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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY ended their four match losing sequence in spectacular fashion, demolishing local rivals Lincoln City with four second half goals. Adam Proudlock walked away with the match ball after scoring three goals and his striker partner Jean Louis Akpro nabbed the other two.
With a heavy police presence throughout the area Grimsby was something of a war zone in the hours leading up to the match, Humberside police strategically positioned at key junctions and outside public houses, like Sadam Hussain's elite Republican Guard division.
The mood amongst the supporters seemed to be one of quiet determination. This was a match which Grimsby needed to win, and which they could win, but the crowd and the players would both have to be up to the task.
A substantial crowd by contemporary standard have assembled at Blundell Park, partly due to the call to arms made in various media outlets to Grimsby's fans to mobilise and support their team in their hour of need. Another factor was of course the local interest such an encounter always engenders and Lincoln probably filled about half the away end.
Town left Widdowson and Jar man on the bench and started with Elliot and Newey in their places. The bench therefore looked particularly strong for once with Forbes and Bore also named as substitutes.
Both teams created chances early in the game but just failed to find the target. Lincoln won an early free kick in a good position for a very harsh "ball to hand" decision early on, but Kovacs could not direct a close range header which he instead blasted over the bar.
A minute later Proudlock was put through but he failed control the ball and the chance was gone.
It was Lincoln's turn next for a good chance when Clarke volleyed high into the Pontoon from a corner. City then had a strong spell of pressure winning several corners and forcing Henderson to make a save from N'Guessan.
Hegarty was then completely skinned by N'Guessan, whose cross flashed across the face of goal with nobody at the far post to convert it. Town were living dangerously.
Grimsby too had their chances but Proudlock and Akpro again failed to make the most of good opportunities.
With the first half drawing to a close Town have a long spell of pressure with loads of balls played into the box and finally they managed to break the deadlock. Boshell lobbed yet another ball into the box, and this time it fell to Proudlock. The ex-Stockport striker delicately dinked the ball over Lincoln's keeper rather than blasting it as lesser players might have done. It was a true striker's goal, a quality finish from a master craftsman at this level.
A trademark JP shot from just outside the box whistled past the post in the dying embers of the first half, but Town and their supporters were delighted to go into the dressing room ahead. They had been in this position before, however, the question was could Grimsby manage to hang on to their lead this time.
If someone had watched the game today knowing nothing about football they might have deduced that the aim of the sport was to shout "handball" and persuade the man in green to award you a free kick of some form, for that is what both sets of fans did, and the referee duly obliged. The referee's decision in the opening minutes had set a precedent for the most optimistic of appeals.
The referee awarded a dubious handball decision in Town's favour, and two Lincoln players were booked (one for the offence and another for challenging it). The official then wasted at least two minutes lecturing various players, then decided to count ten places from the wall and reposition the ball, rather than the other way round. After much ado Boshell then took the free kick, only to be booked because the referee still wasn't ready (ironically when it was finally taken the ball was respotted in the correct position and everyone was stood where they had been about two minutes before the ref intervened).
The handball merry-go-round took another twist when the ref awarded a penalty against Newey after the ball struck him in the "chest" area. After pondering the decision for several seconds like an cricket umpire, the ref raised his hand in a theatrical manner towards the penalty spot, much to the contempt of three quarters of the ground.
N'Guessan stepped up to score the penalty and level the game. Here we go again I wager flashed through the mind of many a Town fan who have seen too many leads squandered this season.
Elliot limped off to be replaced by Widdowson, and the game was pretty even. Henderson kept Grimsby in the game with a header, but it was Grimsby who once again got their noses in front
Lincoln failed to clear a ball in their box, and it fell to Akpro close to goal but at a narrow angle. The Frenchman for once made the most of the chance and blasted the ball past Burch in front of the Pontoon.
Town fans hardly had the chance to get nervous for Grimsby almost immediately won a corner and once again poor defending allowed Proudlock to spin and blast the ball in from close range. Town were on cloud nine.
With Lincoln then throwing everyone forward Town broke again, and Hegarty played the perfect ball to Proudlock in front of goal. The Town striker controlled the ball superbly and placed it past Burch to claim his hat trick.
In added time Akpro added a fifth when he shrugged off a couple of challenges, somehow managed to stay on his feet, plus slot the ball past the hapless Burch. It was another brilliant finish.
Lincoln fans had long made their way out of Blundell Park when the final whistle went but this did not stop the Republican Guard surreally mobilising a helicopter to monitor the home fans making their way towards Cleethorpes and a night of celebration.
The scoreline undoubtedly flattered Grimsby but how many times this season has the boot been on the other foot. Both teams generated quite a few chances and it was Town who today took theirs. Man of the match was undoubtedly Proudlock. Both him and Akpro are good players when the ball is played to their feet and they can hold the ball up and allow Town to break quickly. What Proudlock showed today though is his predatory touch that true strikers have. So many Grimsby strikers over the years have not had it, and provided Proudlock stays fit it is very pleasing to see that once again we have a player who is capable of scoring on a regular basis.
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