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Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Square Trek: Episode 8. Kidderminster Harriers.
By: Ian Townsend
If Only the Food Was All We Went For.... Those of us with reasonable memories and a keen taste in comestibles (cheesy or otherwise) can recall that Kidderminster provide what must be the very pinnacle of football ground fodder.
On a glorious mid-October afternoon for probably the only time during the day the gourmets masquerading as football fans were not disappointed as a menu ranging from freshly roasted pork sandwiches to a particularly potent smelling chicken thaal curry greeted the hungry post pre-match pint hordes.
Food eaten, and seconds (and in my case thirds) considered all thoughts turned towards events on the pitch and the possibilities of Town having got their mid-week defensive nightmares out of their collective systems.
Neil Woods made only one change from the side which started the game against Forest Green but for reasons as yet unexplained there was no place for Lee Peacock who’d contributed significantly to the teams recovery from two goals down on Thursday.
Lee Ridley was the sacrificial lamb (oh no food again!) as Town lined up with:
Samuels, Kempson, Watt, Wood
Bore, Wright, Cummins, Eagle
A non attacking minded bench contained Garner, Ridley, Hudson, Leary and Croudson.
The Town faithful who had attended in significant numbers once again seemed united in the hope that Town would start with more defensive acumen against a Kidderminster team unbeaten in five games at home which included a 2-0 win against the much praised AFC Wimbledon.
Sadly it took only five minutes for the Mariners to fall into arrears. Indeed they’d had a let off within the first 90 seconds as midfielder Briggs was allowed to advance 20 yards before his eventual shot went just over the bar.
On five minutes there was to be no such reprieve. Watt was hurt in a tackle in the centre circle. Kidderminster moved the ball forward and with a huge gap being created in the Mariners back-line O’ Donnell did well to spread himself to block Morris’s initial shot. Unfortunately for Town the ball fell to McPhee who had the simple task of placing it over the prostrate Town keeper and into the net.
Grimsby quite simply couldn’t get to grips with the game. Hurried passing which found nobody in a black and white shirt meant that Kidderminster were able to press forward their attacks almost at will.
Town weren’t helped when Watt was unable to run off the injury sustained in the build up to the goal and he was replaced by Garner.
A bad start became the stuff of catastrophe on ten minutes as Town conceded a second. Town’s old, old failing of not being able to effectively clear a corner returned with interest and when the ball fell to Blair on the edge of the box he was able to dispatch a fine effort past the static O’ Donnell with a fine finish.
This setback predictably rocked an already disjointed Town team. The normally sound Bradley Wood seemed to lose concentration and only a cynical foul by Kempson (for which he received the first booking of the game) prevented further damage. Within a minute lightning did indeed strike twice as for the first time in my memory Wood was skinned by his opponent who crossed only for Briggs to blast over the bar with the defence all at sea.
Town, for their part were creating virtually nothing. Town fans all around the ground buried their heads in their hands when, on the 25 minute mark a free kick 30 yards from goal was completely wrecked by Eagle who neglected to advise Connell that he intended to pass it short and Kidderminster were able to clear to loud laughter from their fans clearly enjoying the discomfort of the Mariners.
Their joy fortunately proved to be (albeit temporarily) short-lived. A defence mix up in the middle of their half saw the ball eventually find it’s way to Eagle who took a few paces forward before firing an unstoppable shot across the keeper and into the net to give Town hope.
However sadly, (and all to frequently) any hopes of a bit of stability and platform building crashed down when, only three minutes after Eagle’s goal Kidderminster were able to restore their two goal cushion. Another corner, this time from the right was poorly headed away by Garner, flicked on by Morris to Blair who, reacting quickest stooped to head past the exposed O’ Donnell.
Town, for the second time in four days finding themselves two goals down tried to stage a recovery. Connell fired a speculative shot over the bar and then when set up by a decent flick from Carlton elected to shoot first time with the resulting effort narrowly missing the corner flag.
The half ended and Town left the field to the now customary chorus of boos from some of the travelling support.
HALF TIME: Kidderminster Harriers 3 Grimsby Town 1.
There were no changes in personnel at the half way mark but Neil Woods set the scene for a pulsating second period by moving Peter Bore further forward as Town went to a 4-3-3 formation.
The most noticeable change in performance came from Wright who seemed to revel in the extra space available. Within minutes he’d picked up a ball on the edge of the Kidderminster box and fired in a goal-bound shot which was blocked.
