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Missing the Point
By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 30/01/2010 (Last updated: 14/03/2010)
GRIMSBY missed a golden chance to break their 18-match winless run and see manager Neil Woods record his first win since taking over from Mike Newell. After taking an early lead through an Aldershot own goal, Town then missed an open goal and Adam Proudlock blasted a penalty over the bar.
In between Grimsby's two best chances Aldershot had seen all their second half possession rewarded with a well struck equaliser.
Following Proudlock's miss from the penalty spot, Grimsby had 'keeper Nick Colgan to thank for denying Aldershot what would have been an undeserved winner.
Town had in the end to settle for yet another point, which does little to ease their relegation fears.
Grimsby gave three players their debuts: Tommy Wright partnered Adam Proudlock up front; Dean Sinclair and Lee Peacock made up a completely new midfield, which freed up Peter Sweeney to start the game on the left wing.
Town got off to a perfect start from a corner. The ball was played back to the corner taker Sweeney, who then gave it to Coulson who whipped in a dangerous cross goalwards. With several players lined up in the box, the ball appeared to come off an Aldershot player, and looped into the net.
The Town fans initially reacted with disbelief. Gradually the message spread amongst the supporters that not only had the ball gone in the net, and we had scored, but we were leading in a football match. After treble checking linesmen's flags and the referee's hand signals the celebrations began.
Buoyed by their goal and aided by their new signings Town began to play with a swagger not seen since the season's opening half at Cheltenham. Aldershot barely had a meaningful shot on goal in the first 45 minutes, a half in which Town had all the better chances.
Up until the 38th minute the best chances mainly came from balls whipped across the box which nobody got on the end of.
Town though had a golden chance when their danger man Coulson split the defence yet again and picked out debutante Tommy Wright who just had a simple tap in to an empty net. Somehow Wright hit the ball almost ninety degrees away from the empty net in front of him and it dribbled into the 'keeper's arms.
The half ended and Grimsby had won their second successive 45 minutes (they 'won' the second half at Rotherham, but lost 2-1). Their greatest achievement was to have denied Aldershot any serious attempts on goal. Attacking wise we looked more solid in central midfield and Sweeney and Coulson were both looking dangerous on the wings.
Half Time: Aldershot 0 Grimsby 1
Aldershot made a substitution at half time, and that may have helped the Shots have the bulk of possession in the early part of the second period. Pleasingly though there was very little to show for their efforts in terms of chances created in the final third.
The Grimsby supporters kept up a "Neil Woods B&W Army" chant going for about 15 minutes at the start of the second half, drowning out any attempts by the inferior Aldershot drummer to get the home fans going.
Town were mainly attacking on the break but when they did get forward they looked on occasions more dangerous than Aldershot. Bore set up Proudlock early in the second half but the Town striker shot wide.
Aldershot finally created a serious chance for themselves on 68 minutes when Hylton raced on to a ball played through the middle and riffled in past Conlon.
Town almost equalised when Coulson won a corner and Wright's shot from the ensuing set piece was cleared off the line.
With the game opening up Colgan then made a good save from Hylton, and fortunately nobody was on hand to put the rebound in.
Cowan-Hall came on a substitute on 70 mins and looked impressive with some mazy runs through the Aldershot defence.
Grimsby appeared to have taken a huge step to winning the game when the linesman flagged for a penalty, after an Aldershot player had handled Cowan-Hall's cross. It looked a slightly dubious decision, but was worth a shout (in cricketing parlance). Proudlock picked up the ball, but the spot kick was delayed for a couple of minutes by three Aldershot defenders arguing with the referee. Their arguments were a clever bit of gamesmanship because by the time the referee got to allowing the kick to be taken Proudlock had been thinking about where to place the ball for too long! The result was a spot kick blasted high over the bar. The Town faithful stood motionless in silent devastation as the rest of the ground celebrated. Had our best chance of breaking the sequence finally been thrown away, just like all those failures to beat 10 men?
There was nearly a sting in the tail. Colgan made a fantastic late save from Donnelly, which barely even received any applause in the away end, such was the feeling of devastation.
With 5 minutes of injury time (presumably for the penalty gamesmanship) there were a few late scares, with Bore failing to make the most of a late chance, but yet again we had to settle for a draw.
The away fans were far from content with a point, barely clapping the players off, despite a much improved performance. Such are the margins between failure and success. Had Proudlock's kick been two feet lower I would be writing about what a great performance it was - instead the focus is yet again on our inability to score.
Full Time: Aldershot 1 Grimsby 1
Man of the Match was Coulson who caused no end of problems for the Aldershot defence. Special mention must go to the other three midfielders. Sweeney did not look too out of place on the left wing, and Peacock was the pick of the two central midfielders. Wright missed a sitter and generally did not catch the eye much. Cowan-Hall had an excellent cameo and looks worth a longer showing. The defence were all solid and Colgan made a few good saves and catches from high crosses.
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