League Two Form Guide
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An Essex Expedition
By: Andrew Doherty
AS an exile, getting to Town games this season so far has been a trial, with evening games, rail strikes, engineering work and replacement buses, EFL bureaucrats and a fantasy Trans Pennine Express train service to contend with. Ironically the easiest game to get to has been Newport away.
Colchester's ground isn't near anything except the A12 anyway so today's operation was road-mounted with a Mariners triumvirate from Cambridge comprising Histon, CB1 and CB5 embarking on the mission.
Our advance into Essex completed, we looked to the football. Tuesday's draw was dismal but at least we got a point. With a number of suboptimal performances, particularly in the passing and link-up play, changes were expected. Town's line-up today was: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon - Kiernan, Hunt, Holohan, Clifton - Richardson - Taylor. In the event, Hunt was the only newcomer, replacing Morris.
Earlier in the week I visited Green Park in London where I saw the floral tributes to the Queen including a very nice one from Borehamwood FC. The football community once again rose to the occasion with pre-match tributes at today's game. Town in pink kicked away from the away supporters numbering 589 in the crowd of 3,167. The Western Homes Community stadium is impressive but notable for its empty spaces. The atmosphere and play were subdued. Town looked to get into their stride but posed no threat. Poor passes from Smith and Kiernan gave Colchester the chance to attack but they were unable to take advantage. The first action occurred on 11 minutes when a Holohan shot was palmed away for a corner. Hunt found Waterfall's head but Colchester defended solidly. As Town struggled, Colchester took control with a number of attacks. A cross field ball from the evergreen Nouble to the right wing resulted in a cross and a header from Appiah straight to Crocombe. A long ball from Chambers then found Appiah who found himself clear on goal. Crocombe ran out and saved with his feet before Nouble boomed over. Longstaff then crossed to Clampin whose pass but bundled into the net by Nouble - disallowed for offside. Town were having possession but Colchester had the chances. Hunt wasted a couple of free kicks as the game settled into a pattern where the sides alternated attacks without posing any threat. On 30 minutes a Glennon error led to a Colchester attack. Smith looked to control the cross with his arm but fortunately the referee didn't see it that way. Town countered. Richardson broke away and shot from range - corner. Town were unable to capitalise. Overall Town were unable to string together a meaningful attack. In a week of silences, the crowd went quiet at the sight of the inactive on-field fare. A poor touch from Efete led him to be booked for a foul before Taylor fell over his feet following a Glennon crisis. As half time approached, Hint, Glennon, Clifton and Efete were involved in a move which inevitably fizzled out. This half was noteworthy only for its lack of excitement and action.
A mazy run a minute into the second half from Richardson livened up proceedings. Taking a return from Taylor, Richardson was unable to keep his balance at the crucial moment. Soon after a nice move started with Kiernan and ended on the left but again Town were unable to seize the opportunity. Colchester won a corner and Town had a couple of sorties on the right, but the game was becoming scrappy again. On 60 minutes a crisp Town attack resulted in a cross from Glennon. Clifton looked to have been pushed in the back but the referee was having none of it and the ball went out for a Colchester throw. Town pressed. Kiernan linked up with Efete who won a corner. The ball returned to Town's half where Smith saved the day with a block after Taylor had lost possession. Taylor immediately redeemed himself with a visionary lob from midfield to Clifton who chipped Colchester's keeper O'Hara to make it 1 - 0 to Town. Colchester responded with an attack but Smith hooked the ball clear for a corner. Coxe was then fouled on the edge of Town's penalty area. A training ground free kick resulted in a corner. A long cross came in but Appiah was unable to squeeze the ball in - crisis over. The game was becoming more physical. Town were playing with more confidence. A Clifton interception and Richardson's skill set up another Town attack. Colchester responded with a triple substitution on 73 minutes and there was an immediate reaction as Town's defence repelled the new injection of pace. A volley was then deflected for a Colchester corner. On 76 minutes Orsi replaced Richardson. Kiernan was booked for tripping the advancing Tchamadeu. An Efete throw then led to a lovely through ball from Taylor but although Clifton anticipated it well, he couldn't quite on the end of it. Like the move for the goal, this was more inventive. Town now attacked as a team. On 82 minutes Clifton linked up with Taylor who found Glennon. O'Hara punched the ball away. The ball was cleared and Smith once again came to the rescue with a brilliant intervention. Appiah then missed a golden opportunity with a header at the far post after a cross. On 83 minutes Maher replaced Kiernan. Colchester attacked wasted cross after cross. Town broke and as Orsi looked to be in a position to run on as Colchester left themselves exposed at the back, Hunt's cross field pass was woeful and went out of play. Simmonds replaced Hunt on 89 minutes. Great control by Taylor again set up another move as Town sought to keep possession but Maher lost the ball, and Colchester moved forward. The result was a limp chip which Crocombe gathered easily. Colchester continued to be ineffective and Town saw the game out easily. So it ended: Colchester United 0, Grimsby Town 1.
We ground out a result here against poor opposition. The performance wasn't pretty, and the first half was particularly uninspiring. The pace and level of invention improved in the second half. It was a deserved victory. Town scrapped and battled, and were victorious. It wasn't glorious but we were happy as we returned home from our expedition to Essex.
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