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Same Old Grimsby
By: Ian Townsend
IN the "Good Old Days" I used to look forward to a visit to Bradford. The fact that my visits were to the Bradford Alhambra to see the annual pantomime courtesy of the Post Office workers social committee is another matter.
Over recent years the relish for a footballing visit to West Yorkshire's fourth most important city has diminished as the games have taken on the appearance of two ageing heavyweight boxers who've both seen much better days slugging it out for the points. Never was it more apparent than Saturday 13 February 2010 as in the "red corner" we had Bradford City a club of whom great things were expected at the start of the season but who now found themselves struggling at the wrong end of the table against in the "blue corner" Grimsby Town of whom great things were expected at the start of the season which, as sure as eggs is eggs didn't include a winless run stretching back to September 2009.
Bradford as a city depresses me. There, I've said it!! It appears to have been missed in the headlong pursuit of modern development enjoyed by it’s near bigger neighbour. However the actual stadium represents for me a welcome change to the likes of Macclesfield, Dagenham and Accrington. Some might say it represents the vanity of a club that thought it could live with the "big boys". A lot of uninformed nonsense has appeared on "The Fishy" this week about the events at Valley Parade of May 1985. I'll not dwell on that but their ground strikes me as a superb memorial to the 56 people who so tragically lost their lives on that sad day.
A good turnout as always greeted the Town side who lined up as follows:
Bore, Lancashire, Atkinson, Widdowson
Coulson, Sinclair, Peacock, Sweeney
Subs: Akpro, Leary, Overton, Hegarty, Linwood, Hudson, Fletcher.
The sages in the crowd opined that the result would be decided by which Town team turned up. If the first ten minutes were anything to go by Town should have been looking at a right hammering! From back to front there was hesitancy, shocking ball control (on a dreadful pitch) and abysmal passing as Bradford came at Town in an attempt to please their caretaker manager. Somehow Town weathered the storm and slowly began to take the game to the home side. A great challenge and pass by Sinclair put Coulson in the clear and his cross was blocked out for Town’s first corner. Anyone looking for a reason as to why Town are having problems finding the net were given a brilliant insight as the corner came in. When it was inevitably headed out to the edge of the box (Do we have a player who can head a ball goalwards?) there wasn't a black and white shirt within ten yards resulting in an easy clearance. There was a huge gap between the players in the box and the two defenders on the half way line.
The ever improving Bore was next to spark some life into Town’s attacks as he went on a typical strong run which was only stopped by a fine tackle. Now it was all Town and Coulson who was seeing plenty of the ball received a fine 20 yard pass from Lancashire which produced another corner.
Back came Bradford and danger presented itself as, not for the first time, Town’s attempted offside trap was sprung. A cross came in and a Bradford forward was left holding his head in his hands as his shot from an unmarked position went high over Colgan’s bar much to the visitors relief.
Coulson again tried to create and looked to have beaten his man. Unfortunately he was pushed too wide and the ball went out harmlessly for a goal kick.
Town’s next attack brought their best opportunity of the half. Wright (who until that point had been anonymous) went down like he'd been shot with a high velocity rifle in a move that wouldn't have looked out of place in the upcoming Olympic skating competition. The position seemed ideal for Sweeney 20 yards out and on the left. Unfortunately Town’s dead ball "specialist" didn't beat the wall on this occasion.
The half meandered to a close as the pattern of recent weeks exerted itself. Solid enough defending but little or no penetration going forward. The statistics much loved by many fishyites would once again show shots "none"
HALF TIME: Bradford City 0 Mariners 0.
As Town lined up for the second half it appeared that Woods’ half time team talk may have tried to instil into his players a bit of belief that Bradford were there for the taking. Town did indeed take the game to their hosts and a bit of skill from Proudlock enabled the striker to beat the offside trap. His cross wasn't reached by the incoming Wright although the loan striker was under pressure.
Bradford’s first effort of the half saw Lancashire come to Town’s rescue when a 20 yard shot wasn't held by Colgan but was cleared by the Southampton loanee. As is the way with football the hero very nearly became the villain. Lancashire slipped and inadvertently set up a Bradford attack. Fortunately the player who received Lancashire’s mishit pass gave the ball to a colleague who was offside much to the obvious relief of Town and their fans.
Town were by no means out of it and some great work by Sweeney and Coulson from a corner routine ended with the former smashing in a 20 yarder which Glennon in the Bradford goal did well to parry.
Michael Boulding replaced Thorne for Bradford as the hosts sought to clinch the game but it was Town again who came closest. Bore thought he'd beaten the offside trap but inexplicably fired well wide in a one on one. His blushes were only saved by the flag raised a bit belatedly.
As players tired on the heavy pitch the game went from end to end. Town defended very well but, despite the arrival of fresh legs in the form of Akpro who replaced Coulson couldn't break down the Bradford defence.
Bradford looked the more likely to break the deadlock but the Town defence held firm.
Town tried to freshen up the midfield but there was laughable confusion as both Sinclair and Peacock thought their number was up. A hurried change to the 4th officials board saw Peacock leave the field to be replaced by Leary who’s first action was to get his customary booking for a poor lunge on the left.
Hudson replaced Proudlock for the last few minutes with Akpro moving inside. In truth any momentum had long gone and Town were forced to hold on for the four minutes of time added on.
FULL TIME: Bradford City 0 Mariners 0
Five months ago we would have been delighted at a point away at Bradford. Such is Town’s predicament at this time that only a win will do. I have to become the latest in a long line of match report writers to wonder where that elusive win is going to come from. Town simply do not get into enough dangerous positions or create enough chances to win games.
Positives? There were a few. The defence seems to be working pretty much as a unit now. In Peacock we have someone who will grow in influence IF he can get fully fit.
Man of the Match: A couple of candidates. Peter Bore defensively is growing in confidence but it is his attacking play that makes him such an asset. For some reason League 2 defenders do not like being run at from deep. However I'm giving it to Ollie Lancashire for a fine defensive performance aside from his reported slip.
We need to forget Notts County on Wednesday and concentrate on being ready for Armageddon….Lincoln at home next Saturday.
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