League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Kick and Rushden
By: Trevor Hewson
WEDNESDAY night saw my first opportunity to see a game under the stewardship of our new management duo. This was just about the only thing that made watching this dead-rubber of a game worth the effort. As I took my seat in the Upper Findus it seemed many of the good people of Grimsby felt the same, with plenty of room in the stands for anyone who wanted to join the party.
Now for some reason, Rushden have become an annoying little irritant of a side and this continued with their silly tactic of making Town kick-off towards the Pontoon, I guess when you bring 21 fans to an away game it doesn't matter which way you kick towards for the second half. So on what looked like an unusually worn pitch, Town's 4-3-3 got going, playing staff notes included the continued benching of Duffy and Croudson making a start in place of the uninjured Arthur. The football on show was immediately average, with Town's midfield either being bypassed or being too weak to make an impact against robust opponents. The tactic for us seemed to be to try and get the ball to Peacock for Coulson and Connell to pick up any bits. For this to work, the quality of the initial ball needs to be good enough to give the flicker-on a chance of making something of it. However for much of the game, the ball was just lumped forward, with no particular direction or pace. This meant all three of our front players having to chase and chase balls to try and make something out of nothing - hopefully this will not be the sign of things to come.
As the first half progressed, there were a few mildly interesting incidents, and I suppose it is my job to report on them rather than drone on about the lack of quality on show. After about 20 mins, down by the front of the Findus stand, Bradley Wood won a ball against the Rushden No. 2 with a typically solid challenge. The referee did not see a foul, nor did his assistant who was right next to it; the Rushden player took umbrage though and pushed Wood firmly in the chest, but was let off with just a talking to. I was having great difficulty telling Garner and Kempson apart during the early exchanges, although it looked like the former was having a decent game, with one perfectly-timed tackle in particular a flash of the quality we'd been promised when he first signed. It was fortunate for my eyesight then that Kempson kicked the bottom of an opponents boot and ended his own season with a broken foot. This meant the introduction of Rob Atkinson for what seems certain to be one of his last few games for Town and if he wanted to make an impact, he did so almost immediately. He really should have scored with his first touch, but his shot from inside 10 yards was blocked by a defender. His second touch moments later was more decisive and the ball was rammed low into the Pontoon net from a similar distance. This was the first time in 1½ games against Rushden that we'd actually been in front, would it last? Erm no! Shortly after taking the lead, Town conceded a corner from their left; the ball was partially cleared to Shariff on the edge of the area who managed to lob Croudson inside his six-yard box. From where I was sat, it looked a poor goal to concede, but it would be tough to over-criticise Stevie: he's earned the right the odd half mistake. Towards the end of the half, the feistiness bubbled-up again, and for the second time it was a challenge by Wood that got the visitors all hot and bothered. He won a ball at knee height in a solid, but not dangerous way, however half of the Rushden team seemed intent on getting Wood booked, with Miller again pushing the Town full-back. When the mêlée eventually calmed down, Wood and his opponent were both cautioned, when in reality the Rushden play should have been sent off for two pathetic reactions. So the interval came with very little football being seen and only a couple of talking points to keep the 2000 odd fans from nodding off.
Half-time came and almost went with only the Half-time Bonanza draw to talk about. However, those lovely boys from Rushden like to keep us entertained if not through their football, through their crazy interpretation of the Corinthian spirit. So when challenged in what was I'm sure an elegantly Grimsby manner as to their playing style, the Rushden officials decided to have a go back, and whilst I'm sure their dad is bigger than our dad, there was only ever going to be one winner in this Town when people are calling each other nasty names. And so it was that Kevin Nicholls was kindly asked to return to the team bus and stop acting like an utter pillock. Silly boy!
Sadly though this didn't get the second half sparked into any sort of life. I can really only report two incidents of any note in the whole 45mins. The first being a typically rasping shot from Coulson which was arrowing towards the top corner before Evans in the Rushden goal gave hope to little chubby goalkeepers everywhere by smartly tipping the ball over the bar. Then towards the fag end of the game, Connell was picked out with a smart pull back at the edge of the box. He's done so well in that position many times already this season, so it was actually a surprise to see him drag his shot wide of the goal, and with it the game fizzled out to a predictable draw. God it was dull, I really hope that this is just an end of season malaise and that the newbies can sprinkle some of their magic around BP, but on this evidence, they've got a lot to do. The really worrying thing is that I didn't think this was the case under Neil Woods, where I felt we were only two or three players away from challenging. On this performance that number rises to five or six players and another summer of re-building, something we'd all hoped was in the past. We'll see.
Mom, to me was close run thing between Bradley Wood and Scott Garner. To me for all of Bradley's effort and tenacity, there was still a lack of quality in his final ball, and in this formation, the full-backs have to have that quality. In Garner though I was pleasantly surprised, especially after witnessing his efforts at Cambridge. He looked solid, tackled well and seemed pretty vocal. Because of all this he just edges it, so as long as he's sorted his off-field activities, we may just have the player who Woods bought all those months ago, I hope so!
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