Was hoping for blood splattered all over the walls of Kenilworth Road this afternoon( whose, not really bothered about) after the aftermath of the team’s own Sport Relief tribute in Gloucestershire on Tuesday. Hand Relief. But sadly there was none. Until we get a manager who is respected rather than popular and players who put the effort in game in, game out not dependant whether they fancy it or not, things are not going to improve a huge deal over the medium/long term.
Once again we were unable to hold a lead thanks to another poor decison by a senior player, who is far better than that. Pilkington backing off Mason-Hughes, allowing him to progress into the box, the Grimsby sub could improve the angle and scuff his shot into the corner, to net the Mariners a point their negative, miserable performance barely deserved. Not helped to be fair, the fact that Kovacs who had been rendered increasingly immobile, following an injury( possibly tweaking a msucle beneath his knee)late in the first half, which he over stretched from a counter attack from Grimsby’s corner. As crucial as Kovacs is, asking a bit much to play on one leg. Finally Blackett came on not for Kovacs but Willmott. Oh blimey, I give up.
Grimsby not in the game until the introduction of two subs ( until we scored, they were happy with a 0-0 draw. How wonderfully tedious of them, when we are there for taking with our current form) Elding and Mason-Hughes had done nothing. If the game had gone for another ten minutes, they probably would have nicked it, which would have been a travesty on the balance of play.
We were the better of two average sides in a typical huff and puff Conference game ran by a clueless referee. Plenty of fouls conceded, however Disley(4), Wright (3), Poku (3), made fouls which were borderline bookable, all ignored, but Tyler booked for protesting after Disley jumped at Kovacs rather the ball. It’s madness. The best skill was shown in the kids match at half time, some very good players on display in that game. Actually, that is harsh, we were OK, they were dire. Obviously a huge improvement on Tuesday. But the fact that either side still has a chance of getting promotion, says everything you need to know about the general paucity of class in this negative, charmless, boring League. The main positive of the performance, was of the debut of Andre Gray. Deserved his goal, because of his work rate. Some of his new colleagues would do well to match it. He’s raw, probably in an ideal world you would bring him on gradually, improving his positional sense and first touch, in view on giving him more opportunities next season. It’s good he comes here with something to prove after being booted by Shrewsbury, as long as players put in an effort, will support them all the way, it’s the one who turn up and do little to earn their money, I despair of.
In the first half, Gray had to do double the work, as a speck of dust would have been an improvement on Daniel Crow’s all action display. Even when an open goal was there, he slipped after McKeown spillled Lawless’ side foot. At least this week, surely has seen the death knell of a number of these players come the Summer.
It was similar to a number of home games this season. Opposition on a damage limitation exercise, our bulid up was decent, but in open play we didn’t create much, nor was McKeown forced into doing anything flash to defend his goal.
Three changes today. To be honest, overjoyed to see the back of O’Connor and Fleetwood after Tuesday. Fleetwood is probably our best striker after AMS, but he flatters to deceive but am very bored of his petulance. Although looked very lively in his brief cameo ( coming off the bench seems to suit him)not happy that Lawless stayed in the side. He wasn’t bad today. However he has ability, but hasn’t done nearly enough this season and his effort put in at Forest Green, was bordering on gross professional misconduct. Lawless and Fleetwood have the ability in this shocking division to cruise past teams, but too often have been a let down.
Trouble is whatever team Brabin selects, for my money, it contains more cons than pros. Back to 4-4-2, which is odd as I swear I read Brabin said no team has got promoted playing 4-4-2. More to the point has any team ever got promoted playing one central striker whio isn’t mobile?Still don’t think we will get far playing it, either to be honest. Taylor, and on a good day Willmott we don’t have enough quality out wide. The same back five who played at FGR, Lawless on the right, Poku and Keane in the middle, Willmott on the left. Crow and Gray a height disadvantaged strike pairing. The midfield looked combative but lacking creavity. Looked like a team picked not to lose. One good thing was we did keep it to feet, would have done more so when Tyler looked to throw the ball out, but Willmott made runs forward rather than dropping deep to start an attack.
Grimsby. Looked as abject as they did during the reverse game up there in October. Their long unbeaten run looks good, but like our similar run earlier, such is the standard in the league, teams can go on these runs, without being anything more than moderate. They are a physical team , which with weak officials you can get away with. Produced nothing in the final third until the later stages. Well organised but medicore. Maybe they were confused by that yellow round thing in the sky, must be odd for them to be at a place which doesn’t have bordered up shops or have a delighful aroma of unwashed genitalia.
