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Light at the end of it?
Light at the end of it?

A Game of Two Halves - Part 2

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 02/11/2008

TOWN came out on the attack and won two corners. Hegarty’s crosses were good but the Darlington defence stood firm. On 49 minutes, North had a chance but wasted it by trying to switch to his right foot. This was a promising start from Town.

On 51 minutes, Town won a free kick on 25 yards, which resulted in another one just outside the box after a hand ball was awarded. Newey messed it up. At this point Town had had 10 minutes of sustained attacking - did Mr Newell say something, I wonder?

Town were competing and now were winning the ball to set up their attacks. On 61 minutes, Till had a half chance and turned, but his fierce shot went over the bar. North was working hard up front and the overall performance was now energetic but it was hard not to think that Darlington were going to weather the storm and all this endeavour was going to lead to nothing.

Then on 71 minutes, a cross from the left fell to Kalala, who trapped the ball 25 yards out and drilled an unstoppable low shot into the left corner. Town 1, Darlington 2.

A minute later, Bore came on for Jamie Clarke to give Town a further attacking option. Town were fighting to get an equaliser. It defies belief that they had to be told to fight for possession. This was not the same team we saw in the first half.

The commitment was better, the passing was good, the Darlington midfield and defence were being stretched, and there was some good football. Kalala was providing the inspiration, but it wasn't about one player. Town were working for each other as a team. On 86 minutes Darlington had a chance, but the header went over. This was their first chance of the half. Town continued to push forward but in the end, their superiority came to nothing and they ran out of time.

Final score: Grimsby Town 1, Darlington 2.

Full-time verdict. Football is a funny game. Town had just lost but the mood on leaving the ground was good-humoured and optimistic. Those traumatised by the defeat and performance at Dagenham and Redbridge would have had their suffering eased. In the second half, Town played well. There was width, steely determination and at times silky ball play, notably from the Man of the Match Kalala. Players like Clarke and Hegarty, if not 100%, showed potential. Stockdale was reliable. Till showed enterprise and skill. Town’s defence looked much stronger with the introduction of Atkinson at the expense of the hapless Heywood. Mr. Newell deserves credit for his substitutions and half-time motivation. Of course there are problems. Newey’s distribution was shocking, even taking account of the windy conditions. For all North’s endeavour and effort, he is too lightweight to be on his own up front. We need another Gary Jones type player who can hold the ball and provide strength and options.

This was a game of two halves. There is hope. After the second period, the extreme cold weather somehow seemed warmer. A victory now seems possible. Even the darkest winter passes away ...

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