League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Bradford Sink Town
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY came back from deepest Yorkshire empty handed this afternoon, ending their unbeaten run in 2009. A first half sending off for Rob Atkinson was the turning point in the game, with Grimsby thereafter being subjected to intense pressure before City's late goals won it for the Bantams.
With events in North East Lincolnshire unusually on the front pages on this morning's national newspapers, could the town's football team go some way to at least getting a creditable mention towards the back of the Sunday editions?
Akpro started the game after passing a late fitness test which meant that Mike Newell reverted to the side which had beaten both Wycombe and Rotherham so impressively earlier this month. This meant there were only three players starting with a squad number in the range 1 to 11 and one of those was Adam Proudlock who has inherited the squad number of Grimsby's erstwhile No.9 Martin Butler.
Hundreds of Grimsby fans arrived within a few minutes of the kick off, which caused a huge problem for the stewards who had to free up extra seating to accommodate them all. The match kicked off with some fans still coming into the stadium and others trying in desperation to find a seat.
Bradford began the game in the manner in which most of it was to unfold, striker Peter Thorne's glancing header going just wide of the Grimsby goal.
City looked to have taken the lead on 15 minutes when a mad goalmouth scramble ensued after a header by Thorne. The ball looked to have been very close to crossing the line, but two Town defenders and Phil Barnes between them managed to clear the ball with various parts of their anatomy.
With City already having most of the play, Grimsby's chances of getting anything from the game were severely lengthened when Atkinson was sent off. Atkinson was the last defender when Michael Boulding was about to skip past Town's centre back after being put through clear on goal. Atkinson stupidly hauled the former Mariner back with both hands and flung Boulding to the ground. The tackle was so bad it would have been a foul in Rugby. The referee had no choice but to send Atkinson off, and only token protests were registered with the official.
From the ensuing free kick Phil Barnes made an excellent save with his feet. Akpro then fouled a City player within seconds on the edge of the box, and Barnes had to make a second brilliant save and grasped the ball at the second attempt. It was clearly going to be a long day!
Jar man then gave the ball away and City swarmed forward only for Jones to see his shot ricochet off the post with Barnes rooted on his spot.
Jar man's mistake must have prompted Mike Newell to take him off, for within seconds Town's right winger was sacrificed for a extra defender, (former?) club captain Heywood.
It was to prove a costly mistake by Mike Newell for shortly Akpro was signaling to the bench that he had to come off with an injury and on in his place came Peter Bore.
Town survived until half time but had Phil Barnes to thank for a couple of excellent saves, one from point blank range.
The second half was to follow a predictable pattern with Bradford having the lion's share of the play and Grimsby's only threat being the occasional break and one or two ensuing free kicks and corners - and of course Ryan Bennett's trademark long throws.
Grimsby had Phil Barnes to thank for keeping them in the game well into the second half. Phil Barnes made at least four tremendous save to keep the score 0-0, and Ryan Bennett made one clearance off the line. At the other end Grimsby had no cutting edge with Peter Bore not combining as effectively with Proudlock as Akpro had managed in the away game at Wycombe. Town frequently gave the ball straight back to Bradford and it was nearly all one way traffic.
Just when it got to the point where a few of us were beginning to think we might actually do it, Law finally got the ball on the edge of the box and fired a stop which Barnes got close to, but the shot was too powerful for Town's 'keeper to stop.
Grimsby managed to create a bit of excitement in the dying minutes and on 88 from a long throw-in Elliot had their best chance when he stuck out a foot to a ball which had come into the box, only to see it loop over not only the 'keeper but also the goal.
Grimsby had defended stoutly under the circumstances with Bennett and Barnes outstanding, but the sending off effectively decided the game. Hopefully it won't decide the next three as well with Atkinson almost certain to miss them all through suspension and Heywood likely to deputise in his absence.
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