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Town Go Fourth and Multiply
By: Ben Bowers
THERE was excitement all around as it was Grimsby’s first 5.15 kick for many years and it was their first televised game since the defeat to Leeds last year in the JPT.
Town lined up as follows:
O'Donnell Bore, Kempson, Watt, Ridley, Gobern, Hudson, Cummins, Wood, Connell, Peacock.
With a little bit of wind settling in, Luton kicked off attacking the Pontoon. Luton had the first chance of the match when they were awarded a free kick by the ref on the edge of the area-even though Luton had committed a bad foul in the build up to the free kick being given (the ref was inconsistent throughout the game). The shot was straight at O'Donnell fortunately. Whilst all the Town players were rushing forward waiting for O'Donnell to punt the ball for one of our strikers, he rolled the ball to Wood who was not expecting it and he was robbed of the ball and the Luton player sent a deep cross from the right hand side to Gallen who teed the ball and shot. It would have gone in had Kempson not produced a great diving header to divert the ball for a corner. From the resulting corner Town cleared the ball away but only as far as a Luton midfielder who took an ambitious 25 yard shot which clipped the top of the crossbar with O'Donnell completely stranded - Luton were putting on the early pressure.
Town began to get a bit more into the game with two promising crosses coming in from the left hand side but no Town player could get on the end of them. Then there was some bizarre refereeing as Luton’s midfielder Keane was injured but the referee did not blow the whistle to stop the game so play continued. This ended with a Town throw and eventually the referee stopped play so Keane could get some treatment. After play had been resumed and Keane had been taken off the pitch to get serious treatment the referee then ordered Town to give the ball to Luton! Even though it had been Town’s throw.
After 17 minutes Town had the first chance with Kempson rising highest to a corner but he headed at the keeper. A few minutes, later Connell had an ambitious swerving shot from outside the area which went just over but it was always rising. Then there was another wave of Luton pressure but it concluded with a shot that went high and wide.
The Luton right winger then went on a rampaging run - easily rounding Ridley - and his cross culminated with a shot that was goal bound before the excellent Kempson blocked the shot.
In the 27th minute Ridley got forward, cut inside and fed it to Connell in the area just to the left of the goal. Connell shot first time and the keeper could only parry it for a corner. From the resulting corner Kempson headed the ball on and it hit the hand of a Luton defender in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. The offender was given a yellow card. The responsibility fell to Connell who confidently put it away into the bottom left hand corner past the grasp of the goalkeeper to take his goal tally for the season to four.
Luton responded positively and they almost scored when there was a goalmouth scramble but Bore managed to hoof it away. They did have another chance, this time a header, but it didn't have enough power and was easy for O'Donnell.
Then just before half time Luton won a corner as a result of poor communication between Watt and O'Donnell. From the corner a Luton player rose highest and headed to O'Donnell’s left. It would have gone in had Hudson not been on the line to head clear.
HT Grimsby 1 Luton 0
Luton started brighter and they put on the early pressure. Barnes-Homer cut in from the left going past Kempson - his one mistake of the day - and hit the post - however it looked like O'Donnell had his near post covered. At the other end Connell then tried the spectacular as he attempted a bicycle kick at the far post from a right side corner.
In the 55th minute Luton had a good opening but the resulting header went straight over. Watt then went close with a flick-on header and moments later Connell was through on goal but the linesman wrongly gave it offside. For about 15 minutes the game went through a quiet period with both sides failing to create any openings.
Then in the 69th minute the game came alive. Town won a free kick ten yards to the left of the D. The Luton player wouldn't give the ball back and Ridley wrestled with the time waster. They squared up to each other. This livened up the Town fans and the noise level inside Blundell Park increased a few decibels. After Ridley and the Luton player had been dealt with, Peacock took the free kick. It hit the head of one of the Luton players in the wall and it went out for a corner. The resulting corner was taken from the left hand side by Gobern and it reached Cummins about 8 yards out directly in line with the edge of the 6 yard box past the Luton goalkeeper.
Similar to the aftermath of Connell’s goal, Luton responded well but their next shot was skied and out of the ground. I then got my first glimpse of Tom Corner who came on for Wood. Corner looked impressive and he will improve over time. Luton then had another header and this one was saved comfortably by O'Donnell. Connell was then set free as a result of a great pass from Gobern. However under pressure, he shot from a tight angle and it was easily saved by the Luton goalkeeper. Grimsby were pretty much camped in their own half for the rest of the match. 4 minutes of time was added on and Gobern was substituted for Eagle. In the end Town held on.
FT Grimsby 2 Luton 0
Att. 3,822 (348)
O'Donnell - Good shot stopping but his distribution and communication was poor at times. It will improver once he gets used to the Blundell Park microclimate and his new players.
Ridley - I personally thought he was Town’s worst player. He and Wood didn't gel and the Luton right winger had an easy time getting past him.
Watt - solid
Kempson - My man of the match. Two outstanding blocks to keep it at 0-0. Kept their strikers quiet and didn't always look to hoof it clear. Only once was he beaten.
Bore - Didn’t look composed on the ball but his defending has improved.
Gobern - Probably our most creative player but continually caught out of position. He will be a great success if Woods uses him the right way.
Wood - Did well considering he was played out of position.
Cummins - Took his goal well and did the simple things right.
Hudson - Solid and did the simple stuff.
Peacock - Was much better in the 2nd half and held the ball up well. However he was non-existent in the first half.
Connell - Had a great game and he has great movement causing the defenders problems. Took his penalty well
It was a good performance but that was because Luton came at us looking for the win. My fear is when we play against a team who out 10 men behind the ball and shut up shop, only Gobern can play the killer ball so we must use his talents the right way.
Ben Bowers (the London eye)
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