Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY lost their second successive game, losing to high-flying Fleetwood Town at Blundell Park. A goal just before half time gave the visitors a deserved half time lead. Fleetwood doubled their advantage from a disputed second half corner. Connell finally converted a chance to give Town a lifeline, but the mountain was too big for Town to climb.
Before the match I was reading Hugo's epic Les Miserables, sandwiched in between studying Fenty's programme notes and watching the players warm up. It struck me that the title could equally well describe the inhabitants of the Pontoon, as it did the characters in the book. I was hoping not to have to mention this fact when it came to describing subsequent events, but unfortunately it was not to be.
Neil Woods made a number of changes for Town. Kenny Arthur was to have played in goal, but was injured in the warm up so there actually was no change. Scott Garner started in place of the suspended Darran Kempson. Coulson came in on the right side of midfield, Eagle on the left, and Tom Corner started up front alongside Connell.
Town had to kick the wrong way, their opponents choosing to attack their own supporters (all 100 of them) in the first half. It is just me or does this normally mean the best we can hope for is a draw?
Grimsby got off to a reasonable start, looking bright and passing the ball around well without creating much in the way of chances.
It was the visitors though who came closer to scoring in the opening exchanges. Dangerman Magno Vieira headed over after just 3 minutes, and O'Donnell had to make a save low down to deny Craney.
Fleetwood looked like they were about to score when Vieira beat his man and crossed to Curtis for a tap-in. But he scuffed his shot and O'Donnell was able to rescue the ball from Curtis's feet.
By this point the crowd had turned. Every time Fleetwood strung together more than half a dozen passes it was greeted with cries of indignation and incomprehension. How could we, possibly, not be good enough to get the ball of this pub side, it was inexcusable...
Their anger turned to the referee after he booked Eagles for an insipid challenge near the half way line.
As the half progressed the confidence seemed to drain from Town. Loan 'keeper O'Donnell was furious with his defence after they allowed full back Beeley to run right round the edge penalty area, before shaping up to shoot and forcing a save from Town's 'keeper.
After a Fleetwood corner Town seemed to have a great chance when they broke out of defence, and it was probably 3 on 3, if not 3 on 2 when ball broke loose. The move just about summed up Town's half. Donnell initially with the ball at his feet seemed to break too slowly. He eventually passed to Coulson, but the attack had just slowed up and Coulson ended up with a speculative shot from about 35 yard which sailed into the Pontoon.
But worse was to follow. Connell was played onside and burst through into the penalty area with just the 'keeper to beat and everyone else miles away. In the end he did nothing. He didn't shoot, he didn't try to go round the 'keeper, he didn't attempt a pass into the path of the nearest Town player (Coulson?). In the end he just limply ran into the Fleetwood 'keeper, and the moment was wasted.
Fleetwood took the lead just before half time. Vieira and Curtis linked up, and the latter crossed into the path of Seddon whose header flew in off the post from close range.
Grimsby were booed off by Les Miserables, who had started to look very miserable.
Half Time: Grimsby 0 Fleetwood 1
Neil Woods made two changes at the start of the second half. Peacock and Gobern replacing Coulson and Eagle.
The shuffle almost paid immediate dividends. A great move led to a pass to Corner, which looked like a tap-in, but he mishit the shot and what seemingly a certain goal failed to materialise.
Fleetwood continued to look the more dangerous side though, and they were awarded a corner on 59 minutes, which was completely the wrong decision by the referee as it came off the Fleetwood player. Town stood like statues though at the set piece, and Pond just needed to get it on target to score, which he did.
Woods replaced Corner with Wood, and Town soon pulled a goal back with a brilliant piece of skill by Connell, lobbing the 'keeper who was helpless to watch the ball sail over him and into the top corner.
Grimsby pressed for an equaliser, and even had six minutes of injury time to said their cause awarded for time wasting and an injury to Curtis, but the closest they came was when Connell shot over from the edge of the box.
Full Time: Grimsby 1 Fleetwood 2
The match finished and those of Les Miserables who remained, booed the team from the pitch, and shuffled from the stands into the Saturday evening gloom wondering when the nightmare was ever going to end.
In the end Fleetwood probably deserved the three points, although Grimsby missed two great chances to score (Connell in the first half, and Corner in the second) so it could easily be a different story.
It's difficult to put a finger on what Town are doing wrong. First of all underestimating the opposition is a massive problem, for the crowd at least. The paying public are deluded if they think Grimsby Town just have to turn up to beat Fleetwood, who were above us in the league even before the start of play. The bookies made Town favourites, but not strong favourites. This expectation almost certainly rubs off the crowd onto the players, even if it doesn't play a part in their pre-match preparations.
Not having a settled side probably doesn't help either. The teams at the top of divisions always seem to play the same side every week more or less. Woods has a big squad and a lot of choices but is that always the best thing?
At this point of the season the Mariners have played almost entirely teams in the top half of the table, and are now poised midway in the Blue Square Premier league. The games start to get a little easier in the next few weeks (on paper) so hopefully happier days are just around the corner (but then we've only been saying that for the last ten years....)
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