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Watchin the Ships Go In
Watchin the Ships Go In

Foiled By The Mac Attack

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 27/04/2008

"I don’t like football" declared my 13-year-old daughter Revis earlier this year. Pedants could argue that there is no danger of seeing any football when Grimsby Town play, particularly given the recent performances, but that wasn’t her point.

The game which led to this early life crisis was Dagenham & Redbridge away. 0 - 0. A valuable away point. A new ground to visit. Not too far for us to go to get there. A new adventure. That’s one interpretation. Hers: it took ages to get there on the train and tube. It was cold, windy and wet. We had to avoid puddles in the unlaid car park. The game was without incident and terminally boring. Apart from that jolly at Wembley, we haven’t been since. The advertising hoarding I saw today for the Grimsby Telegraph was revealing in its headline: "Sadistic Torture - 4 jailed". Taking children to football matches clearly has dire consequences. I can’t say I haven’t been warned.

It’s home to Peterborough United today. Never mind the children, what am I doing here? We’ve lost the last six games, there’s nothing to play for and the prospect is of total rubbish. We have reached that period of the season where it’s meaningless and we’re just losing every game. My friend Terry was keen to go. Peterborough have been successful this season and that’s his team. He called me to say he was being picked up so we could meet at the station. There was no going back. I knew there was no chance of Town providing a pick up. Abject nothingness is their gift. On many occasions Terry and I have shared about our experiences of sporting struggle, but now his glass is half full: "we’re like Milton Keynes, we don’t get going until the second half". It would be nice if Town could get going in any half. I suggested that we could at least see the ships from the vantage point of the Carlsberg Upper. "Yes, but will there be 18 quid’s worth of ships", he responded, noting my concern that any expectation of getting any value from the football was probably entering the sphere of fantasy. We must be here for something.

It was a glorious day. After the all important and wonderful fish and chips, a couple of pints and a nice walk, it was time to face the music. We arrived at the ground. The atmosphere was funereal away from the Peterborough fans partying behind the goal. The tide was out - oh, dear.

First Half. Town lined up in 4 - 5 - 1 formation: Barnes - Bennett, Fenton, Atkinson, Newey - Bore, Bolland, Clarke, Boshell, Toner - Jarman.

Town had the first opportunity on 2 minutes when Boshell was fouled. Toner crossed to the new look shaven-headed Tough Guy Fenton whose header went straight to the goalkeeper. Peterborough won a corner on 5 after a worked move, before Newey, Bore and Jarman threaded passes through to take Town forward, but to no avail. On 9, Boshell lost track of the ball, allowing Boyd to create a chance for Mackail-Smith, who should have done better than to blast over. Toner then showed good skill on the left but his cross came to nothing, as the lightweight Bore was bundled off the ball.

On 14, Peterborough won a free kick in the corner which was curled straight to Barnes. His clearance ran up the middle, and Jarman fought to get possession, but the goalkeeper mopped up. Peterborough were working the ball up the field neatly, and were getting shots in which Town’s defenders were blocking. Toner teed up a shot which went over, then on 21 Bolland broke away and Bore won a corner with his cross. The game stopped on 24 for attention to Jarman, who got hit in the face by the ball, an occupational hazard. The story so far was of poor passing and a lack of urgency by both sides. In the distance, an empty cargo ship rolled serenely by.

On 27, Jarman and Bolland pounced on a poor pass by Westwood but Hyde cleared up for Peterborough. Then on 32, Newton slipped the ball across to the left, Williams glided into the box, beat Bennett and passed to McLean who blasted the ball in low from 6 yards. Grimsby 0, Peterborough 1. This reflected the state of play. Peterborough threatened to do this and were playing the better football. Town were only shooting from distance.

Worryingly, the effect of the goal on the Town players was noticeable. They hung back, looking resigned and defeated. Their body language said everything. Peterborough on the other hand were playing with confidence and were creating moves with ease, winning three corners in a row on 35. Town’s passing was getting nowhere, and moves were breaking down in their own half, as on 38, when McLean gathered a misplaced pass. The ball was slotted to Mackail-Smith who again blasted over.

The ball was given away again on 39. Keates forced a great save from Barnes who tipped over. North came on for Boshell, but Peterborough continued to press. It was embarrassing. Town didn’t look as if they could contain the attacks, which were more and more frequent. North was given a chance to break but had no support, and Newey floated the ball over to Bore, who was hacked down. The free kick led to a corner for Town, which went too far. Williams crossed at the Town end, resulting in a mix-up and a Peterborough corner, and a curled shot. The half-time whistle blew. Grimsby Town 0, Peterborough United 1.

Half time verdict. Town played with no confidence, purpose and at times skill. The only noteworthy features were Bolland’s work rate and Jarman’s aggression. Peterborough were running the show. Meanwhile, my mate Andy Humberstone, who was being treated to an Executive experience today, came over to have a chat. Seemingly the quaffing of wine and consumption of prawn cocktails were not enough to nullify the ghastly fare on offer on the pitch. We could only look forward to something in the second half. So far there were few scraps of comfort.

The report continues in the Second Half

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