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The Zero Interest Trophy

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 31/08/2022

PARADOXICALLY I'm writing about a competition which no-one has any interest in. I can't say I'm interested myself in the EFL Trophy, which really ought to be named the Zero Interest Trophy, or ZIT for short.

I can't recall if we've ever got past the group stage, and haven't the desire to check. The teams in our group this year are Mansfield, Manchester City under 21s and today's opponents Derby County. On the positive side, it's a game of football, it involves Grimsby and is an opportunity for some of our squad players. Pride Park is an impressive venue for this evening's non-event.

Town's team this evening was: Crocombe - Cropper, Pearson, Smith, Amos - Maguire-Drew, Wearne, Clifton, Khouri - Kiernan, Pepple. Around 4000 spectators were present with 150 or so from Grimsby. Town wore pink. The game got off to a languid stsrt but after 5 minutes Derby scored with a messy goal, almost walking the ball into the area. Dobbin crossed from the left. Amos intercepted but the ball bounced off Smith's legs and onto the post, rebounding for Mendez-Laing to tap in. It was another slow start from sleepy Town as Wearne, Clifton, Khouri and Kiernan proceeded to take turns to give the ball away as Derby strolled up the field, showing their superiority but little urgency. Crocombe made a brilliant save on 22 minutes following a Dobbin chip to Collins who had only Town's keeper to beat. Town started to improve after half an hour. It had been a laboured effort but Pepple and Kiernan managed shots, and Wearne had two good chances as the ball came out of the box first following a hard-earned corner and then a build-up move leading to a nice low cross from Cropper. On 42 minutes a long ball out to the right found Mendez-Laing. Amos was nowhere to be seen and nor was Smith as the ball was crossed for Sibley to slot home. Derby 2, Town 0. Clifton committed a foul a minute later on Town's right. Sibley took the free kick. The ball was cleared. Bird ran on and pinged a curler into the corner through the packed box. Derby 3, Town 0. Town's efforts were undone by poor concentration, while at the same time Derby displayed superior skills as Town's performance was patchy and laboured.

Morris replaced Wearne for Town at the half. The game proceeded at pedestrian pace, with the odd corner and foul being traded. Orsi and Green came on for Pepple and Clifton on 65 minutes but the pattern remained the same. Green headed over from a Kiernan cross after a slow build-up before at the other end Barkuizen missed from an angle 10 yards out after good work by Rooney and McGoldrick. Derby had a spell of pressure but on 70 minutes Morris picked up the ball and did well to locate Maguire-Drew whose cross was cleared. Amos picked up the return but his shot was high, wide and finished near the corner flag. A few minutes later Braithwaite replaced Amos. Derby continued to look comfortable. A through ball from defence found Green who crossed to Orsi but if Orsi's header was supposed to be to anyone there was no-one there. The game had been looking to die a death for most of the half but finally there was something to cheer when a lovely cross from Maguire-Drew found Kiernan on the left. Kiernan controlled the ball before the defender got there and drilled his shot home to make it 3 - 1. That's how it finished. Town stumbled and played reasonably well in patches but overall were no threat to Derby who controlled possession better.

Nothing to see here. This was like a training exercise. The first half was poor, while the second half seemed to be an exercise in fulfilling the fixture, and giving some of our players a few minutes on the pitch. I was pleased that Town scored and in particular that Maguire-Drew and Kiernan were able to show their ability. I felt sorry for Pepple and later Orsi who were expected to operate up front on their own and feed on thin gruel. So this was our first game in the ZIT. It was literally a pointless exercise. There was little or no interest before. Now there'll be even less. Let's concentrate on the league.

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