Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Town Slump to Posh Defeat
By: Bradley King
EVEN novelty hats couldn't perk up a downcast Blundell Park crowd today, after The Mariners slumped to a 4-1 defeat against promoted Peterborough United in their 23rd and final home league game of the season.
Town began with a formation that saw them start just one man up front in the form of the Nathan Jarman. Phil Barnes - one of the favourite’s for Grimsby’s player of the season- continued in goal. Rob Atkinson was making his final home start in his loan spell for the Mariners and was joined by Tom Newey, Ryan Bennett and Nick Fenton - who sported a new shaven head look, making him look a bit like Rob Jones from a long way off. If you squint maybe. Maybe just wishful thinking. The midfield quintet included the idle Peter Bore and the workman like Paul Bolland. Lining up alongside them were Jamie Clarke, Danny Boshell and Ciaran Toner, with James Hunt and Peter Till out injured. Nathan Jarman would have been looking to put in a solid performance to plant himself firmly into Alan Buckley’s plans for next season.
Peterborough’s starting eleven oozed class thanks to the financial input from their moneybags chairman Darragh MacAnthony. Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean were sure to be a handful for Town’s defence, while George Boyd’s trickery had attracted much interest from clubs in higher divisions, most notably Crystal Palace. Micah Hyde was certain to provide stability in the centre of the Posh midfield, drawing on his prior experience with Watford.
Justin Whittle took to the field just before kick off, to a rapturous welcome from the home support. It was announced earlier in the week that Whittle would be released at the end of the season after several seasons of dedicated service to the club.
Town attacked the Osmond End for the first forty five, and an early Ciaran Toner free-kick found Nick Fenton, but his tame header was easily collected by Joe Lewis in the Peterborough goal.
Peterborough’s first chance came after sloppy play from Town’s midfield allowed Chris Whelpdale to square for Mackail-Smith, but he could only blaze over from the edge of the box.
The Posh had had the better of the early exchanges overall, but Nathan Jarman had begun well, working hard and firing a shot goal wards, which Lewis claimed. Many supporters would have preferred to have a second striker alongside Jarman, especially at home, but Buckley obviously disagreed.
Cypriot international Tom Williams then received the ball down the left wing, and dribbled to the byline. Bore tracked back, but committed himself to any potential cross that Williams was to despatch. Williams eased past Bore, teeing up MCLEAN to give Peterborough the lead.
The impetus now lay firmly with Peterborough, as they piled on the pressure, winning three consecutive corners which Town struggled to deal with. Mackail-Smith then unleashed a mighty striker, but Barnes pushed it over the bar for another corner kick.
Before it was taken, Buckley decided to throw on a partner for Jarman. Danny Boshell was sacrificed as Danny North came on. After the corner was cleared, Town broke, with North making a cheeky run down the left flank, but his cross evaded everyone.
Half time came with Town lucky to be just a goal behind. Peterborough had been organised, resilient and quick on the break with The Mariners finding them difficult to handle.
Both sides attacked the end where their own fans were situated in the second half, George Boyd beginning to show his flair with a few tasty stepovers on the left touchline enough to bamboozle Peter Bore, but his cross was claimed by Barnes.
Peterborough then doubled their lead- George Boyd’s lofted ball found Aaron MCLEAN who, though off-balance, finished superbly with the outside of his boot from just inside the box to give Peterborough what was surely an unassailable lead.
Soon after, Peterborough won a free kick just outside the Town penalty area. Dean Keates took it, and almost gave the away side a three goal advantage, the ball striking the crossbar.
Alan Buckley then ended the disappointing pair of Bore and Toner’s afternoons early when he replaced them with Butler and Hegarty on 54 minutes. Town were now playing a 3-4-3-cum-4-3-3 system with Ryan Bennett playing right wing or maybe right back. I'm not really sure where he was playing.
Town then won a free kick on the right. Newey took it and found Nick Fenton at the far post whose header back across goal found North. North’s header though was meek and comfortable for Lewis.
Town then halved the deficit when a Ryan Bennett delivery found substitute Martin BUTLER who fired past Lewis to give the home side a glimmer of hope.
Peterborough responded well, Adam Newton’s 20 yard drive brilliantly saved to his left by Phil Barnes. Just after, MACKAIL-SMITH sealed things, poking past Barnes after nipping inside Ryan Bennett.
With the game won, Peterborough began to showboat and were perhaps a little complacent as they conceded a free kick twenty five yards from their own goal. Jamie Clarke took it, but his bending shot cannoned back off the crossbar and away from danger.
Adam RENDLE was introduced for The Posh with little time remaining, and there was still time for his drive to beat Barnes and make it 4-1 to the away team.
Town were flat throughout the game and didn't get out of second gear at any point. Changes certainly need to be made in the off season, some would argue extensive ones are required in both the playing and backroom staff. Time will tell, but Town have now lost seven games on the bounce. If January had not been such a good month for Town, they could have well been embroiled in a squeaky bum scenario next weekend.
Man of the Match- Phil Barnes made a few decent saves and looked assured. Martin Butler was impressive when he came on, linking well with his fellow frontmen. But Nathan JARMAN takes the award for being the only player to work his socks off for the full ninety minutes.
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