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Bristol Rovers 1 Grimsby 0
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY once again failed to put in a convincing performance, going down 1-0 to Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground - and it could have been more with Town still looking far from solid at the back.
Graham Rodger dropped Peter Beagrie, bringing in Ciaran Toner in midfield. Rankin was pushed up front as the left-sided striker in a three man attack. The teams ran out to the theme music from The A Team on a sunny day with a steady breeze.
Town's defensive frailties were evident as early as the 8th minute when the ball was given away to Igoe, who looked to have more time than he used, and his shot flashed wide.
Michael Reddy was Town's dangerman in the first period, taking players on and creating chances, and Town looked to get the ball to him whenever they could. A quick free kick by Rankin inventively put Reddy through, but his shot was well saved by the 'keeper.
The other no. 9, Agogo, was Rovers' most dangerous looking player, and he was given the space to get several long range shots in that went narrowly wide or high.
Towards the end of the half a goal-bound shot by Rankin took a deflection and went wide.
Rovers shaded the first half and looked more likely to score for the simple reason they threatened the goal more. Town were awarded several free kicks in dangerous positions but Newey failed to deliver a decent ball on every occasion.
Half Time: Rovers 1 Grimsby 0
After the break Town were second best and Michael Reddy failed to have the impact of the first 45 minutes.
Almost straight away Futcher made a fortuitous interception of a ball destined for a goal and Town managed to clear it for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Rovers went one better and scored. Sandel received the ball, looking miles offside, and while the defence stood and waited for the linesman to raise his flag the midfielder went on and scored. Barnes was booked for protesting about the decision. It was similar to the first goal of the season by Boston.
Town never really looked like getting back into the game and Rovers if anything appeared more likely to extend their lead than the prospect of a Grimsby equaliser.
That said, the ref chose to ignore a blatant hand ball that looked inside the penalty area and once again promising set pieces game to nought. Futcher clattered into Disley, the ref gave nothing, and Futcher's claim that he had dived looked a little disingenuous when the midfielder was stretchered off never to return.
Bore came on for Rankin, and looked promising, never once wasting the ball when he had it. Beagrie came on for the last few minutes and showed Newey how to take a free kick, blasting his attempt over the bar in the last minute of injury time, rather than lamely into the wall.
Town are far from the force they were last season. The loss of Steve Mildenhall (Slade's most important signing) and Rob Jones have ripped the heart from our back five, and of those replacements which have been provided so far they are not of the same quality. Even last season's strength (set pieces) have become almost Buckley-esque in their impotence.
Graham Rodger has so few options to change anything (other than the style of play or formation) that it's hard to see anything than a minimum of at least two new faces needed before we can even think about knocking on the door of the play-offs. It's early days yet but as things stand the Mariners look a mid-table outfit at best.
MOM: Michael Reddy. Did nothing in the second half but had a good 45 minutes, which can't be said of many of the players.
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