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Atkinson: MOM
Atkinson: MOM

Shooting Practice

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 27/02/2010

GRIMSBY capitulated to Dagenham this afternoon at Victoria Road in what turned out to be a regulation win for the Essex outfit. After withstanding lots of first half pressure the Mariners finally succumbed soon after the break, and a second goal four minutes from time sealed the win.

With other results in the division not going their way Grimsby are now close to the "snookers required" stage of the season, and many of their supporters have resigned themselves to Blue Square Football next season.

Neil Woods made several changes to the side. Sweeney came into midfield after his two match suspension, and new 'keeper Mark Oxley made his professional debut between the sticks. Captain Peacock wore the skipper's arm band in a delicious piece of irony.

Dagenham bossed the game from the off, winning a succession of corners and Town's defence had to be at their strongest to contain the constant aerial bombardment from set pieces and long throw-ins.

Grimsby's first chance came on half an hour when a Sweeney free kick near the corner flag was glanced just wide by Peacock.

Grimsby had a 5 minute spell when they had a man advantage due to a head injury to a Dagenham defender. They failed to make the most of it though. Despite winning a corner during this spell, they decided to play a short one and failed to make use of the numerical advantage in the box.

The best two chances of the first half fell to Grimsby in the last few seconds. Firstly Peter Bore volleyed just wide from a good position, and then a rare piece of skill by Tommy Wright to beat his man resulted in a terrific cross to Peacock just in front of goal which he headed narrowly over.

Half Time: Dagenham 0 Grimsby 0.

It had mainly been one way traffic but Town had withstood a barrage and in their occasional moments of pressure had even troubled the Daggers defence.

Before the second half had really started Town were behind. Dagenham broke quickly and Montgomery played a great cross field ball onto the head of Scott. Scott launched himself at the ball and fired a bullet header past Oxley.

Grimsby never really recovered from this blow, but at least managed to stop Dagenham adding a second until the end.

This was partly due to luck than the quality of the defending, however. On 58 minutes there was a mass scramble in the Town box when the Grimsby defence kept clearing the ball to another Dagenham player who then shot on goal, only to repeat the cycle. In the end it was like shooting practice with virtually every forward in the home side having an attempt on goal, before it was eventually cleared.

Town's afternoon got worse when Sweeney limped off with a injury to be replaced by Coulson.

Dagenham had obviously studied the lunar cycle and seen that it was a full moon, as they didn't turn the floodlights on despite the gloom. Had it been a cricket match it would undoubtedly been stopped.

Substitute Akpro nearly grabbed an undeserved equaliser on 83, but his shot was tipped round the goal by goalkeeping joker Tony Roberts.

With four minutes to go though the game was finally put to bed. Green simply ran into the box and fired the ball low past Oxley.

Oxley then made a basic mistake in the final few minutes dropping the ball which lead to another pinball like session of shooting practice before someone hoofed it to safety.

The Grimsby crowd in the dying stages resorted to Gallows Humour chants about the dire situation the Mariners find themselves in.

Full Time: Dagenham 2 Grimsby 0.

Town got in the end what they deserved - nothing. The stats say it all. Dagenham had 24 shots on goal and 14 corners; Grimsby had 6 and 4 respectively. What's more many of their long throw-ins in the final third were almost as good as a free kick.

Dagenham's game was simple but effective; Town's was neither. Grimsby did not look comfortable playing the ball out of defence, and frequently gave it away when they attempted to. When they tried hoofing the ball up the field it inevitably came back by the simple fact that almost everyone was back defending.

Neil Woods has this week addressed a non-critical problem - the goalkeeper. It seems bizarre to replace an experienced 'keeper with someone making their professional debut, no matter how much promise he has. The problem under Woods has not been conceding goals anyway - it's been scoring them. We simply don't create enough chances to make winning a game very likely, you don't need to be a statistician to realise that. This season has also been one long succession of people leaving or being dropped only to be replaced by someone worse or far less experienced (Bennett, Newell, Conlon and now Colgan are prime examples)

Nobody really deserves to be Man of the Match but Rob Atkinson wins it for withstanding so much pressure for most of the game.

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