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Question of the WeekWhere will Grimsby be in 5 years time??
|We won today....|
The Excitement Quotient
By: Andrew Doherty
IT was becoming a ritual. Trips to Blundell Park were becoming for the purpose of being in good company, having a nice day out apart from the extended train journeys, and witnessing what seemed to be Town's inexorable march towards mid-table.
But then there was that win at Notts County, followed by the frustration of being unable to break down lowly King's Lynn. So the doubts remain but so does a glimmer of hope. Today's opponents are Aldershot, whose season we helped to kick start by losing 1 - 2 there in November. My main recollection of that day is of the steward who advised me to go in the Town section in case I got excited. Frustration was always the more likely possibility on that day too, and so it proved. Today I have licence to be excited if I want. The King's Lynn draw left me unconvinced we had hit any sort of turning point as some claimed, but if we do go on an unlikely run of wins there is still that tantalising possibility of re-joining the play-off contenders. The Town team today responsible for starting the process of achieving this goal read: Crocombe - Efete, Pearson, Waterfall, Amos - Burgess, Raikhy - Sousa, McAtee, Clifton -- Taylor.
A seething sky with a gusty wind and sporadic horizontal rain greeted the players and fans as Town attacked the Osmond. The ball bobbled and drifted irregularly, suggesting there wasn't going to be much quality on display. Town started on the attack, winning a corner after good work on the right from Sousa and Efete. Amos's scuffed corner from the right evaded everyone when it just needed a toe to poke it home. On 9 minutes, a well-worked team move from left to right and an Efete cross resulted in the ball coming back off the post. As Aldershot's defence sought to re-group, Sousa pounced and controlling the ball first, fired in from 10 yards out. 1 - 0 to Town. Relief. Five minutes later McAtee played a sublime pass to Sousa who, with just the goalkeeper to beat, took too much time. This was a golden opportunity which it was to be hoped wasn't going to be costly. From the resultant corner it looked as if the ball was bundled over the line but the referee and linesman didn't think so. Good pressing from Clifton on 17 minutes earned Town another corner. The conditions were cold and wet as the rain now fell steadily. Town were applying themselves and looking to launch offensives. Aldershot had a half chance when Glover struck the side netting. Following another brief Aldershot attack, which Town defended well, McAtee's trickery set up one for Town. That led to nothing. Nor did good work between Clifton, Amos and Taylor on 24 minutes. Two minutes later Crocombe did well to take a cross cleanly and started another Town attack which faltered with an offside decision against Taylor. This was becoming a game of offsides as both defences set their traps. Apart from occasional noise from the 121 Aldershot fans in today's attendance of 5177, the crowd was silent. The game was on mute. This was unexciting fare in miserable conditions. The game received a momentary uplift on 32 minutes when Raikhy and Burgess combined to start a Town attack but Efete's low shot ran wide of the post. Town then made a break after Crocombe made a save with his feet. Sousa supplied McAtee whose attempted chip went out for a throw-in. Clifton's vision and combativeness then saw him win possession in midfield. Passing to McAtee he ran on to receive a pass but McAtee went it alone and ballooned his shot over the bar. It was now becoming a series of failed attempts. On 39 minutes McAtee had an opportunity but his shot was blocked. The ball returned to Clifton who from the edge of the box sought to find space, but saw McAtee close by and laid off a pass. McAtee had space and from outside the box on the left picked his spot and curled his shot past the outstretched Barnes into the net. Town 2, Aldershot 0. Waterfall was then booked for a foul on the edge of Town's box but Aldershot's attempt came to nothing, resulting in a corner, from which Crocombe confidently picked off a shot from Sylla. It remained 2 - 0 at half-time. This hadn't been 45 minutes of great quality in terms of overall play but Town scored two good goals and were well on top.
The rain continued to pour. There was an eerie silence as men in black and white, and other men in amber ran around, as if life had no purpose. It was time for reflection. On 49 minutes Taylor committed a foul in Town's half. Vennings took aim, and sent the free-kick high into the Osmond stand, providing amusement and entertainment at last for Town supporters. Aldershot had an attack on 54 minutes after almost 10 minutes of nothingness in this second half, from which Glover fired into the side netting. Town defended solidly and played without urgency. The game was on autopilot. The second goal had killed it and Aldershot posed no threat. The only pleasure was to be had in seeing Clifton and Burgess working hard and doing simple things. Today's conditions were not ideal for drying paint, let alone watching it. This was all a way of passing a Saturday afternoon. Inevitably it was Clifton who decided that enough was enough, brilliantly anticipating, battling and winning possession in midfield on 59 minutes, slipping the ball to McAtee on the right. McAtee advanced, blasted a shot that came off of Barnes. Now McAtee turned to his left foot and this time shot clear of Barnes. Town 3, Aldershot 0. On 62 minutes Scannell replaced Sousa. Town played the ball around. Aldershot struggled but even with 30 minutes left, the game was over. Abrahams replaced Taylor on 69 minutes. On 72 minutes Efete was penalised for shoving Vennings in the back. Ah, Vennings. The Town fans encouraged Aldershot to nominate Vennings as their free-kick taker after his previous dismal effort, shouting "shoot". Vennings obliged and shot. The ball curled over the bar. Improvement. Smith replaced Waterfall on 75 minutes. With the substitutions, the game had the air of a pre-season friendly. Willard had a decent effort for Aldershot but the game was disappearing into the cold Cleethorpes air. Town won a corner on 78 minutes, and then good work by Burgess led to a cross from the right from which Clifton attempted a deft flick but it was all the stuff of gesture. The crowd, even the Aldershot fans, was quiet and some home supporters left, satisfied that they had seen enough. Town had started the game well and played with good intensity and endeavour. The first goal lifted the tension and the second was the killer blow as Town wore Aldershot down. The third goal was the icing. Of course Town were guilty of the customary lapse and switched off on 90 minutes when Oxlade-Chamberlain waltzed through Town's sleeping defence from the right of midfield. The ball rebounded to Glover who fired an unstoppable low shot past Crocombe. So the final score was: Grimsby Town 3, Aldershot 1. Without question, the better side won today.
"There was something special in the air last Saturday", enthused one of our co-owners. Today's result propels us forward but it was hardly anything special while being a dominant win. From a spectator point of view, you'd like to think that the formula "Excitement/Frustration = > 1" would apply but it rarely does. Today there were brief moments of frustration as Town failed to capitalise at first on the initial goal and the late Aldershot goal spoilt the clean sheet. The moments of excitement were fleeting and revolved around the goals but they outweighed any frustration. Above all this was a satisfying victory. There were several positives about Town's team today. The early goal defused the tension. Town remained patient after Sousa's miss, which could have led to the performance unravelling and letting Aldershot in as the game went on, but were rewarded with the second goal which all but sealed the game. Crocombe looked assured in goal, and the midfield looked to have good balance, with the addition of Burgess who looked like he can read the game well and supplied simple balls forward. The invention and skill came from Raikhy and McAtee while Clifton looked to be back to his determined and influential best. Now those are things to be excited about. The three points furthermore give us something extra to look forward to when we take to the road on our forthcoming trips to Southend and Dover.
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