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Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
By: Rob Sedgwick
HOPES of a resurgence following Grimsby's recent two match unbeaten run were dashed following a poor display against Notts County at Blundell Park. A first half goal by County dangerman Facey was enough to win the game for the Magpies, who were the better of two poor teams on the day.
A bumper Christmas crowd, swelled by exiles returning for the Christmas season, and an improbable 400+ away fans (most of whom came in camouflage) gave Blundell Park an unfamiliar full feeling. As ever at this time of year many of the crowd were resplendent in their new Christmas jumpers, shirts and hats.
Grimsby made just one enforced change, midfielder Liam Trotter having left the club following his loan spell from Ipswich, and in stepped Danny Boshell to fill his shoes.
Town made a nervous start and Barnes in particular was guilty of some terrible kicks early in the game.
However Grimsby soon grew in confidence with Jean Louis prominent, but sadly often in an offside position. After 12 minutes he trapped the ball superbly on his chest but was hacked down. Eight minutes later he crossed the ball to Proudlock who looked certain to score but somehow managed to head to ball down at to the feet of the County 'keeper who denied him with a point blank save,
Within a minute County missed a golden opportunity themselves. The Town defence was stretched and the ball came to the unmarked Facey in front of goal. All he had to do is place it either side of Barnes. Instead he chose to try and smash the ball as hard as he could, only managing to sky it high over the Pontoon to the derision of the fans in it.
Until this point County looked the lesser of the two sides, but the Facey shot seem to spur them on and have the opposite effect on Town who were filled with doubt and lacking in ideas.
County's goal culminated a great piece of teamwork. A sequence of four or five quick passes split Town's defence and the ball once more ended up with Facey, who this time just side footed the ball past Barnes to make the score 1-0.
A further blow came for Town just before half time when right back Robbie Stockdale had to come off. Peter Bore was chosen by Mike Newell as his replacement, rather than Jamie Clarke dropping back and Bore going to the right side of midfield.
Early in the second half the ball was played through to Proudlock which split the County defence. Proudlock controlled the ball so well with his arm it would have got applause from a basketball crowd, but incredibly it went unnoticed by the officials. As though embarrassed by his good luck Proudlock decided to launch the ball straight at the 'keeper from distance, who pawed it away for a corner.
Town pressed forward for an equaliser and carved out a perfect opportunity when Hegarty beat his man and delivered a perfect cross to Akpro on the near post. Unfortunately his shot from a very dangerous position was unbelievably inept and it dribbled into the arms of the 'keeper. At this stage it should have been 2-2 had all the "tap-ins" been converted. Instead Town had missed both theirs and could consider themselves still fortunate to be in the game at 0-1.
With the crowd frustrated, Grimsby seemed bereft of ideas and it was County who probably came closest to scoring. On 72 minutes a County cross fell to Facey just in front of goal, who looked offside but Barnes kept the Mariners in the game with a good save at his feet. On another day Facey could have had a hat trick.
Jarman and Llewellyn came on for the last few minutes but Grimsby failed to make the most of a string of promising free kicks, corners and long throw-ins.
The match petered out to finish 0-1.
Town can take heart from the fact that they generated enough good chances to get something out of the game. However when things didn't go their way a malaise seemed to creep over them which gave the impression that defeat was inevitable. Some clubs go a goal down, or even two, like Aldershot like week, and still retain the relief that they can win the game. We seem to lack confidence as soon as the game begins to turn against us.
Akpro once more resembled one of Brian Laws's "unpolished diamonds". He displays some good touches, covers a lot of ground, and always wants the ball. On the minus side he doesn't look like a regular goal scorer and didn't link up with Proudlock as effectively as in the last two games. He probably needs an extended run in the side, but we can't afford to give anyone too much time in the predicament we are in.
Trotter was sorely missed in midfield and it would be wonderful to see him return in January having a permanent contract with Town.
Man of the Match was Nick Hegarty who looked the best Grimsby player on the pitch, working hard and putting a few good balls into the box.
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