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The Shortest Honeymoon On Record?
By: Ian Townsend
IN days gone by, the appointment of a new manager would have sparked considerable interest amongst the people of the town. However this is 2009 and Neil Woods is the fifth manager in three and a half seasons tasked with the unenviable job of trying to reverse an eight year slow decline.
If the small pockets of people making their way towards the ground are any sort of a barometer Grimsby Town FC and their new manager are a million miles away from the thoughts of the vast majority of the good folk of the twin towns.
Those of us who had made the journey were wondering whether the hard earned points from the last two away games could be built upon. Woods chose to shuffle his pack slightly with a selection of:
Colgan, Bore, Linwood, Lancashire, McCrory Featherstone, Leary, Sweeney, Shahin Conlon, Coulson
On the bench: Overton, Forbes, Akpro, Wood, Boshell, Clarke, North.
As I looked around the ground at half filled stands it was hard not to remember that a matter of only 8 years ago a game between the two sides on display was a regular fixture in the second tier of English football.
The game itself started slowly as both sides struggled to come to terms with yet another swirling wind. On eight minutes though Bradford signalled their intent as a quick move down the right saw the ball eventually squared across the box where fortunately for the home side the Bradford attacker snatched at his shot and it went harmlessly wide.
Town tried to make a bit of progress using the width but, as so often at Lincoln on Saturday they were let down by a poor final ball.
The scale of the problem facing Woods in relation to winning over all the loyalists became apparent as Town’s attempt at playing “keep ball” appeared to enrage some fans with repeated shouts to “Get it forward!!”
Admittedly Town were once again lacking any real penetration and as the half wore on Bradford took control. The first goal, however, when it arrived came somewhat out of the blue. A clearance from Bradford’s keeper was flicked on to Whaley who fired in a very good finish just inside Colgan’s near post from distance. Once again opinion was divided about Colgan’s part in events with some fans wondering whether he might have got nearer to the effort.
Town tried to come back. Unfortunately Conlon desperate to shine against his old employers was having a game to forget in front of goal. A deep cross to the far post was missed by the Town striker to howls of derision from the Bradford fans behind the goal.
It was from Town’s first corner that their best chance came. Sweeney got a good delivery and when the ball came in Lancashire powered in a header which was very well saved by Eastwood in the away goal.
Then Peter Bore put through by Coulson hesitated and was crowded out on the angle of the penalty box.
Conlon was guilty again as the half came to a close, being unable to connect with Bore’s cross.
The goal had had a detrimental effect on Town’s resolve and the “bad old days” of allowing themselves to be pressed back onto the edge of their own penalty area were very much in evidence. This resulted in hopeful punts up the field to no-one in particular with the ball coming straight back into danger.
Half Time: Town 0 Bratfud 1
Bradford started the second half with plenty of intent winning two corners within the first minute both dealt with fairly comfortably. The impetus seemed to rub off on Town though and some good work from Conlon found Coulson who’s cross in turn found Featherstone. The loanees shot was inches wide of the post. This heralded Town’s best spell of the match as first Coulson was only stopped at the expense of a corner and then a couple of Sweeney free kicks were dealt with.
The half was punctuated by a series of laughable incidents which once again showed the naiveity of Town’s approach to the game. From a free kick in a dangerous position the Bradford defence moved forward as a unit leaving all six of Town’s attackers in n0-mans land looking at each other in dumbfounded amazement.
However as on so many occasions this season Town were the architects of their own downfall as they conceded a second goal. Bradford won a corner which was cleared as far as midfield. The ball was returned to the right where under no pressure from the Town defence the cross was whipped in where McCrory met it with what can only be described as the worst defensive header I’ve ever seen, back across his own box where Williams gleefully snapped up the chance for 0-2.
This knocked the stuffing out of the Town team and it was evident heads had gone down.
On 64 minutes Woods made his first substitution with Akpro coming on for the tiring Shahin with the manager clearly hoping he could continue his performance on Saturday where he held the ball up well in the difficult conditions. Indeed it was Akpro who raised the spirits temporarily with a typical mazy run. Unfortunately he pushed the ball too far in front of himself and threw himself to the floor in a dive that was so poor one can only assume the referee didn’t book him out of pity.
It was all Bradford and as shots fizzed in on Colgan’s goal from all over the pitch a third goal looked inevitable.
Woods brought on Wood for Coulson with the youngster taking up his normal role at the back allowing Bore to move into a more normal forward position.
The last throw of the dice came with the introduction of Forbes with Conlon who although showing commitment is clearly off his game at the moment making way.
With eight minutes left the inevitable third goal duly arrived with yet another shot from distance, this time by Hanson, seeming to bounce over Colgan as he dived.
The announcer didn’t even announce time added on as the few fans who were left prayed for the final whistle.
Final Score: Town 0 Bratfud 3
In Neil Woods Town have a manager with the unenviable achievement of having what must be the shortest honeymoon period on record. Fans will be watching intently to see how the players respond to this latest defeat. The manager is working with what must be the least experienced starting XI seen at B.P. for many a long year. What a pity that some of the senior players in the squad haven’t delivered when required. Whether the youth have the experience for the battle ahead remains to be seen. The consequences of failure are too horrendous to be contemplated
Make no bones about it, Town are in a scrap more perilous than last season. Hoping Accrington go bust may not be enough to save us.
Man of the Match: No real candidates. Lancashire by default.
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