Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
|We are Town!|
By: Andrew Doherty
I was looking at Barnet FC's web site to remind myself which underground station to use when I noticed that they were advertising advance tickets for the Conference play-off finals. This seemed curious because they 're top of the table so therefore if current progress is maintained, they shouldn't need the play-off final as means of reaching Nirvana, or League Two as most people know it.
It also begs the question as to whether the majority of us should pre-book counselling sessions to overcome the season's trauma. Actually, I don't see it that way where Town are concerned. We've not had a fantastic run like Bristol Rovers, Macclesfield or Barnet and we've been inconsistent at home, but inconsistency is to be expected. Otherwise the players would be playing at a higher level. I think we've got a decent squad of players and we 're fourth in the table. So I entered the away end of the Hive, a neat modern ground, with a reasonable degree of optimism. Barnet are top, but we beat them handsomely at BP.
I was surrounded by 900 or so baying Town supporters and countless inflatables, which were here as a protest against Forest Green Rovers, whose stewards decided to headlock a Town supporter for having the audacity to carry such a dangerous object. The inflatables came in all shapes and sizes and styles, of course the statutory inflatable haddocks were present, but the one which caught my eye was an inflatable zimmer frame. Who on earth thought of that one? Is it a best seller, I wonder?
Town played with confidence in the first half, stroking the ball around. Barnet had a couple of free kicks outside Town's box, which came to nothing. Cook darted around on the left for Barnet but Town's defence was resilient and unwilling to offer chances to the Barnet attack. Arnold had an early chance for Town who looked impressive, using their pace and width of the pitch, and winning balls in midfield. Town showed desire. It paid off in the 27th minute when Mackreth picked up on a mistake by Barnet's left back, advanced to the line and crossed for Jolley, who squeezed his shot through a packed defence into the left hand corner. Barnet 0, Town 1. Town continued to press and had a number of chances including a Pearson header and a shot from John-Lewis, but the strategy of long range shots was causing no problem for Barnet's defence.
Just as Town had been first to the ball in the first half, Barnet's players responded after the break by winning everything in midfield. Town lost their shape and cleared desperately as Barnet mounted attack after attack. It came as no surprise when Barnet equalised on 56 minutes, when. The manner Clifford scored with a curling shot from 25 yards out. McKeown got a hand to it but couldn't stop it from going in the top right corner. Barnet continued to dominate and Town seemed unable to regain control of the game. Arnold provided hope and inspiration with a good move up the left side, and not long got his angles wrong after being given a great opportunity to regain the lead after a slotted path from John-Lewis. McKeown made a superb save after a shot from Villa in what would have been a replica of Barnet's first goal.
Equilibrium was now restored and Town went on the attack, winning a free kick about 35 yards out on 89 minutes. But instead of crossing the ball into the box to give Town one last chance, Mackreth laid the ball off to Clay. The attack appeared to have broken down. But Clay fought off the Barnet midfield and found Arnold, who slipped the ball through to Disley who escaped the defence and dinked the ball into the net from a tight angle on the right. Town's fans erupted. The players ran to the crowd. They cared. We celebrated. Barnet 1, Town 2. The game restarted after the inflatables were cleared from the pitch. Barnet's goalkeeper Stack was clearly rattled. Town attacked again as Barnet sought to regain their composure but Stack could only parry John-Lewis's shot, allowing the advancing Pittman to slam the ball low into the net. Barnet 1, Town 3. Time for more celebrations. Game over.
Apart from a shaky spell in the first few minutes of the second half, Town were impressive, playing for each other, fighting and working well as a team unit. No-one epitomised the spirit more than captain Disley. Not only did he score the winning goal but his support play was superb. I recall one moment in the first half when Mackreth found himself surrounded, and had he lost the ball, Barnet could have set up a dangerous attack. But Disley was there behind Mackreth providing support to make sure this didn't happen. The defence was sold with Nsiala and Pearson showing good understanding. Mackreth and Arnold provided the skill while Magnay, Robertson and Clay put in good performances too. Most important of all, this was a great team effort.
So Town's fans could celebrate as we left. “Glory days”, I overheard a fellow supporter say. It's a bit early for that but this will do nicely. The balloons, balls, dolls, haddocks, hammers and maybe the zimmer frame had been burst but after this performance and result we could all leave The Hive with inflated pride in our team.
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