Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Season Review: Part Seven
By: Sam Kinnaird
THE Mariners headed into the New Year in 22nd place, seven points clear of Bournemouth who were catching up fast. Luton looked doomed, still 15 points behind Town and only seven wins in 23 games so far this season.
Town needed points and quick though. Rotherham were starting to pull away from the pack, and Barnet and Chester looked like the most likely teams to be overtaken by an upturn in Town’s form.
Mike Newell unveiled West Ham left-back Joe Widdowson as the first signing of 2009. The 19-year-old had signed on loan for an initial month. His first game was a trip to Barnet, or was it? No, it was postponed due to a frozen pitch just hours before kick-off; he would have to wait for his debut.
Charlton midfielder Dean Sinclair and Doncaster winger Stuart Elliott both signed deals to move on loan to Blundell Park for an initial month each, and Oldham midfielder JP Kalala signed until the end of the season after impressing in his initial loan move.
The next game was also postponed; the Mariners were due to host Morecambe on 10th January but again a frozen pitch had ended hopes of the game being on. Mike Newell made up for the disappointment of no game by signing ex-Town loanee Rob Atkinson on loan until the end of the season. Winger Peter Till moved on loan to Chesterfield, the Town forum’s were crammed with fans lambasting his being allowed to leave, the club suggested his attitude wasn't up to scratch.
Saturday came, and finally Town had a game to play! But it was Wycombe, top of the league and unbeaten at home all season. Surely only a home win would happen, but a rejuvenated Town side had other ideas. A fine Nathan Jarman volley from an Akpa Akpro cross was the only goal of the game as Town played their opposition off the pitch at Adams Park. Mike Newell took the plaudits for a tactical victory; would this be the start of the great escape?
Next up was a home game against Rotherham, a team that would be in the play-offs had they not been deducted 17 points by the Football League. Again, the betting suggested a comfortable defeat for the Mariners, but again we had other ideas. An excellent free-flowing passing performance brought a 3-0 home win, with goals from Joe Widdowson, Adam Proudlock and Dean Sinclair securing a fantastic win.
Successive wins had brought a much needed six points for the Mariners, points which moved them ten points clear of Bournemouth and only a single point behind Barnet. A tough home game against 5th placed Dagenham was next, a fiery affair ended in a 1-1 draw. Stuart Elliott had given Town a deserved 1-0 lead but Jon Nurse equalised for Dagenham with a fine individual effort. It was a valuable point for the Mariners against a well organised Dagenham outfit.
A trip to Yorkshire neighbours Bradford was next. A vociferous Town support of 1,000 roared the team on to a battling performance against the odds. Rob Atkinson was sent off early on, and Bradford were camped in the Town box until half time. The second half saw Town come back into the game, and had chances to go ahead themselves. But Bradford took the lead when Nicky Law’s low drive went through Phil Barnes, and Steve Jones broke to score a second deep into injury time to break Town fans' hearts. It was a brave performance by the ten men, who were unlucky to lose the game in the end.
January was a fantastic month for Town, picking up seven points against tough opposition. It showed the team had the stomach for the fight. The new signings had freshened up a depleted squad and Newell had brought a fresh impetus into the club. With more tough games on the way, would more points be on the way?
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