We started well, but we always need to nick a goal in the first twenty minutes otherwise we start to peter out. The tempo was decent. Godfrey getting stuck in, at first keeping it simple, then got carried away by attempting to knock long passes. Whatever the limitataions in their games of both Poku and Gray, they both gave it their best shot. Although Godfrey being named MOTM was miles of the mark.
We started OK, against a deep sitting defence. But again we bossed the play, Grimsby were hardly hanging on. A Lawless header blocked by Disley and a poor pass by Poku evaded Wood, allowing Keane to smuggle forward and take aim. His strike looked to be heading just wide, but McKeown pushed it wide to be on the safe side.
We managed to get the ball into Gray’s feet, he shielded it well despite the close attentions. Maybe tactical, but neither full back got forward much. Without Taylor, we do miss his power, pace and drive from wide areas.
We continued to have the lion’s share of the play, but struggled to get behind them and create much. However our football was of a reasonable standard. Grimsby’s plan looked like shut up shop and maybe nick a goal from a set piece. Their two forwards, Duffy and Coulson received nothing. Playing a narrow midfield comprising Disney, Wood and Wright all of whom get their foot in, there was a ‘Dogs of War’ approach to their tedious game plan.
Howells, found from Poku’s early knock to the wing, soared a decent ball towards Gray produced a faint touch which defeated Crow. Disley grounding Keane yet again, without a yellow card shown, on the right. Willmott smashed a near perfect centre, which Kovacs met and found the bar. It would have been ruled out as Pearson had been shoved. Ironic as Pearson had been taking a piggy back on Kovacs all game.
We did start to fade, but in that half we didnt lose control. Lawless and Crow did link up to set Keane to nail a well struck low shoot, McKeown dealt with it to his left. We could isolate Willmott often enough against the relatively slow Silk.
Pearson, off balance, couldnt direct a header from Winn’s free kick. That apart, Wright’s wayward shot and Disney’s header, after Wood had been given too much room down the right flank. Tyler saved the header with ease. That the sum total of the Mariners attempt to catch something in our net.
Final ball continues to be a source of frustation. Clever reverse pass by Lawless, Osano drove forward but was crowed out, Gray headed over Howells’ centre. Then Howells playing a one two with Willmott, continued his run into the box, but poked a shot at Pearson. Lawless flicking a tame side foot at Willmott’s pass, McKeown could only help the ball away, whilst still on the deck, all Crow had to do was stay on his feet for a tap in. Oh.
Was going to say was surprised Crow wasnt replaced at half time. But nothing does now at our club, just dismayes and depresses. Crow did improve slightly after the break. But it’s rare for a player to contribute so little yet remain on the park.
With Fleetwood, McAllister and Watkins there were options avaliable. Whilst we werent bad, we needed more to break them down.Grimsby, brave lickle soliders , even pushed forward once or twice. Duffy penlaiswed for a puish on Pilkington after Winn hooked the ball across, then Wright clumped a header over from Coulson’s right wing centre.
Obce again, although Gray was giving the midfielders options to hit with his movement, we didn’t really look thratending exccept for pot shots from outisdethe box or at set pieces, with McKeown looking vulernable apparently glued to his line.
Grimsby looked to break up play conceding a number of fouls, if the referee had eys which worked, a lot more would have followed. Wright allowed to go through the backof Gray, again no caution. Lawless’ strike swerved in the air but was claimed by the keeper, then after a quick throw in Crow fed Keane, but a weak shot wasn’t troubling anyone.
The game looked to be fizzling out, even with half an hour to play. Grimsby happy with a point. Then we scored from a corner, which given their size Grimsby didn’t cope particularly well at defending all afternoon, Willmott’s ball played into the centre of teh goalmouth, McKeown panicked and flapped the ball away, kleane picked up the loose ball, drived in a cross/shot which Gray turned back to goal and volley ed in from close range, taking it off Kovacs’s forehead. Excellent strike.
But thyis is where the problems started. With all confidence gone, we looked to sit on a 1-0 lead, playing into Grimsby’s ahnds, who finally had to chase the game,made three subs- all positive changes, Soares a winger and two strikers in Elding and Mason-Hughes giving strength and pace to their game, looked a different side, with a aerial threat. Brabin was far too slow too react to this.
