Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Chris Parker
22 October 2023
Storms of one form or the other dominated the fixture against table toppers Stockport.
Storm Babet interrupted travel plans for many, with roads closed for some whilst all direct trains from Cleethorpes to Stockport were cancelled due to flooding. As this was one of only two away league games with direct train access from NE Lincs we had planned to travel by train but had to rearrange early on Saturday morning with a designated driver selected.
A couple of pre-match beers in an excellent Stockport Tap room before a stroll to the ground.
Despite the travel problems Town fans were there in very good numbers and saw the Mariners line up with three centre-backs in a 5-3-2 or, for the glass half full types, 3-5-2 formation. To the majority it seemed the 'two' was the key number: Wilson partnering Rose up front.
In the opening three or four minutes Town looked bright. They nearly broke into the home team penalty area.
Then the next storm broke. A short corner was played towards the Villa loanee, Barry, Maher tracked him a little too closely and as Barry reached back with his right hand to pull Maher even more tightly, they tumbled in a heap and a penalty kick was awarded. Clever play by the striker but maybe Maher didn't have to be that tight? Nevertheless, the spot kick was easily dispatched by Barry and, I am told, for the first time this season Town had conceded within the first 15 mins of a league game.
Just two minutes later it was 2-0. A direct goal but one that should have been defended far better. A long punt down field seemed to see Rogers try and get in front of the muscular Olaofe, he failed and the striker was through on goal and finished easily.
With the storm fully raging Eastwood made a good save and two immediate follow ups were blocked by the sprawling bodies of Maher and Amos. The attacks were constant and Town were caught out again with a long ball down the left channel. Olaofe was clean through and he was clattered by the onrushing Eastwood. Clear penalty. Olaofe dusted himself down but put the kick went well wide.
As usual at this level strange decisions by the officials were prevelent, although this was not helped by players rolling around when not touched. Stockport's Pye was very guilty of this in my eyes but on one occasion the referee simply told him to get up in no uncertain manner. He duly rose to his feet and ran off. A big bug bear of mine. Caution him. He was clearly trying to mislead the official or, as I like to call it, cheat!
The storm then seemed to have blown itself out and Town started to have a bit more of the play. The next goal could be key. As we entered stoppage time Mullarkey crossed from the bye line, Amos arrived at the far post to bundled the ball across goal and Donovan Wilson swivelled to reduce the arrears. 2-1 at half time, could have been down and out but Town had hung in there and were still in the game.
So far this season Town have fallen away badly in the second period on too many occasions but we actually started the half with increased tempo, maybe even with a degree of dominance. Clifton and Holohan were getting forward to support the strikers and the wing-backs had clearly been instructed to get higher up the pitch to put pressure on the home team. In all honesty I cannot recall too many chances but we were at least taking the game to the table toppers.
Town were then gifted a golden chance to equalise when a good ball from Holohan saw Clifton break wide in the box for a crossing opportunity. Inexplicably he was met with home keeper Hinchliffe charging from his goal to bring him down. Another clear penalty, duly put away by Holohan.
Town were now in the driving seat. Could they push on now they had fought back to level? Unfortunately not! It seemed we were content to be level. Stockport, for league leaders they were not looking great, and certainly nowhere near the force they looked for the first half hour of the fixture.
I mentioned earlier about some strange decisions, acknowledging that the officials have a tough job, but Rodgers seemed to stretch, win the ball, studs down, not touching the opponent but a free kick and a caution administered. From this Stockport got the benefit of a tight offside call for Collar to head back across goal and to see it bundled home by Barry for what proved the winner.
There was still time for Town but frankly the game petered out and it was yet another defeat.
Overall, Town played okay, an improvement on some recent showings but still no addition to the points column. With the personnel available the formation suited us a little better. No wingers as such but they have proved ineffectual of late. The wing-backs needed to push on to provide the width and in the second half in particular they did this well. Still too many mistakes defensively.
The storm was not over however. On the way out, Town fans exchanged views on the current situation. Sadly too many struggled to accept alternative view points as squabbles brought police intervention.
Whether Hurst Out, or Happy Clappers I don't believe any fan is happy with the teams points haul, position, or style of play but ultimately we all want to see the team improve and win. How best we go about that is where some differ.
Tuesday night is a huge game for Grimsby Town Football Club. Must win? I think it probably is for some.