Question of the WeekWhere will Grimsby be in 5 years time??
By: Andrew Doherty
MARCH 1978: I went to Aldershot to watch Town in a Friday night game. This was my Fanatical Era. We lost 4 - 2. Full of cold but undeterred, I went back to the Recreation Ground the following season. We lost 2 - 0. At least it was a Saturday afternoon.
My home record against the Shots isn't a lot better. A 2 - 0 loss in 1968, a 3 - 3 draw in 1972 and a 1 - 1 draw in 2013 are the games I remember. Do we ever beat this team? Well we ought to today, as they languish near the bottom of the league while in spite of recent glitches we've been having a lovely time, thank you very much. Aldershot have been through the wars and back, with closure and a fresh start as Aldershot Town in 1992, followed by promotions back into the Football League, and more financial problems in 2013 since when they've been in the National League. Compared to their problems, we've been lucky. Our renaissance has been of the footballing and ownership kind. Today presented our opportunity to get back on track after a trio of defeats. Aldershot were seeking to avenge a 0 - 5 midweek loss. Town's changed lineup today on this grey day in Aldershot was: McKeown - Efete, Waterfall, Towler, Revan - Sousa, Hunt, Fox, Clifton, Khouri - Taylor. On the entry to the stadium, the polite and well-meaning steward asked me who I support. On hearing my reply, he pointed me to the Grimsby section "in case you get excited". A highly remote possibility at my time of life, but you can't be too careful.
Town played in their traditional black and white while Aldershot wore their customary red and blue. Many years ago I had a Subbuteo team in the same red and blue. I don't know why. Maybe Evington's had a sale. The only other team that wore these colours to my knowledge was Spain, and it was no one's away kit so options were limited. This said, I also had a Brazil team with their regular yellow and green, and black faces. The nearest anyone came to taking the knee in those days was when my brother clumsily trod on a player. On a serious note, the home club as an army town had today organised a short programme of events for Remembrance Day. Respect duly and fittingly observed by the participants and 2,343 strong crowd, this took us up to kick-off time barring the now obligatory gesture of genuflection.
Aldershot started brightly and won a corner on 5 minutes. Town swept upfield and Aldershot's goalkeeper Walker was forced to tip over from an Efete cross-shot. A neat passing move involving Fox, Sousa and Clifton ended when Taylor failed to anticipate Clifton's pass. Aldershot however had most of the play and after winning a free-kick on the right, Lyons-Foster rose and headed the ball goalwards. McKeown fumbled and Willard was on hand to poke the ball home after 12 minutes. Aldershot 1, Town 0. Three minutes later Efete found Sousa in space on the right. Fox headed back from the cross. Clifton saw his opportunity and fired home from 10 yards out. Hunt and Sousa worked well on 18 minutes but the move broke down before the ball returned into the Grimsby half. A mix up in the defence led to an Aldershot corner. From it Glover's header crashed against the underside of the bar. It was a 1966 World Cup Final moment but here in Aldershot no goal was given. On 22 minutes Clifton was tripped on the edge of the box. Hunt's free-kick was headed clear. Towler then failed to clear his lines but Willard shot wide. The ball was working from end to end but Aldershot looked to have the better chances. On 33 minutes the home side had another dangerous attack. Kinsella crossed from the left but there was no-one to get on the end of it. Aldershot won a corner. The ball swung in and Waterfall averted the danger by heading over. On 39 minutes, Clifton who today was playing in a central forward role was fouled on the left, resulting in a booking for the defender. Just as I announced that Hunt's dead-ball play seemed better today than the last time I saw him, he delivered his free-kick directly into the arms of the goalkeeper. A deft Clifton back heel soon after nutmegged the defender but Sousa was unable to rise to the occasion, his shot weakly rolling into the waiting keeper's arms. Fox then ran into the area to no avail. The half ended at 1 - 1. Town attacked and fought as the half came to a close. There were signs that we were getting into gear after a number of earlier nervous moments.
The second half started with a nice move between Revan and Clifton who found Sousa but Sousa inexplicably sent in a 100 miles per hour high cross which no striker in the world could be expected to reach. More good work by Revan then led to a corner for Town, who started to press. Hunt unsuccessfully attempted a one-two as he looked to run into the box for a shot. Town seemed to be too intricate for their own good in their attempts to breakthrough. The game started getting feisty with tackles flying in, and Sousa was booked after a spat with Kinsella on 55 minutes, thereafter been catcalled by the home fans as the Pantomime Villain. Town had been defending stoutly and had tightened up since the first half but on 60 minutes Aldershot found space on the right. The cross came over the top of the defence to the unmarked Whittingham who volleyed home from close range on the left. Aldershot 2, Town 1. On 66 minutes Bapaga and John-Lewis came on for Fox and Khouri. On 69 minutes Aldershot moved upfield and from a right-sided cross, Oxlade-Chamberlain of the Christian variety smacked a volley onto the bar from outside the box. Town's response was a well-struck shot by Clifton which went over. Bapaga missed a good chance on 74 minutes, firing low but wide from inside the box as Sousa did good work on the right before Taylor teed him up. Aldershot were now packing their defence. As 80 minutes approached, Taylor passed to Revan who crossed from the left. Taylor left it to run to the advancing Sousa who fired home but no - offside. A minute later Sousa won back the ball in midfield. John-Lewis got a shot in but it was from too far out and not powerful enough to be effective. Sousa won a corner on 85 minutes. Two minutes later John-Lewis wriggled clear from a tight spot and shot. Walker saved. Clifton and others were on hand to follow up but Aldershot were back in numbers and after a scramble blocked Town's attempts and averted the threat. John-Lewis had a header shortly afterwards which Walker saved easily. 5 minutes were added but Aldershot played the game out. Town's final contribution was Hunt being booked for a foul in midfield as he stopped Aldershot advancing. So the final score was: Aldershot Town 2, Grimsby Town 1.
The steward needn't have worried. I felt frustration as did the other 680 + Town fans here today but no excitement as Town toiled. There was flair from Clifton and the tightly-marked Sousa, but Aldershot looked more dangerous, hitting the crossbar twice in addition to their goals. Town's defence looked shaky at times and guilty of misunderstandings while hard as they tried, the midfield couldn't make things happen. Bapaga came on and found space but his teammates were incapable of picking him out, preferring to supply Sousa who was surrounded. The change of line-up was probably needed after recent misfires, but Town didn't play smartly. We were too slow in the build-up, insisted on supplying Sousa at the expense of other options and so became predictable, and in my view missed a trick by playing Clifton in central midfield. Clifton has proved he has more options and presents more danger in a wider role. The quality of play wasn't good or tight enough. This was a very ordinary performance from both a playing and tactical point of view. Aldershot deserved their win, showing more invention in their play, and we lost our way as we were outgunned by the home side.
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