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A Grecian Tragedy
By: Andrew Doherty
SATURDAY'S impressive result means that Town's 600 mile gas-guzzling round trip from Grimsby to Exeter has meaning. Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and their pals would have a field day if only they were interested in the comings and goings of the Grimsby Town team bus. We may be at opposite ends of the table but the game matters to both sides
I could talk about replayed games against Exeter and the famous night in 1972 when we won 3 - 0, took the 4th division championship and all ran on the pitch. This couldn't be more different. The XI charged with delivering tonight's result were: McKeown - Hewitt, Waterfall, Menayese - Clifton, Coke, Matete, Spokes, Khouri - Green, John-Lewis.
Town, in blue, kicked off. The start was pedestrian. Matete announced his intention by hacking down Page on 4 minutes. Decent teamwork from Town led to a John-Lewis header and a corner. Town were playing nicely, and Khouri started an attack on the left before the same player was dispossessed. Exeter had their first chance on 18 minutes when Hewitt cut out a low cross. The ball fell to Key on the right whose cross found Seymour's head. McKeown tipped the ball over. Town defended solidly. Willmott won a corner when Clifton put in a block on the right and the same player fired a shot over as Town pushed Exeter out wide on 24 minutes. Coke did well to break up an attack on 30 minutes but Green was too slow. Urgency was lacking. Exeter were starting to pass the ball around and on 32 minutes attacked on the right. Williams crossed. With Seymour lurking, Waterfall put his foot out to block the cross and glided it into his own net. Exeter 1, Town 0. A Hewitt long throw was headed backwards but Exeter recovered. Matete completed his hat trick of fouls soon after, twice on Page and this time on Taylor. Town launched an attack on 38 minutes. Khouri crossed from the left to what the Radio Devon commentator described in tones of admirable gender neutrality as “the unit that is John-Lewis”. Our Shop Unit couldn't get power on the header. Soon after Clifton went on a run and cut inside. Page put in a tackle. The referee awarded a penalty. Shop stepped up and sent Andresson the wrong way. 1 - 1. A long ball to Green on 41 earned Town a throw in the Exeter half. Hewitt's throw was headed on by Waterfall but Shop was guilty of a foul. Matete got another hat-trick when he fouled Page for a third time, sending the Exeter defender sprawling. Town continued to defend well and had a chance themselves when Green fired in a good shot from outside the box. Clifton then out in a decent run just before the half. 1 - 1 at half time. Town could feel encouraged.
Good work by Clifton on 49 minutes led to an opportunity for Spokes but the shot was weak. Town had an escape two minutes later when Hewitt slipped but Menayese was on hand to clear close to goal with Seymour close by. Menayese again was the saviour when Key cut through the defence, conceding a corner. Town broke away but the ball bobbled and Matete couldn't gain control as he looked to go clear. Town had a throw. Hewitt's throw was flicked off Waterfall's head and Town won a corner on 57 minutes. A short corner was taken. The unmarked Matete received the ball outside the box. Advancing, he struck a left-footed shot. It wasn't his best but Andresson misjudged it and it rolled into the net. Exeter 1, Town 2. Three minutes later Matete went for a 50-50 ball with Exeter's Collins. The ball bounced high. Matete kicked Collins in the chest, and in spite of it being the most innocuous of the numerous fouls he had committed so far the referee pulled out a red card. Town were down to ten men, and were going to miss a key player for the rest of the season whatever happened tonight. As Town regrouped, Exeter won a free-kick 30 yards out. 30 minutes to survive. Town were up for it as Exeter attacked. Town's opportunities were few and far between as they battled to hold on to possession. Habergham replaced Green on 69 minutes as Town sought to hang on. Waterfall cut out a cross. Then Sweeney went close with a dipping shot. Khouri did well to ease the pressure with good work up the left on 75 minutes. Town's players rallied to a man and a unit. Exeter had a good chance when the ball bounced above Habergham's foot, but Key's shot went wide. Another Exeter header went wide, and McKeown tipped over from another header on 82 minutes. From the corner, the ball was headed back out to Fisher who, spotting a gap, fired home. 2 - 2. Fisher almost scored again within seconds with a diving header from Sweeney's cross. Town were all but sunk. A draw was no good. A Clifton mistake led to a cross which Menayese did well to cut out. More determined work by Menayese stopped the advancing Key. Town could not be accused of giving up. On 88 minutes Sweeney crossed from the right. Bowman rose and headed home. Town's defence for once had missed Bowman. 3 - 2 to Exeter. 6 minutes were added. It looked a hopeless cause. Habergham sent in a cross from a rare corner but Spokes mistimed his shot. Scannell and Jackson came on for Spokes and Waterfall in a last futile throw of the dice. Jackson won a corner on 93 minutes. McKeown came up, won the header but it fell wide. Menayese was booked for dissent. Desperate times. The whistle blew. Exeter 3, Town 2. Relegation. There had been more twists than we might have expected but the outcome was no surprise. At least we gave it a go.
So that's it. Through the trap door we go. I kept hearing compliments from the Radio Devon commentators about the quality of our play. The marking was lax for Exeter's winning goal but we had competed well and defended stoutly to that point. This is a decent Town side. The unit that is Town is now going to be split up as we start again. It's what we had that was the problem and has led to this, not what we have now. We came here this evening. We didn't do it. We tried but we died. Tonight was a Grecian tragedy.
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