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Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Happy New Year!
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY caused one of the season's upsets in League Two, defeating leaders Wycombe Wanderers who had been unbeaten in their twelve games to date at Adams Park. A first half volley by Nathan Jarman and a tremendous team performance were enough to see Town pick up three precious and unexpected points.
300 or so grumbling Grimbarians gathered for the expected annual drubbing at Wycombe, against whom Town had their worst record of any football team in Grimsby's entire 130 year history. Conversation was made impossible by a raucous PA system which drowned out those who attempted to communicate by speech.
It was easy to forget that a new year had taken place since Grimsby had last played, that the Christmas jumpers had been through the washing cycle at least twice, and that Town had three new players - albeit all loanees - making their debut. Also making debuts of sorts were Adam Proudlock and Rob Atkinson, who had nailed their colours to the Mariners for the next couple of years after upgrading their loan contracts to a permanent one.
Town lined up as follows:
Widdowson Atkinson Bennett Clarke
Elliot Sinclair Kalala Jarman
So other than Phil Barnes in goal Grimsby had now changed every single player from any of the teams which started the first four games of the campaign! What's more we had two players with squad numbers in the thirties, a sign of the sheer numbers of players who have passed through Blundell Park this season - and several numbers have been used more than once already.
Grimsby started well and immediately Akpro's pace caused problems for the Wycombe defence. On four minutes Jarman played a good ball through to the Frenchman, who flicked it first time just wide of the Wycombe goal.
On 10 minutes Town were fortunate not to score an own goal. Ryan Bennett got his foot to a ball which was whipped into the box, and mishit the shot just a few feet out from the goal. It could have gone anywhere, but luckily for Grimsby went wide of the goal.
Dangerman Akpro finally allowed Town to take the lead, when a long ball to Proudlock was whipped superbly to Jarman on the edge of the box, who volleyed it past Shearer to make the score 1-0 and send the away contingent into ecstasy - until they saw there was over an hour left!
Towards the end of first half Wycombe finally came into the game more. Mcleish crossed and Harrold somehow headed wide from point blank.
Three minutes of injury time was played as a result of an injury to a Wycombe defender, who was substituted early in the half.
Grimsby had played without fear and taken the game to Wycombe, deservedly going in in front. All three players had fitted in well, with Widdowson at left back looking the pick of them. Everything seemed to go through Kalala in midfield, whose distribution was excellent and with Proudlock and Akpro up front a real handful for Wycombe's defence, things looked promising for the second half. Except of course Town had a habit of not hanging onto leads - or at least they had done back in the bad old days of 2008.
Wycombe made a substitution at half time, and it was the Chairboys who had the first chance of the second half. Ex-Mariner Harrold fought well to win the ball close to the goal line, then shot wide from close range at a narrow angle.
Town then had a sustained period of pressure after a defensive mix-up, with at one stage the ball ricocheting around the Wycombe penalty area and being cleared off the line twice.
Town had started to retreat though into their shells and had started to defend for long periods. Wycombe went close through McCleish, who once again fired wide from close range.
Akpro could have won the game for Town when he managed to nip in and rob the ball close to the Wycombe 'keeper, but he decided to shoot from a narrow angle, ignoring the unmarked Proudlock in the box.
Town hung on to record a highly unpredictable win. Frustratingly all three wins have been against the top sides, which is good news because we have to play Rotherham and Bradford next!
At the end of the game the players and fans were delighted and Akpro even came up and shook the hands of several supporters in the away end!
Wycombe had had their chances but Grimsby were the better team on the day and deserved their win. All three new signings fitted in and contributed to the performance. But the stars of the show were Phil Barnes, who commanded his area superbly and hardly put a limb wrong all afternoon. In midfield Kalala was excellent, constantly feeding good balls to the forwards, and up front Akpro is looking better with every game. Man of the Match could go to any of those three, but Kalala shaded it for me.
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