Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
|Summer on the beach|
Curbing the Cobblers
By: Andrew Doherty
Today's game against Northampton was always going to be a tough early-season test. The Cobblers, who missed out on automatic promotion by the narrowest of margins last season, have been busy in the transfer market.
But in spite of last week's loss, there's a buoyancy about Blundell Park today as it's Town's first home game of the season with more than 5000 season tickets sold after the success of last year. For the first time in 55 years of watching Town, I have one. Although I know I can't get to all the games, I get to sit where I want and get some preference on away tickets. I know I'm not alone in doing this. I contacted the club, and the lady helpfully confirmed I can declare if I'm not going and give someone else has the opportunity to go instead, as many can't afford a season ticket and or go regularly because of work and other reasons.
I don't think last week's loss was a shock, but at times there was a noticeable gulf in quality between the teams, and the lack of a distracting, ferret-like, goalscoring striker was evident. Where's Dieseruvwe or Amond when you need them? McAtee was fed up and spent most of the game throwing his toys out of the pram. I'm not really convinced that selling him and loaning him back is good for the team, but I guess it's good business and I'm quite probably wrong. Today's line-up, as Town sought to win their first points of the season was: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon - Holohan, Green, Morris, Clifton - Kiernan, Taylor. So today there were no answers to the McAtee Enigma.
Bag search completed with the added opportunity to catch up with the steward on the important matter of where to buy the best sausage rolls and pies in the area, we were in the ground. The tension was mounting. The teams came on. Party time. Stripes v Pinks. Town versus a load of Cobblers. Town started energetically, putting Northampton under pressure. On 6 minutes Efete crossed for Clifton who fouled Koiki. It was good to see Efete up there. Five minutes later great anticipation by Holohan saw Town's player beat Sowerby. Holohan ran forward and shot low … but just wide. Two minutes later a Pinnock long throw led to a back flick by Hoskins but there was no danger. Another great Holohan interception from a pass by Magloire led to an attack with Northampton repelled. Glennon and Clifton were combining well on the left, and on 25 minutes there was good work by Taylor who shook off the defender and crossed to Holohan whose shot went high over the top of the Osmond stand. There was almost a disaster on 28 minutes when Smith and Crocombe left a long ball to each other but luckily Appere fouled Smith. A Glennon free kick on 30 minutes found Waterfall who tried to guide it. What was obvious was the lack of options in the middle for Town who were resorting to long-range shots and crosses to players without the control that a striker might have. So Town resorted to speculative attempts. Northampton were creating very little themselves and when they did, Town's defence was solid. Yet another Holohan intervention resulted in a surging run. The move was stopped when Holohan was tripped. The free-kick was wasteful. Crocombe was forced into a save from Pinnock after a free-kick but the visitors had little to offer still with Town making the running. On 40 minutes Morris started a move which ended with a curling cross from Glennon which Kiernan was able to reach but not control. The half ended with the two teams trading fouls. 0 - 0. Town were winning a lot of balls, but the lack of striking capability was evident while Northampton offered nothing.
Town continued to press and Holohan had a good run up the right as the second half started. Hylton handled the ball but Northampton once again handled the pressure that Town applied. On 51 minutes Town attacked and a snapshot from Kiernan forced a save from Northampton's keeper. Clifton's follow-up looked to be deflected but the referee thought otherwise. On 59 minutes Northampton attacked. Hoskins had a shot blocked. The defences were winning this game. Kiernan then tried to wriggle past Koiki and fell down but no penalty was awarded. Today's referee was the sort who didn't give fouls for players going down and was not card happy as tackles flew in. Town won a free kick. Nothing came of it. Clifton was clobbered. The game had become increasingly physical. A long cross from Glennon from left to right was sent in. Holohan and Efete pounced. Town won a corner. Glennon's cross found Waterfall who headed over. Bowie was then worryingly given space to break out and attack but Smith was on hand with an excellent block. Morris conceded possession. Town responded. Glennon sent Clifton away. Clifton was fouled in the corner. 72 minutes were up. Glennon crossed. Green headed the ball down. The keeper appeared out of nowhere to save it. Northampton countered up the right. Town's defence had a big gaping hole on the left. The ball was slipped through to Hoskins who unchallenged advanced and slipped the ball past Crocombe low into the corner. Town 0 Northampton 1. The Cobblers 495 fans in today's crowd of 7,154 went wild. Wearne replaced Green. On 77 minutes Town attacked up the left. Glennon crossed. Holohan turned but scuffed his shot. Wearne then won a corner. Holohan ran up the right and crossed. Wearne's low shot was saved by Burge. A cross came in from Efete. Northampton struggled to clear the ball. Clifton and Glennon had shots blocked. The move ended with a poor cross from Holohan. Northampton's players fell down as teams do when they're hanging on to a lead. On 86 minutes Maguire-Drew replaced Clifton. Town attacked immediately and did so in numbers. Glennon crossed. Wearne's shot was saved and palmed away but 30 seconds after coming on Town's talisman Maguire-Drew was on hand to drill the ball in from close range. 1 - 1. Northampton responded but Crocombe was on hand to get a foot on a shot from Bowie from close range. Finally the referee brought out his yellow card for Haynes who had hacked down Efete. Glennon's cross found Waterfall's head but the header was way off target. The crowd was still buzzing after the equaliser. 6 minutes were added. Wave upon wave of attack came as Town sought a winner. Wearne had a shot saved. Taylor worked well with Maguire-Drew who earned a corner after a sublime cross. Holohan had a shot blocked. Northampton's Sherring went down clutching his head. Play was stopped and disrupted. Momentum was lost and the Northampton player lived. Another surge up the left led to a Town free-kick following a handball by Hoskins. Glennon's free-kick came in. Maguire-Drew's shot was headed off the line. And then after 98 minutes of increasingly frenetic action, the final whistle blew. Grimsby Town 1, Northampton Town 1.
This was a competitive game, which Town more than deserved to draw. Beforehand I had predicted a 0 - 0 draw on the basis that we have no scoring striker to give an extra option or indeed any option, and Mr Hurst does like a clean sheet. I also expected him to treat the opposition with reverence as he always does but Northampton were not as incisive as I expected them to be. This is testimony to Town's pressing. Town's defence limited them to few chances and the one that resulted in a goal came about after Glennon was upfield and Northampton countered. This is something we have to deal with and a question has to be raised about coverage and substitutions in these cases. But Town constantly won balls in midfield. Holohan I thought was magnificent. Most encouraging was the fact that we more than matched and contained the Cobblers who are expected to do well this season.
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