League Two Table
Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Trevor Hewson
UP until last nigh the most significant thing about Kettering for Mariners everywhere was that it was from there, His Holiness Alan Buckley came to Blundell Park all those years ago. An animated, self opinionated football genius, of the same mould, many on the Fishy were suggesting we need to replace our current incumbent with.
Mr Woods has seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders since the debacle on Saturday. As I parked up, Neil was giving a very honest and open radio interview, and it really did seem that another loss and poor performance would see the end of his career as manager. We would soon see.
As the teams came out it took a few seconds to register just who the mystery No.39 was; blimey, it's Robbie Stockdale! Now Robbie was a fine player, but what a gamble after more than a year to play him in such a crucial game. Other changes were made from Saturday, with the upfronter spot going to Lee Peacock, who I personally hoped would prove his worth to those fans yet to be convinced as to his value to the team.
It was good to see Town attacking the Osmond in the 1st half, but it was the visitors who made the first impression on the game. A sloppy pass that was never going to reach Peacock, was intercepted by Flanagan who was allowed through a parting midfield and then defence, neither of whom looked likely to put a tackle in, and as he reached the edge of the Town area, he smashed a fine shot into the Pontoon net. He celebrated in such a cocky way in front of the home fans that you wonder if the wrist bandage was worn as a result of excessive onanism.
The goal clearly rattled Town and a real sense of despair filled Blundell Park. The next twenty minutes or so reflected this nervousness. Town struggled to get going at all, passes went astray, tackles were shirked and the game had all the hallmarks of continuing the poor run of form. Bore in particular seemed to be finding it difficult to get going, hampered in no small part by having two defenders on him every time he had the ball. As the half drew on, though town started to impose them selves a little more, a neat bit of skill from Connell created an opportunity which was well defended, as was the rebound which fell to Peacock. Connell had another chance from a free-kick which rattled the bar with the Kettering 'keeper nowhere. Cummins also had a shot well blocked. At the other end, the visitors also had their chances, good work down their right led to a ball being pulled back across the box, which really should have been converted. Then a mix-up between Kempson and Arthur let a striker, after a decent initial save the ball again cam to a Kettering player whose shot smashed against the post. I was unsure if Arthur got a touch on this shot, but if he did, it was a very good save. Then at the death of the half Town were level. A corner was sent deep into the Kettering six yard box, the 'keeper came for it and should have really got it, he didn't , and Atkinson was on the spot to head home an equaliser that you sensed was never going to come. Good time to score too as it meant that the crescendo of boos that would have greeted the half time whistle did not materialise.
The goal obviously gave Town heart and coupled with what you imagine was a challenging talk from the manager, they started the second period with a good bit more intensity. This manifested itself in pressure rather than clear chances for Grimsby players. however chances did come courtesy of the Kettering defence. Firstly Halstead made an outstanding save after a deflection sent the ball flying towards his right, then the gargantuan Roper sliced a cross inches over the bar. At this stage it was pretty much all Town, and this pressure was duly rewarded when a super cross-field ball from the increasingly influential Bore found Peacock, who controlled it well before rolling a perfect ball into the path of Eagle who thundered the ball into the roof of the Pontoon goal. One of many classy goals we have seen from the Mariners in the last month. A quick response from the Poppies saw a free-kick in a dangerous position wasted. However with fifteen minutes remaining, the game was turned on its head again, Peacock and Solkhon slid in for a loose ball in front of the Findus stand, and whilst it did look as if Peacock won the ball, he won it two footed. As Solkhon rolled about in seeming agony, a red card was produced and Peacock walked. From my viewpoint it seemed harsh if understandable. The particularly shameful part of all this was hoe Solkhon played his part. As soon as the card was issued he hopped up and went to the sideline for 'treatment', before sprinting back into the action as if nothing had happened. Very poor! This sense of injustice was compounded when Roper went straight through Connell from behind in a similarly dangerous way, yet was only cautioned. Maybe the ref was worried Roper would sit on him if he sent him off. Stockdale, Sinclair and Cummins were replaced by Watt, Leary and Hudson respectively, with Leary in particular looking a different player to the one that we all saw last season. Town ran the clock down in an efficient manner and came out worthy winner of a tense but enthralling game.
The loss of Peacock for Saturday may well be crucial, but other than that many good things came out of the match, none more so than the teams willingness to battle for each other and for the manager in a time of adversity. The challenge is to perform like this in a consistent manner. Come on lads, we know you can do it, we all want you to do it, now bloody well go out and do so.
Man of the Match
There were a few contenders, Robbie Stockdale came very close for hauling himself back into the first team after so long away and not looking at all out of place. Peacock showed what he brings to the team with his thoughtful play, summed up by his pass for the winner. I'm not sure I agree with the sponsor's choice of Bore, even if he did have a much better 2nd half, his effort was highlighted by a lack of desire to close down a defender when we were down to ten men, leaving this for Connell to do who was twenty yards further back. Wood was his usual self, grafting all game and Eagle scored a fine, first home goal. However my MOM was Atkinson, he threw himself in front of everything, scored a crucial goal and generally showed the class we know he has. One tackle towards the end typified this, an attacker was clear away from him and into the penalty area, when Atkinson dived towards the ball, a mistake would have been another red card and a penalty, however he picked off the ball perfectly and cleared the danger.
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