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Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Woods's Last Stand?
By: Rob Sedgwick
NEIL WOODS'S spell as caretaker manager ended with a second consecutive goalless away draw, this time at local rivals Lincoln City. Grimsby played some good football, particularly in the first half, and had several penalty shouts which the referee all turned down.
Lincoln themselves has chances to win the game. City has a strong penalty appeal of their own in the first half, and Grimsby had to make a good save from Colgan and a goalline clearance from Sweeney to keep them in the game.
In opening 45 minutes Town played some of their best football this season since the first half in the curtain raiser at Cheltenham.
Overall Town would probably have won on points for their overall play, but City had the better chances so a draw was probably a fair result.
Even for regular supporters it's not often there's a game when every player in a Town shirt is familiar and today was no exception. Neil Woods gave a debut to both new loan signings Michael Coulson and Nicky Featherstone. Coulson partnered Danny North up front and Featherstone played in the troublesome right midfield position which nobody has made their own this season.
About 1000 away supporters turned up, more than had been expected. The remainder of the miscellaneous collection of stands that is Sincil Bank was only sparsely populated by home fans.
The highlight of the pre-match warm-up came when Jamie Clarke rugby-tackled the Lincoln mascot, who was attacking our own Mighty Mariner.
Grimsby had the strong wind in their favour for the opening 45 minutes.
There was plenty of passion in the opening 10 minutes but nothing of note happened.
Then after 8 minutes a Town attack broke up and Lincoln quickly counterattacked. Peter Bore brought down City's Clarke on the edge of the box. He wasn't quite the last defender as someone else was more or less level with Bore, so the referee only gave a yellow card, but it was still a nervous few seconds.
City's free kick came to nothing and Town broke themselves. Sweeney eventually tried to curl the ball past the 'keeper with the outside of his boot, but his shot went just high and wide.
Town at this stage were passing the ball around well and linking up with the wide players, playing quick one or two touch football. North ended one notable move shooting straight at the 'keeper.
At the other end Linwood rescued Town from a Lincoln counterattack with a Alan Hanson-esque challenge on the edge of the box, when he won the ball, beat his man and strode forward with the ball at his feet in one superb movement.
Lincoln fluffed a great chance when Town gave the ball away in a dangerous position and Pullis fired just over the bar from the edge of the box.
There were two penalties shouts in the remainder of the first half, one for each side.
Firstly City's Fagan was hauled down in the box by Widdowson (I think), but the referee only gave a corner. It looked to me like a penalty.
Then Town's Sweeney was brought down in the box after being played through by Featherstone. It looked a definite foul to me, the only question in my mind being whether Sweeney had hit the ball too far to have got it had he not been brought down.
City ended the first half looking the stronger side and Town were relieved to go in 0-0 at the break, although they had played the better football for the opening half hour.
Half time: Lincoln 0 Grimsby 0
The first 15 minutes of the second half were very forgettable with neither side able to create anything and no incidents of note.
Town won three corners in quick succession to bring the game to life, but it was almost Lincoln who took the lead soon afterwards. The Imps broke quickly and the ball was played in to Clarke at close range, who had just Colgan to beat. The Irishman though got a hand to his shot and palmed it to safety.
Town almost conceded from one of their own corners, a problem many times this season, when Sweeney gave the ball away in midfield and City broke quickly. Substitute Howe though tried to do it all on his own and shot high and wide when he should have passed the ball.
Lincoln then appeared to have done everything but scored. City took a short corner and Grimsby went to sleep. The ball was played to Watts just yards from goal and he just had to get a head to it. He did but Sweeney somehow managed to get a foot to it and backheeled it off the line and out for a corner.
Town then had a good chance themselves when McCrory powered a 30-yard piledriver just over the bar.
Lincoln's injury problems continued when their centre back Watts was stretchered off with his leg strapped and was taken to hospital. He was applauded off by both sets off fans.
Lincoln finished the game strongly and Grimsby in the end had to hang on nervously for the last few minutes.
Full time: Lincoln 0 Grimsby 0
Town had played the better football and had most of the possession but still created too few chances to win the game. People want to see good football being played but forget sometimes how frustrating it can be to see a lot of possession with no end product which is what happens a lot of the time when you play a passing game. The cries of "get it in the box" inevitably come after five or six passes.
It was nice to see players look comfortable on the ball, at least some of the time. There have been too many times this season when too few players look like they want to have the ball, let alone keep it.
Man of the Match was Peter Sweeney. Town's best player on the day and at the heart of the better moves. Sweeney always seems to have an extra couple of seconds to make his pass than his teammates, and has a better pass percentage than a lot of other players I suspect (or did today).
If the rumours at the game are right then Russell Slade will still be taking up the reigns once again on Monday to see if he can repeat his successful spell which ended three years ago. Slade managed to get some excellent results in his time here, especially away from home (there were some terrible games at home that season which is one of the reasons why he is not fondly remembered I suspect). Whatever happens Tuesday's game will bet yet another New Dawn!
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