A long ball dropped to Crow laid across to Lawless, his effort neither a shot or a cross, as Willmott unable to get onto it.
We struggled to cope with Elding’s physicality, would have been nice for the officials to spot even occassionally to see he jumped with his arms up every time. . Gray’s lob was helped away by McKeown under his bar, Pilkington recycled the ball back intelligently for Keane to stretch and the keeper made another save. From the attempted throw out, Crow did very well to chase down Silk and win the ball back, , he tried a lob over which not easy, should have done better than send the ball drifting wide.
With Lawless dropping deeper, to protect Osano, Townsend was allowed to get forward and put some good deliveries in, although Soares produced a great pass to give Mason-Hughes a chance to run at Pilkington, this time Pilkiington stood his ground and Mason-Hughes lashed wide, not given the space.
With Kovacs doing well, but noticeably struggling against Elding and the effects of his injury, Blacklett came but for Willmott, with Howells. We were tiring ( quite how as we forfeited the game on Tuesday), and it was obvious we needed fresh legs. Fleetwood, always better with a point to prove otherwise he is in the comfort zone or Watkins, his ability to push a clever pass could maybe have opened a gap or two in Grimsby’s defence, as they pushed forward.
We did have the odd opportunity on the break, Lawless broke down the left, Howells overlapped, but it was a woeful cross too high for Gray. The somewhatinevitable leveller came from a long ball won by Elding to the isolated Mason-Hughes running forward, Pilkington backpedalling ( in a manner Gleeson would have been proud), ended up opening up the angle, and Mason-Hughes got enough on the ball to divert it past Tyler .
Naturally the goal brought away the change Fleetwood/ Howells. We almost lost it at the end, corner repelled, fell to Poku, caught in two minds( either shoot or pass), in the event did neither, as Elding robbed him with ease, forward pass into their left channel to Mason-Hughes, with Lawless back-tracking and taking one for the teamhauling down mason-Hughes. Some referees would have shown a red card. With a good angle, just outside the box, Townsend on his left foot, took a superb free kick, which produced another equalling splended finger tip save by Tyler. For a goal kick.
The match ended, with the not unexpected cries of Brabin Out, whilst the players who have let the club down equally to blame walk off to a round of applause. Very few have come out of the season in credit. If the nightmare at FGR was not enough for him to lose his job, a draw with fellow play off contenders wouldn’t either. Logically anyway. A witch hunt isn’t really going to help matters either.
In the cold light of day, a draw today isn’t the end of the world, after the two difficult matches against York and at Gateshead, we have a run of four games againt Braintree, Alfreton, Hayes, Ebbsfleet, if we can’t get a decent number of points from those games, when a play off spot is up for grabs, we frankly don’t deserve to qualify for the foul end of season bunfight.
Mark Tyler 6.5 , Curtis Osano 6, Janos Kovacs 7.25, George Pilkington 6.25, Jake Howells 6.25(Stuart Fleetwood), Alex Lawless 6.25, Keith Keane 7.5, Godfrey Poku 6.75 ,Robbie Willmott 6.25(Shane Blackett), Danny Crow 5, Andre Gray 8. Subs not used – Craig McAllister, Andre Boucaud, Adam Watkins. Booked – Lawless, Tyler
Grimsby – McKeown, Silk, Pearson, Miller, Townsend, Wood( Mason-Hughes), Wright, Disley, Winn ( Elding), Duffy(Soares), Coulson. Booked – Disley, Wood.
*THE DISCLAIMER* The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments are about the return to the ranks of Lil Fuccillo, when I first heard the news that great he will improve our midfield no end, but alas he returns in a made up role. On the good side, the Board havehave honestly admitted they are clueless on the football side. But would have preferred a non former Luton player being involved. He may be very experienced, but it includes spells working with that gobby navvy Barry Fry, and whilst only had rubbish to work with during his short spell thanks to Ricky Hill and the woefully inept Chris Ramsey . The names of Richard Dryden, Adrian Whitbread and Lee Nogan didn’t exactly improve matters. If it’s a link between the board and the playing staff as was reported in the midst of the dreadful business slang, then have no problems with his appointment, but wouldn’t want him to be manager again.