Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
|We are Staying Up!|
Happily Ever After
By: Rob Sedgwick
TOWN are assured (baring miracles, famine and war) of a place in League Two next season, despite losing 2-1 at Bournemouth. Grimsby took a 1-0 lead into half time, but two sendings off by a fussy referee handed the game to the Cherries, who got the points they themselves needed to stay up.
Over 1000 Grimsby fans gathered on a warm, sunny day with a light sea breeze blowing off the nearby English Channel, to witness yet another game billed as the Most Important In The Club's History. Whoever won would be guaranteed to avoid the drop. Failure to win would mean relying on Chester to drop points or the whole process being rolled over to next week.
Mike Newell made just one change, bringing back Akpro from injury, replacing Proudlock alongside Barry Conlon. Adam Proudlock had to settle for a place on the bench,
Bournemouth started strongly, and Town had their backs to the wall for much of the game's opening period.
The fact that it was going to be a long day was soon apparent after the news spread around the ground that Chester were 1-0 up with a very early goal.
Town almost went a goal down when, under pressure, Ryan Bennett miskicked a clearance which looped up the air and Henderson failed to punch clear. The ball game to Pittman who struck the post from close range and then the same player blasted the rebound over.
A large crowd meant every time a Bournemouth player went down in the box there were cries for a penalty, and the game's importance meant everyone was on the referee's back from the off.
Town came close to taking a shock lead when from the first corner a mad scramble ensued and the ball was cleared off the line by a Bournemouth defender on the post.
Midway through the first half Danny Boshell was booked for kicking the ball away, a decision on which he can have no complaints.
Widdowson was then booked for an incident close to the manager's dugout. The referee initially did not blow but then appeared to react to the reaction from the Bournemouth dugout and eventually Widdowson was called over and booked for "elbowing". Ryan Bennett was also booked, despite seemingly only acting in his captain's role of mediation.
In a scrappy game Town took the lead against the run of play when Akpro crossed the ball to Conlon, who unselfishly headed the ball across the face of the goal to Jarman for a simple finish. Several Town fans invaded the pitch, and a couple were dragged off by the numerous police present who were itching for something to do.
With everyone thinking Town had taken a big step towards survival, their hopes were dashed when Boshell was booked for a second time, and sent off. He again can have no complaints though, making a reckless challenge right under the referee's nose, despite being on a yellow card.
Half Time: Bournemouth 0 Grimsby 1
Town had not played well but were a goal up. Should they bring on a defender and hold out for a win, or wait and see what happened with the current arrangement?
Mike Newell chose not to change anything at half time and it soon proved to be the wrong decision. Bournemouth attacked from the off, and Feeney was on hand to sidefoot in the ball after it had bounced off the cross bar from a shot by Hollands.
The equaliser was not the end of the world though as the news came through that Aldershot had taken the lead and it was now 2-1 to the Hampshire side.
The extra man gave Bournemouth the initiative and they seem to have lots of space on the wings to try and exploit. Town were not coping very well and Mike Newell brought on Hunt for Sweeney to try and shore things up in midfield. Hunt had to act as a third centre back much of the time as Bournemouth pressed forward for a winner, and he made several telling clearances.
All the Bournemouth pressure finally told on 80 minutes when local hero Fletcher riffled in a shot when the ball came to him on the edge of the box.
The match was becoming fairly meaningless for Town, with two goals now needed to ensure their own survival, but with Chester now drawing 2-2 it meant a very tense finale with nobody knowing what was happening at the other game.
The final insult came when the referee sent off Widdowson, who had already been booked, for a late challenge. It seemed a harsh decision, and Hegarty was also booked for complaining.
After four minutes of extra time, and probably about as many minutes waiting for the Chester result of 2-2 to be confirmed, Town fans could finally join their Bournemouth counterparts, many of whom had come on to the pitch, in celebrating. The battle had been lost, but the war was won.
Man of the match was between Ryan Bennett and Rob Atkinson. With Town defending for long periods both worked tirelessly and Henderson in goal did not have that many saves to make. Overall Bennett gets the nod, fittingly, for the Player of the Season.
So after a no pressure game on Saturday against Macclesfield it will be time to relax for a bit and then refresh our memories on the lbw law, how many points you need to win a tie break, and what the offside rule means in Rugby League.
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