Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
We Are So Proud........
By: Ian Townsend
SATURDAY November 7th 2009 may well go down as the day Grimsby Town hit rock bottom. However such is the pace of "professional" football these days that a chance to make amends is never far away. At 4:30 last night the hope that "It couldn't get any worse" was all that propelled our car load towards the lights of the 3rd biggest city in England.
Watching Town at the moment must be akin to being married to a partner who continually strays. You might be hurt, but the fundamental love you feel persuades you, without too much difficulty to give them yet another chance.....
Now Leeds United may well have gone through their own "self inflicted" troubles lately but one thing cannot be denied. Their set up and fan base deserves far better than the third tier of English football. There were wistful looks on quite a few faces amongst the older fans present as they remembered when trips to great grounds were a matter of league points...not progression in a "Mickey Mouse" trophy. I feel for the generation of Town fans who have never experienced Bramhall Lane, Molyneux, Hillsborough etc. etc. Such is the weight on the shoulders of John Fenty at the moment that we are trying to preserve trips to Accrington, Rochdale and Macclesfield.
Elland Road is one of those stadia that has matured with age. Everything about it is class. The acoustics are marvelous and the decent following of Town fans set about using them to the best of their ability.
Of course after Saturday there had to be changes on the field. Really it was difficult to find someone who would have merited another chance. As it was Woods set about trying to stiffen the defence as he opted for a back five of:
Colgan Bore, Atkinson, Lancashire and new loan signing McCrory. In midfield Town welcomed back Jamie Clark and Peter Sweeney with Leary and Saturday’s only "star" Shahin making up the quartet. Up front Danny North and Adrian Forbes were the preferred partnership. On the bench: Overton, Linwood, Conlon, Akpro and Bradley Wood.
The game began pretty much as expected. Leeds playing crisp, passing football and Town living on their collective nerves. However there were signs that the lack of effort of Saturday had been replaced by some determination as Forbes particularly charged around as though his very life depended on it. Although Leeds had the better of the football Town made some good moves on the break as Clarke in particular made good use of the space he was allowed to set up several forward moves. North looked interested and produced good work which was only stopped by a succession of interceptions resulting in corners which unfortunately came to nothing. Defensively Town dealt well with the prolific Leeds forwards, restricting them to long range efforts which caused Colgan the minimum of concern.
Town grew in confidence and tried to take the game to Leeds. Unfortunately Adrian Forbes (in particular) exhibited all the positional sense of Mark Thatcher (copywrite Nicksmariners) as he was repeatedly caught offside. Young Shahin on the other hand showed some decent touches and managed to work his way into a shooting position only to get a rush of blood to the head and shoot harmlessly wide to the amusement of the Leeds faithful in the Don Revie stand.
As half time approached it looked increasingly as though Town may go in level. Then, for the umpteenth time this season Lady Luck took a hand. A good run down the left saw Bore, who didn't get anywhere close enough to his opponent, exposed. A great cross came in which was turned into his own net by the exceedingly unfortunate Lancashire with Colgan a helpless spectator on 40 minutes. The irony of Lancashire scoring for Yorkshire wasn't lost on the Town contingent.
The goal took the wind out of the Town sails as Leeds sought to press home their advantage. The 4th. Official signalled a minute of time allowed as Kilkenny picked up the ball, advanced without a challenge and fired low past Colgan for a rather flattering 2-0 half time score line.
Half Time: Leeds United 2 Grimsby Town 0
The second half began with Town trying to make amends but it was Leeds who made the early running as their midfield exposed the all too evident weaknesses defensively in the Town opposite numbers. Leary who'd had a steady game gave the ball away in a dangerous position with the resulting shot just clearing Colgan’s bar.
The relief was to be short lived though as on 55 minutes, any lingering hopes that Town could get something out of the game appeared dashed as Leeds scored a third. Beckford was given too much space in the box and poked the ball home from close range. The screened replay showed that perhaps Colgan could have made a better fist of his attempt to prevent the score as he went down quite slowly.
To be honest at this point a large proportion of the Town faithful would have been quite justified in looking for some damage limitation. However as has been proved throughout history attack is often the best form of defence. Town won a corner which, when delivered by Clark was headed out as far as Sweeney. His volley crashed into the net off the underside of the bar to enhance the possibility of an interesting last half hour.
Woods made his first substitution bringing on Akpro for the tiring North. The move seemed to give Town some impetus as a good interchange between Shahin and Akpro ended with the former curling a shot over the bar.
Town upped the momentum and earned a free kick which Sweeney hit low but was cleared easily. Then from another free kick Lancashire desperate to atone for his earlier error was unable to direct his header and it flew harmlessly wide.
The next action came at the other end though as Leeds reminded the Town defence that they could almost trouble them at will. A deep cross to the far post was headed goalwards and only cleared desperately with the aid of the post with Colgan scrambling.
At that point Woods had seen enough. Forbes who had run his heart out was brought off for Conlon to enter the fray. Town continued to press and when the ball fell once again to Sweeney the Town fans packed behind the goal sensed another screamer. Unfortunately the Town playmaker didn't quite get hold of it and the ball flew wide.
Clarke became the last substitution "victim" as Wood replaced him. Most people seemed to think that Wood would replace Bore at right back allowing him to move forward. So it was a surprise when he took up a roving midfield berth. The wisdom of the decision was uncannily called into question only a minute or two later. Wood picked up a loose ball and found himself in acres of space through on goal. As he moved forward you couldn't help but wish that it was Bore or North in the position. To his credit he got his shot away but the experienced Ankergren got down to smother it and the chance was lost.
The game drew to a close with another flurry of Town corners but as the referee blew time we were left to reflect on a performance far better than most this dreadful season so far.
Final Score: Leeds United 3 Grimsby Town 1
A cautionary note is that Town were able to play some decent football because of the extra room their opponents gave them. What Woods and his possible successor will have to do and quickly is instil a winning mindset in League Two with all its shortcomings.
Man of the Match: Quite difficult with a few contenders. Leary had his best game thus far. Forbes and North ran their socks off. However on the balance I'm giving it to Sweeney not just for his goal but for his generally astute play.
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