Question of the WeekWhere will Grimsby be in 5 years time??
The Flat Pack Collective
By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 02/03/2019 (Last updated: 03/03/2019)
IN the corresponding fixture at Cambridge in November, it was a case of which team was going to drag themselves temporarily out of the mire. Cambridge won a dour struggle that day, since when the roles have been reversed. Apart from a poor run in January, Town's results have been impressive.
Moreover, the team has shown character and with a couple of astute signings, there seem to be more options and more confidence. Relegation seems not to be an issue as we look to press on and win more matches. I sense that this manager and this team aren't going to just accept that we've avoided relegation and let the season fizzle out. Let's see.
Town's line-up on this blustery day was: McKeown - Hendrie, Hall-Johnson, Davis, Collins, Ring - Hessnthaler, Clifton, Embleton - Dennis, Thomas. Town attacked the Osmond end for the first half.
Not much happened at the beginning as neither side imposed themselves. This possibly may account for Ian alongside me enigmatically comparing recent Grimsby performances to his mint and liquorice tea - very nice with its contrast in flavours, apparently. There was an encouraging moment when Hendrie burst forward, while Hessenthaler dropped back to cover at right back. Town looked as if they were well drilled, and grew into the game as Cambridge already looked tired and leg weary. On 13 minutes Town won a corner from a Clifton cross with Thomas lurking behind the defender. Five minutes later a good run from Hall-Johnson found Dennis who latched on to the ball and forced a straightforward save. Dennis then showed his predatory instinct when receiving a ball from Clifton, but overall quality was lacking in Town's play. Cambridge did nothing until the 25th minute when in a rare attack Amoo wriggled clear in the box with just McKeown to beat. Town's keeper stood up and saved Amoo's shot before the ball was scrambled clear. This was a fortunate escape. Town showed intent but as the game progressed in pedestrian fashion, the conversation in Main Stand row K moved off the subject of football, as Andy, Ian and I discussed bus passes, prescriptions, bowel testing and orifices. Speaking of which, Town continued to be unsuccessful at penetrating Cambridge's dogged defence. Moves weren't coming off and Cambridge were pretending to be a football team. This was a spectacle without quality. By this stage Town had gone off the boil after earlier promise, and on 40 minutes Collins cleared Town's defensive lines with a header after a cross into the box. Cambridge were slowly and even more slowly being allowed to creep into the game and won a free kick on the left inside Town's half. Maris's hit a high cross to a packed box. Taft rose above all the Town players and glided his header into the top right corner. Town 0, Cambridge 1. The score remained the same at half time. Cambridge had been workmanlike and direct, but Town had been lightweight and had given Mitov in the Cambridge goal very little to do. Town's performance was lacklustre. “We got what we deserved”, commented a spectator behind me.
All that was remarkable about the start of the second half was that Cambridge continued to lumber around and defended solidly. Town lacked skill and pace, both useful ingredients. Embleton had a little run on 53 minutes but was pushed wide and had no support. Poor decisions continually led Town players to pass into packs of Cambridge players. The support play was invisible, and the control was poor. It was Town's players who now looked tired and short of ideas. 60 minutes had passed but there was no change. Had Mr Jolley fallen asleep? Maris had a shot for Cambridge, which was way off the mark, then Clifton was pulled down by Deegan, who was booked. This revealed another Town inadequacy. Every set piece was woeful and the free kick following the foul on Clifton now led to a Cambridge breakout. Hall-Johnson then lost control of the ball but retrieved the situation in Town's box to deny Maris. Town's players showed signs of being rattled and distracted, as Davis and McKeown argued violently with the linesman over an offside that wasn't given. Cambridge meanwhile were doing a professional job, keeping the ball and making their presence felt on the pitch. The skies darkened. Town's performance was going downhill. There was a ray of hope on 66 minutes when Hall-Johnson went on a mazy run and was tripped outside the Cambridge penalty box, but Embleton's curled effort missed the goal to the right. Cook replaced Clifton, and briefly, Town played with fluidity and greater determination. Hendrie won a corner on the right on 74 minutes but still Town were failing to create any goal scoring opportunities. Ring pushed the ball in following the corner but it escaped everyone. Vernam replaced Embleton on 78 minutes, but this was by now simply a gesture as Town seemed to have less and less of the ball as Cambridge closed the game down and dominated the play. It came as no surprise then when Cambridge broke away on 81 minutes. Hepburn-Murphy, who had come on midway through the half, showed great pace and broke clear of Town's defenders, who looked as if they had lead weights on their legs. McKeown came out to narrow the angle but Hepburn-Murphy's finish was as impressive as his run as he blasted his shot low into the left hand corner, sending the 165 Cambridge supporters into raptures. Town 0, Cambridge 2. Cardwell replaced Hall-Johnson on 82 minutes, although what this was going to achieve was anyone's guess. On 87 minutes Cambridge broke clear again, with Hepburn-Murphy supplying Coulson, who fortunately for Town, directed his shot wide of the post. Four minutes were added, but most of the 4772 spectators had left already, having had enough. On 91 minutes Cook ballooned a shot into the Pontoon stand, summing up Town's inept performance. So the game ended: Grimsby Town 0, Cambridge United 2.
We can have no complaints. Town posed no threat whatsoever as a result of our own lack of creativity, control and composure on the ball, and Cambridge's determination and professionalism. Mr Jolley and his men can be forgiven for this under the weather performance after the string of recent results. But, like the weather, it was grim and bleak today. We may only have had only half of our Swedish contingent in the team today, but that made no difference. Today Town were just one collective flat pack.
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