Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runners.
By: Ian Townsend
AS the voyage of discovery moved to the North East, Town’s faithful saw themselves drawn to the unlikely venue of Gateshead, in the even more unlikely surroundings of the Gateshead International Athletics stadium. In the age of fitness and healthy lifestyles one can only assume that Gateshead is at the top of the league table. Quite simply nobody walks!
Everyone dresses in lycra and runs everywhere...even older men out walking the dog are doing it at pace. When you are the wrong side of 50 and a touch overweight just being amongst it can make you feel guilty. When you are the possessor of a king sized sausage roll there is only one option. Bin it! As an athletics stadium Gateshead is probably fantastic and I can imagine a great atmosphere when it’s filled to its 11,000 plus capacity. As a football ground it is, to coin a phrase, pants. Two stands, seemingly miles apart, sparsely filled with the 800+ who decided that Blue Square Football is the place to be on a warm September night, and a non-existent tannoy system, made Blundell Park seem like Wembley.
Neil Woods, anxious to end Town’s mini slump opted for a fairly attacking looking line-up:
As seems to be the pattern for this season Town started the game slowly. Their game was littered with either very poor, or over intricate passing as they struggled to make any headway against their opposition.
Town had a couple of early "let offs" when firstly a delicate chip just evaded the Gateshead centre forward and minutes later slack marking in the box enabled Shaw to nip in only to see his effort come back off the post and eventually into the grateful arms of O’ Donnell.
As the half wore on Town tried to create something to cheer up the 200 odd fans who'd made the journey. Both centre backs were prominent in their opponents box but a combination of poor delivery and equally poor touch meant it all came to naught.
Town did "up the ante" but again from a series of promising dead ball situations no-one could provide a killer touch. Connell particularly seemed to be struggling to make an impact on the game. One minute of added time passed and the half ended with neither team being able to create anything worthy of the name "chance".
HALF TIME: Gateshead 0 Grimsby Town 0
Town started the second period in much brighter fashion as at last progress was made down both flanks. Gobern in particular, showing some of the form he produced in his debut at Darlington began to cause problems and it was the yellow booted winger who had Town fans on their feet after 50 minutes as he cut inside before hitting a powerful shot which rebounded off the keepers chest before being hacked away from danger. Peter Bore also started to make headway and produced a couple of dangerous looking runs, the first resulting in a corner and the second in Connell eventually being caught offside as Bore fed Leary who tried to find Town’s leading scorer.
Town were now virtually camped in Gateshead’s half and only the alertness of Deasy in the Gateshead goal prevented Connell getting on the end of a fine through ball.
Michael Leary was the first Town player substituted and he received a warm round of applause for a battling effort in which he covered a lot of ground.
Within minutes the board was up again and a groan of disbelief came from the Mariners fans as Wood made way for Eagle. This substitution saw Bore drop to right back, Gobern transfer to right wide midfield with Eagle taking Gobern’s place wide left.
The reasons for the substitution will be known to the management team. For the fans the result was clear...the virtual surrender of the initiative Town had worked hard to fashion.
Despite a fine effort from substitute Hudson rattling a post with the keeper statuesque, Town began to be pushed back as Bore in particular got less opportunity to get forward.
Town retreated into their own box as Gateshead went for the opening goal and the Mariners were indebted to Kempson’s powers of recovery after he rectified his initial mistake with a great block. Watt also had to be at his best as Gateshead won three corners on the bounce with Town unable to successfully clear their lines.
As the game wore towards it’s conclusion Town attempted to fashion a bit more in the way of attacking but in the end had only a scramble inside the box, and a half chance from Peacock which cleared the bar by a distance to show for their endeavours.
Three minutes of added time saw no real opportunities for either side and the game ended in stalemate.
FINAL SCORE: Gateshead 0 Grimsby Town 0
There were very few positives to take from the game. The most obvious one was that Town stopped the rot after the disappointment of the last two games. The fact remains however that Gateshead were very poor. Unlike the other less fashionable teams Town have come up against Gateshead didn't press the Mariners to any degree as was clear from the amount of space available. For parts, particularly the early second half, as Town got the ball down and wide it was possible to see Neil Woods ideas being played out. It will not have escaped the notice of the managers increasing band of detractors that Town, once again, created very little goal scoring threat.The charitable view amongst the Town fans was that Wood must have been injured or unwell. Whatever the reason for his substitution, Town were not the same after he went off and could have been punished by a side with more acumen.
Man of the Match: A 0-0 draw doesn't suggest that there were many outstanding candidates. Defensively Town were, bar one or two scares basically sound so my vote goes to Steven Watt for a good display of defensive play.
Saturday sees Town travel to bottom of the league Altrincham. A repeat of tonight’s performance especially in the attacking third of the field may see the aforementioned voices of disapproval grow significantly in volume.
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