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Town Silence the Lambs
By: Rob Sedgwick
ALAN Connell got Grimsby out of jail this afternoon in the FA Cup tie at Tamworth. Town's leading scorer grabbed an injury time winner to keep the Mariners in the draw for the First Round, but the truth is it was undeserved in a match they should have lost.
Only veteran Goalkeeping Coach Steve Croudson kept the scoreline respectable in yet another near-flawless display between the sticks. Croudson made half a dozen saves, chiefly in the second half, two of three of them from the very top drawer.
Town in contrast barely tested the 'keeper all game and they will have to perform far better in Tuesday's replay if they are to progress to the first round proper - and beyond.
Neil Woods started with a 4-3-3 formation with several changes both in personnel and position. The team lined up as follows:
Wood, Garner, Atkinson, Ridley
Cummins, Peacock, Hudson
Connell, Corner, Bore
Connell set up Corner for a good early chance, but he snatched at his shot and it ended up hitting some Town fans behind the goal.
After Town had the better of the opening ten minutes, Tamworth gradually came into the game, with MacKenzie going close on a couple of occasions.
Town came closest to scoring in the first half when striker Peter Bore found himself some space on the edge of the box and turned and shot. His strike took a deflection off a defender, which deflected it narrowly past the post. From the resulting corner Garner's effort sailed just over the bar.
Hudson slipped at a critical moment, and presented the ball once again to MacKenzie, who shot wide when he should have done better.
Bradley Wood was getting regularly turned by Thomas, and he was booked on 37 minutes for bringing the diminutive Tamworth winger down.
Croudson made the first of his saves with 5 minutes remaining in the first half, tipping over a shot from Lake-Gaskin. From the ensuing corner Town scrambled it clear off Wood, but only just.
The first half had not been impressive. Grimsby had created very little. The front three did not look to present any more threat than the normal 4-4-2. Corner was winning very little in the air, and despite his height, does not really look like he fits the target man role. The midfield once again were losing the battle in the main and Town were struggling with the pace of Thomas down the wing. Things could only get better....
Corner did have an early chance in the second half, but his effort was palmed round the post by the 'keeper. From the resulting corner Peacock struck the ball well on the volley, but unfortunately it went straight at the 'keeper.
These moments early in the second half were almost Town's last chances of normal time as the Mariners just went downhill from hereon in. Firstly Cummins gave the ball away, and a point blank save from Croudson was needed to save the day. Shortly afterwards there was a horrific backpass by a Town defender from which Tamworth looked certain to score but a combination of Croudson and some last gasp defending saved the day.
Bore made a great run and crossed the ball to Corner, whose header was blocked. From the rebound Hudson hit the side netting.
Croudson had to make two more saves, before Woods changed things, with Eagle and Coulson coming on and Town going back to 4-4-2.
The change did not pay off as Town conceded not long after it. MacKenzie latched on to a loose ball around the edge of the box on 72 mins and shot through a crowd of players to give Croudson no chance.
Town now have gone from three up front to two but needed now to score to stay in the tie, so the change had worsened things if anything.
With Croudson once again being called upon to save Town, there looked only one side likely to score the game's second goal and it wasn't the one playing in blue. Grimsby won several corners but time and again were unable to get the ball even past the first defender.
With many Town fans drifting away, thoughts were turning towards the pressure Neil Woods was now under. Suddenly though out of the blue Tamworth failed to deal with a Town throw-in and it allowed Bore to find Connell in the six yard box. Somehow he got something on it and nicked it in from close range to level the match just as four minutes injury time was being called.
It was thoroughly undeserved, but let's hope that it can provide some sort of platform to build on, to use the vague manager-speak which prevails in post-match interviews. Certainly almost every away supporter left the ground with a smile on their face after 80 mins of frowning.
Steve Croudson aside Town ranged from average to awful. The set pieces were poor, they won nothing in the air, and a very small percentage of second balls. The midfield were overrun with both three and four players. Playing three up front did not work as the central player Corner did not lead the line and win enough in the air to provide a release. Now Ademeno would be perfect in that role from the little I have seen of him. Both full backs were beaten by the Tamworth wingers, especially Wood, the centre backs were a bit better, but overall confidence looked very low and too many players just didn't seem to want the ball in the first place!
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