Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Pride of Lincolnshire
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY won part one of El Lincolnshire Classico, coming from behind the beat bitter rivals City on their own patch, and send 1800 supporters home in a state of near delerium. But it looked like Town would be heading home with nothing after a poor first half which they deservedly trailed in at the break.
However the Town management duo deserve credit for a half time substition which paid immedidate dividends. The front two had been too isolated from the rest of the team in the first 45 minutes, but the introduction of Frankie Artus for McCarthy plus whatever instructions were given in the dressing room during the interval made the difference and Grimsby looked the much sharper of the two sides in the second period.
The ironic thing is Town's first goalscorer Scott Garner, who had several good chances from set pieces, was only on the pitch because of an early injury to Charlie l'Anson. The second goal though was a vintage tap in from Liam Hearn, racing onto a long ball from midfield by Panther, and slotting it past the 'keeper in a one in one. Hearn then presented a similar opportunity to Elding, but his strike partner skied the ball high into the stands as it took a bobble just before he pulled the trigger.
The only change to the side at the start of the game was Pearson replacing Antwi, but Town soon had a completely new central defence when l'Anson was injured in a early incident. Seconds prior to his injury Lincoln looked to have a good penalty shout when Wood brought down Power, but the referee waved away the appeals and Grimsby had to bring on two phyios to treat two fallen defenders. L'Anson looked in some pain when he first went down clutching what looked like his ankle. He attemped to play on, but limped off a few minutes later having failed to run it off.
How much the defensive changes unsettled Town is open to debate, but Lincoln looked the much sharper side in the early play. McKeown had to make an excellent save from a free kick. The Town 'keeper must have seen the ball late but dived low to his left to turn it round the post.
Town did though to be fair have some chances, despite them looking second best. Panther missed a free header from a corner and then the same player missed the ball completely when he was pushed off it following an excellent run and pull back by Hearn.
Lincoln took the lead when Platt was allowed to run at the Town defence on 33 minutes. The defence backed off and two of the defenders seemed to lunge it at the player at the same time and if anything get in each other's way. Platt hurdled the challenge and then drilled it past McKeown to give the Imps the lead.
Town's best effort of the remainder of the first half was a Elding header which looped towards the back post, but didn't have the power or the direction to come close to scoring.
Town had defended deeply in the first half and the gap between the midfield and the front two was too great for Town's dangerous front men to get more than the odd chance.
Town came out at the second half a couple of minutes before the Lincoln side and looked like they meant business in the second half. Artus immediately was introduced in place of McCarthy in a straight swap on the left wing.
Town won a corner early in the second half and Coulson whipped it in to Garner on the near post who headed it from point blank range into the roof of the net. Lincoln will no doubt find fault with the defending, but Grimsby are now starting to take chances from corners, which was lacking from their play in the early part of the season.
Lincoln almost went ahead straight away again when Gowling struck a perfectly hit shot that looked goal bound, but by chance hit a Town defender and was deflected away for a corner.
Town almost went ahead with a similar chance fell to Garner, except it was a free kick rather than a corner. The delivery from Coulson once more picked out the big centre back on the far post, but this time Garner's header went over the bar.
Then Town did take the lead. A ball from midfield by Panther split the Lincoln defence and Hearn expertly slotted it past Farman as on so many other occasions this season. A group of Lincoln's supporters then attemped to break the barrier down between the fans and take on the 1800 Town contigent. Their chances wouldn't have been favourable though as they failed to negotiate half a dozen security personnell who formed the first barrier, and most of them ended up leaving the ground in the arms of the police.
Elding then should have made it three with his chance, but Grimsby didn't manage to get a two goal cushion. The unfortunate Edling then hit the bar from yet another corner where they threatened.
Lincoln managed a late flurry of sorts and Town had to defend solidly and survive five minutes of injury time (making it a total of 8 for the match).
But in the end the ref blew his whistle and the Mariners ended deserved winners.
It was a good second half display by Town who have seemingly addressed at least some of the problems of the early season, not least the set piece delivery. All season we have been winning a lot of free kicks and corners but never making much of them until recently. Pearson was impressive in the back four, as was Garner when he came on. McKeown made a couple of key saves when he had to. Town struggled in midfield in the first half, with Panther in particular playing some poor balls losing a lot of 50-50 challenges. Things improved in the second half, and Town got Hearn and Elding a lot more involved in the game.
Finally the Town fans were superb and it's games like this that remind you why you go to football. This was up there for atmosphere with the best of recent years that I've been to - Notts Co away, Barnet home and the Lincoln play-off games. It's also a reminder of what we're missing by not being in the Football League where we always used to have at least a few games a season that mean more then just 3 points. At least with Lincoln down here with us there are two games a year which mean something beyond its contribution to the final table. And the next is on New Year's Day against City and Blundell Park, a must see game if you can get to it.
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