
The Mariners attacked the Pontoon in the first half, but struggled to put passages of possession together; Rotherham looking the more composed on the ball.
On ten minutes, Peter Till made a typical burst down the right wing and got to the by-line, pulling the ball back for Jamie Clarke. However, Clarke was surrounded by opposition defenders and the ball was cleared to safety.
Despite Rotherham dominating play, neither side was creating any clear cut chances which was not contributing to the entertainment of the game for the 3,583 souls that opted for the relatively meaningless game of football to take up their Saturday afternoon. The family in front of me directed their attention towards pigeons on the pitch. It was that bad.
Peter Till looked awake enough as he set off down the left flank this time before cutting inside onto his preferred right foot, but blazing high and wide from twenty yards.
Then a goal. A punt over the top from The Millers didn't look to be able to trouble the Town defence, but Ryan Bennett’s header back towards Barnes was weak, with Rotherham’s TAYLOR sneaking in between defender and ‘keeper to slide the ball past Barnes and off both posts before it rolled into the back of the net to give the visitors a deserved lead.
The half time whistle followed soon after, as Town continued to struggle to find the remedy for their Wembley hangover. True, several key players were missing for the home side, but the poor standard of basic play in the majority of players would have displeased Buckley.
Another young player was introduced at the beginning of the second period, with Ciaran Toner being replaced by the rapid Andy Taylor who scored his fifth goal of the season last weekend at Rochdale.
In a similar manner to the first half, there were very few incidents to report. Danny Boshell received an early booking for a rash challenge on the halfway line, before both Hegarty and Bore wasted good positions with poor deliveries.
Danny Harrison was then booked for an over-enthusiastic tackle on Boshell, after protests from the Town players.
Rotherham were lining up with every man behind the ball, setting Town the arduous challenge of trying to break them down. With this in mind, Buckley brought on Gary Jones for the disappointing Peter Bore with twenty minutes left, Town transforming to a 4-3-3 formation.
Shortly afterwards, Barnes was forced into action as a twenty yard drive from Holmes headed for the bottom right hand corner before being palmed away by the Mariners stopper.
Youngster Matthew Bird, who was invited to a trial with Manchester United earlier in the season, came on with ten minutes to go to replace Jamie Clarke - a change which was probably pre-meditated.
The final few minutes were played out without incident, with Town never threatening to test Andy Warrington in the Rotherham goal, Town’s season now waning into mundane mediocrity.
Man of the Match: One man stood out as a spark of life on a pitch full of lifeless bunch. Peter Till - he worked his socks off but couldn't do it on his own.
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