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Tommy Four Past!
By: Rob Sedgwick
A woeful performance saw the Mariners end up on the wrong side of a 4-0 drubbing for the second time in four days. This time the victors were newly relegated Crewe who had themselves been looking for their first win of the season.
Grimsby were second best in all areas of the pitch. The new on-loan goalkeeper Southampton 'keeper Tommy Forecast had a terrible debut, looked completely out of his depth, and his indecisiveness quickly spread to the rest of the team. The defence was all over the place, handing Crewe chance after chance to score. The midfield were non-existent, and Town were completely overrun in this area. The forwards failed to work together or with the rest of the team, and the various substitutes who came on at periodic intervals, all failed to make any significant impact.
In short the Mariners were outplayed and outclassed. In 90 minutes of football, I only stood up in my seat on one occasion, which has to be some sort of personal best - or worst.
Mike Newell sprung a couple of surprises in his team selection, bringing in two players to make their debuts in response to the heavy Carling Cup defeat at Tranmere. In came Michael Leary for Peter Sweeney in midfield, and on the right wing Josh Fuller made his first professional start in football.
A large crowd packed in to Blundell Park on a windy but sunny day with just a sprinkling of away supporters in the Osmond End.
Forecast made what proved to be a characteristically bizarre mistake in the opening five minutes, needlessly handling a ball which was going out, and conceding a corner with an error of judgement. From the resulting corner the young 'keeper came for the ball and completely missed it. Fortunately for Town it was cleared by the defence.
With just ten minutes on the clock the crowd had gone into full scale grumble mode, any remaining pre-season optimism was just a distant memory, with hundreds of disgruntled Grimbarians around the ground voicing their concerns to any player or official within hearing distance.
With 20 minutes gone a Crewe free kick saw Brayford ghost in at the far post and volley the ball wide with Forecast rooted on his line.
Town had their best chance on 25 minutes when Akpa Akpro headed the ball from a Boshell corner, but he appeared to head the ball away from goal, despite being stood in the six yard box.
Akpro looked out of sorts, frequently drifted out of position, and was limping midway through the first half. He was replaced by Adam Proudlock on the 30 minute mark.
Within minutes Crewe had taken the lead. Crewe broke and the ball was pinged around Town's penalty area, before being bundled in by Zola. There were appeals for a handball during the build up, but the ref waved them away. It was a scrappy goal to concede but no more than Crewe deserved.
Town almost hauled themselves back into the game straight away when Boshell centred the ball from a corner, and Leary's effort was cleared off the line.
Within Grimsby's players mentally preparing themselves for a half time talking to, in the final minute of the first half Town's players completely switched off. Crewe rang rings around the Mariners, a crisp passing move eventually ending up in the box for Zola to effortlessly head past Forecast.
Half Time: Grimsby 0 Crewe 2
Any hopes that Town could get back into the game were dashed right at the start of the second half. Hegarty brought down Moore in the Crewe box and the ref awarded the Railwaymen a penalty. Zola, on a hattrick, did not take it, instead Jones sent Forecast the wrong way to effectively end the game.
Town brought on Sweeney for Hegarty and North for Fuller, but it was too little too late and Town were only marginally better with the subs on.
There was a period early in the second half when Town and Proudlock, North and Sweeney in particular, did get "stuck in" briefly and rouse the crowd (it was during this period that I stood for a few seconds in my seat), but it didn't last long.
The game carried on in its meaningless way, with Crewe using it for shooting practice, and Grimsby unable to get past the Crewe defence to carve out anything meaningful.
With most of the crowd long gone Crewe scored from a free kick in injury time, after the ball was saved and deflected back into the path of Moore.
Full Time: Grimsby 0 Crewe 4
Where do we go from here? There's two weeks of the transfer window left and it gives us an opportunity to strengthen our midfield where we seemed to be weakest. Danny Boshell was poor today, and Sweeney was probably unfortunate to be dropped instead of Bosh, so that's another option. The debutantes Leary and Fuller didn't do much, and although it would be unfair to judge them on one outing, getting additional players in would do no harm if we can affored it. Newell has signed a lot of forwards but Grimsby do not have that many options in midfield it seems. Sweeney, Proudlock and North all at least looked like they cared when they came on, and it's probably worth starting with at least some of them.
Finally Tommy Forecast, the goalkeeper, who had a nightmare of a debut. Presumably Colgan will not be out for a whole month, but if Forecast is to play he needs to spend more time with the team and getting accustomed to the Blundell Park pitch. Is Overton going to be any worse though it has to be said?
Above all the fixture list has thrown us some of the hardest fixtures at the start of the season, and it was always on the cards that Town would struggle at the start of the season, so there is no need at this stage to panic.
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