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The Green Shoots of Recovery
By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 20/03/2009 (Last updated: 21/03/2009)
SPRING begins on March 21st and with the changing of the seasons this year came the green shoots of recovery as Town steamrollered high-flying Gillingham at sunny Blundell Park. Goals from Akpro, Hegarty and a late debut strike by Conlon sent the Kent side back to their coach for a long journey home.
Unlike Chester last week where the ticket promotion was met with total indifference by the local townsfolk last week, a huge crowd took advantage of the opportunity to see Town for a fiver. The away fans were consigned to the part of the Osmond not normally used, and home fans even took up the prime seats behind the goal normally filled by away bums. That meant Town were attacking their own fans both halves. Can we do this every game?
Two players were making their debuts this afternoon, probably about the average in this crazy season! Experienced striker Barry Conlon started up front alongside Akpro and Peter Sweeney played in central midfield.
The two new players combined well in Town's first move of promise. Some great touches by Conlon led to a chance for Sweeney, but his strike went wide of the goal.
Town allowed Gillingham dangerman Simeon Jackson to get a shot on goal on 5 minutes, but he failed to connect with the ball properly and Henderson was able to intercept the ball to his left. Then Gillingham's Andy Barcham had two attempts on goal, the second being a scissor kick attempt that he didn't quite strike cleanly.
Following a scrappy period of play Town took the lead when Stockdale beat his man and crossed the ball, It eventually found it's way to Hegarty whose shot came off the post and Akpro was on hand to tap the ball in from close range.
Shortly after their goal Town had two free kicks in good positions, but failed to make the most of them.
The match was then enlivened by a male streaker, wearing a football shirt but naked from the waste down. After what seemed an age the stewards decided this was something they should be dealing with - or maybe they were delaying making a decision to see if the streaker was interfering with play. Eventually they captured the intruder and escorted him off down the tunnel to deep within the bowels of the Main Stand. He is not expected to be heard of again.
Town nearly added a second. Henlon hit a shot which was heading towards the top corner (of the stand) but Hegarty managed to intercept it and volleyed just wide. Sweeney then forced a good save out of Royce with a free kick.
It the dying seconds of the first half and long past the injury time allowed by the ref former Mariner Nicky Southall rounded off a period of Gillingham pressure with a shot straight at Henderson.
Half Time: Grimsby 1 Gillingham 0
It had been a solid performance by Town. They had been strong at the back and also managed to take one of the chances which had come their way. The natives were happy.
Town started strongly and Sweeney was unlucky to hit the post after a period of intense Town attack, Conlon then broke free, took about six touches to control the ball, but somehow managed to stay on his feet. Eventually he found himself facing the 'keeper but missed his chance of a debut goal by shooting straight at him.
Town were carving out the best chances and a great cross field ball by Akpro fell to Llewellyn whose deft touch set up Conlon, but who was then hauled down in the box but the referee waved play on. It looked a very good shout from where I was sat and the referee was made aware of my opinion and of many of those around me.
Town got the second their play deserved when Akpro found Hegarty on the edge of the box. A couple of touches from the Town winger saw him create the space for a shot which he dispatched past Royce to send the Pontoon delirious.
Gillingham had quite a bit of possession but Henderson commanded his box very well and Town's defence were well on top. As against Lincoln, Town looked dangerous on the break once they had a two goal lead.
Henderson did have to make one save of note in the second half though, tipping a shot by Dennis Oli around the post for a corner.
Town added their third in injury time when Conlon found himself unmarked at close range in the box in injury time and had a simple chance to score his debut goal.
Grimsby were the better side and overall it was probably a better performance than the Lincoln game. Town were outstanding at the back, with Henderson commanding his area expertly, and Bennett and Atkinson dealing well with Gillingham's supposedly potent attack. Sweeney and Llewellyn looked the pick of the midfielders, and up front man of the match Akpro was always dangerous. The Frenchman can hold the ball up, pass and score goals. Conlon too was a threat and with him and Akpro Town looked a much stronger side then they were in the last three away games.
After a well deserved rest Grimsby now have another home game against Aldershot next week. That simply is yet another must win game, with Chester and Luton both picking up points this weekend. For the moment though the Mariners are outside of the bottom two, which alone is a huge psychological boost for everyone who has place in their heart from GTFC.
This site is by the fans, for the fans, and we will consider articles on any subject relating to the Mariners whether it be related to current news, a nostalgic look back in the past, a story about a player, a game or games in the past, something about Blundell Park or football in general. Click here to submit your article!
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