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Square Trek: Episode 7. Forest Green Rovers
By: Ian Townsend
OVER the years I've watched the Mariners in some fairly nondescript surroundings-Nights in Stockport, Macclesfield and Mansfield spring readily to mind. Nondescript is\certainly not a description that could be levelled at the venue for tonight’s encounter between Forest Green Rovers and Grimsby Town.
Nailsworth, hugging the A46 from Bath could have been Tolkein’s inspiration for Hobbiton with Cotswold stone houses\dug out of steep hillsides. It is\hard to imagine a more picturesque setting for professional football with only Brighton’s Withdean Stadium coming close in my experience.
Neil Woods\made one change to the team which comprehensively saw\off Newport on Saturday with the fit again Steven Watt replacing Scott Garner who dropped to the bench.
Town lined up with:
Wood, Kempson, Watt, Ridley
Bore, Wright, Cummins, Eagle
On the bench: Hudson, Garner, Peacock, Samuels, Croudson.
Town began like a team which was enjoying some new found confidence. For the first 10 minutes Town’s upfield pressure ensured that Forest Green were\barely able to get the ball into Town’s half.
From the\start Town began to use the full width of the pitch with some clever passing to both Bore and Eagle. The former might have done better when put down the line by Connell but he once again chose to stop and check and the momentum was lost. With Town’s next attack the Mariners won a free kick and when the ball was played in Watt headed it down to Carlton who unfortunately could only toe poke it into the hands of the keeper.
A flowing move down the left was only ended when Ridley slipped whilst looking to put a cross in. Then another good run and cross by Bore was just too far for the onrushing Carlton, who still looks a yard or two off the pace.
Town were made to pay for this profligacy as, totally against the run of play a "route one" ball, so often Town’s undoing, caught out the back four. O’Donnell was aware and rushed to clear. His full blooded clearance hit Styche with the ball ballooning back over O’Donnell and into an unguarded net to give the home side an unlikely lead.
Town tried to get back some control and Connell, playing quite deep was instrumental in sending Bore away again. This time a strong tackle ended the move and, within a couple of minutes the deficit became two goals. Another route one ball out right saw Ridley "done" for pace with Norwood cutting in to fire an unstoppable shot across O’Donnell to double the home side’s lead.
The goal stunned the Town faithful but hope was partially restored within a minute or so as Bore’s cross resulted in Eagle of all players looping a header goalwards with the keeper stranded. Town went for it but very nearly conceded a third as Ridley was again caught in "no-man’s land". This time the resulting cross just cleared the onrushing Forest Green forwards before going to safety.
The game was becoming "end to end" and Carlton was\ unlucky to see a dipping snap shot just clear the bar.
It was top scorer Connell’s turn to get in on the act as the prolific striker found himself through on Town’s left. He steadied himself but didn't get his angles right and the ball went across goal before harmlessly drifting out for a goal kick.
Forest Green tried to respond and Ridley, who in truth wasn't having his best game in the Town team slipped again. The cross however drifted over the bar.
At the other end a great run by Carlton saw the loanee square the ball where, unfortunately Connell on a great run couldn't steady himself and his first time shot went wide.
As half time approached Ridley, finding his attacker to be "a bit of a handful" was nutmegged but again the cross into Town’s box sailed over the bar.
The half ended with more indecision in the Forest Green box after another great run by Bore. Unfortunately no Town player was able to capitalise and the defender had all the time in the world to chest the ball down and clear to the universal condemnation of the Town faithful massed behind the goal.
HALF TIME: Forest Green Rovers 2 Grimsby Town 1
The second half began with Forest Green trying to press home their advantage. Town were unable to get moving in the same way as in the first half as the home side worked hard to close down the Town wide men.
What was already a bad situation became a whole lot worse in the 50th. Minute as their best move of the match saw the ball cut back from the right where Klukowski had the easiest of tasks to sidefoot the ball home to extend the host’s lead.
Town weren't out of it by any means and another superb run and cross from Bore saw the ball headed goalwards where it was cleared off the line
Neil Woods had seen enough though and Town made a double substitution with Ridley being put out of his misery to make way for Samuels and Carlton being replaced by Peacock as the manager sought a bit more presence in the opposition box.
Within seconds a fabulous 50 yard pass from Watt found Bore in acres\ of space with the Town attack only being thwarted at the expense of a corner. Within a minute Town had reduced the deficit when the ball was cleared from a corner but only as far as Wright who lashed it back into the net through a ruck of players.
The realisation that something could be got from a game which only a few minutes earlier had looked beyond Town spread quickly through the team and within 5 minutes the Mariners were level. Another great cross by Bore was turned into the net by Eagle from close range.
Town now sensed victory and yet another cross from Bore was controlled brilliantly by Connell with his back to goal. He turned well but put his shot too near the keeper.
There were still moments of unease at the back but as the home side tired Town looked the more likely bet for three points.
The fourth official signalled four minutes of added time and both teams appeared to be satisfied with a point apiece. There was still time however for some mild panic in Town’s box from a corner and, with virtually the last kick of the game Bore flashed a cross cum shot just wide.
FINAL SCORE: Forest Green Rovers 3 Grimsby Town 3.
On paper this was one of those games you'd have expected Town to win. The team however are still vulnerable to the kick and rush tactics prevalent in the Blue Square and, until they get fully to grips with it, strange results will remain a fact of their football life.
The side continue to improve in general terms. A month ago, had we gone 3-1 down away from home it would've been difficult to see the sort of come back on show tonight. Three goals away from home is a decent return. Add to that the fact that none of them were scored by Connell and the fears that we are a one man team are lessened.
Man of the Match: Once again only one real contender for me. Step forward Peter Bore. Every attack by Town in the second half seemed to involve him. He seems to have more confidence to take on his man. Most regular Town fans have known for a while that he has the pace and he is now using it to devastating effect.
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