Corners came thick and fast as Town upped the pressure. From the second of these Bore tried to jink his way through in the box before unfortunately running out of space.
Carlton was next to show as the loanees clever flick into Connell saw Town’s top scorer unable to direct his header on to goal. It wasn’t long however before Connell had the opportunity to make amends but he appeared to be pushed off the ball as a cross came into the danger area.
Within minutes Connell was there again only to be thwarted this time by a fine finger tip save from Kidderminster keeper Lewis at the expense of yet another corner. One corner led to another from which Garner flicked on to the waiting Kempson at the far post but the big defender couldn’t reach.
Town then got a sharp reminder that they needed to attend to defensive duties. The lively Blair, looking for his hat-trick held off Samuels with some ease before firing in a dipping effort which just cleared O’ Donnell’s bar.
Wright became the third Town player to go into the referee’s book when carded for an off the ball incident which seemed to upset the Kidderminster fans in the side stand.
On 62 minutes Town had the chance to reduce the deficit as Eagle had a free kick 30 yards out but the ball was easily headed away by the Kidderminster defence.
The potential lifeline came on 70 minutes. Another great run and cross from Peter Bore was met perfectly by Alan Connell with his head for an easy finish for 3-2. The travelling Mariners sensed a second "Get Out of Jail Free" card in four days as Town piled on the pressure.
Within a couple of minutes of Connell’s goal Woods replaced Cummins with Hudson and then a minute later the tiring Eagle with Leary as Town "went for it".
Leary was quickly into the action making a couple of decent tackles before bringing Blair down in a dangerous looking spot 20 yards out. The free kick came to nothing though and Town resumed their almost non-stop attack.
A great run and lay off from Connell to Carlton should have resulted in an equaliser but the Town loanees wretched form in front of goal continued with his shot lacking in power easily cleared.
By now Peter Bore was in full flow having switched left. Kidderminster had clearly identified him as the problem and a dreadful tackle from behind on him saw Vaughn booked when he may have been dealt with more severely.
The Town fans were rightly incensed again minutes later when Connell having worked his way into the box was tackled from behind with the referee only feet away deciding that it was indeed possible to get the ball by going through the man.
There then followed the most bizarre event of the afternoon. From a throw in Wright controlled the ball and looked to get an attack moving. The referee running away with his back to Wright saw nothing. The linesman 4 yards away saw nothing. The Kidderminster fans in the side stand deciding that Wright had handled it called handball and the referee gave it. The Kidderminster fans could barely contain their joy as they had an effect on a football match way beyond their dreams.
The game moved into four minutes of time allowed with Town still pushing for a break through. A final flourish saw Hudson with a great chance to equalise but somehow his full blooded shot took the slightest of deflections with the Town fans already up in celebration.
That signalled the end of any notable action and the referee drew the game to a close much to the relief of all associated with Kidderminster.
FINAL SCORE: Kidderminster Harriers 3 Grimsby Town 2.
Town fans were left to reflect on yet another game where they were chasing a game after early abject surrender. Neil Woods will be only too aware that if Town are to get themselves out of this league they have to start playing for a full 90 minutes. Quite how that is achieved is more difficult to put the finger on. Clearly, tinkering with the personnel isn’t the answer. He may wish to reflect that Town only "looked the part" when they went to the more attacking 4-3-3 formation second half. This formation seems to give our obvious attacking skills more room to prosper with Peter Bore in particular relishing the extra ball he sees. It also provides more room for the likes of Wright to get the ball down and play, bringing in the wide players.
Make no mistake Kidderminster were no great shakes. They had three real chances in the first half and took them all. We, on the other hand created at least 4 good chances in the second period alone.
These are difficult times to be involved with Grimsby Town in whatever capacity. Having seen every game thus far I feel that the next month could be season defining with a weight of expectation on the manager’s shoulders.
Another good turnout from Town (319). However, although things were clearly not going well in the first half, some of those behind the goal may well wish to consider the sense of launching into a chant of "What a load of rubbish" some 25 minutes into the game.
Man of the Match:
It is impossible to award a man of the match as quite simply no-one performed in a nightmarish first half.
I would give man of the second half to Wright who controlled the centre of midfield allowing Bore and Eagle to begin a decent line of service to the two front runners
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