D3D4 Grimsby Town Correspondent Sam Barrick gives his take on The mariners back to back wins…
A better week
Consecutive victories for the first time since January ensured Grimsby Town climbed to 7 points clear of the relegation zone and only 1 point off the play offs and even 4th spot.
The first victory at Accrington was undeniably the most impressive and indeed surprising. After our drubbing at Mansfield on the previous Saturday I wrote at great length about the problems we have and the need to overcome them quickly. I still harbour those concerns because 2 victories don’t mean we have irrevocably solved the issues and that we are now a team destined for promotion. These were undoubtedly good results but in my eyes they have merely temporarily papered over the cracks.
I was half expecting the response we got at Accrington. We seemed more organised, quicker to the ball, more ruthless in both boxes and more energetic. This in many ways angers me more because we clearly demonstrated our ability to fight for every ball and make sure we cleared everything at the first opportunity but those aspects of the game were absent from the moment we kicked off at Mansfield.
The team selection was also much better. Jamille Matt seems suited to away matches as he’ll bully defenders and make sure they are over occupied with him and that will allow our flair players (notably Sam Jones at Accrington) to flourish. On a cold, wet and miserable Tuesday night in Lancashire we out thought, fought and foxed our opponents with a proper away performance.
We scored 2 goals from counter attacks (one from a goal kick admittedly) and didn’t give much away. Sam Jones’ was a beautifully delicate flick over the keeper followed by a showing of true desire to get to the ball before the defender to score. The second was another quality finish where Martyn Woolford showed all of his experience and class by stroking the ball past the keeper after yet more good play by Jones who had controlled, turned and passed the ball perfectly.
In between we showed our weaknesses again though. The normally ever reliable Danny Collins was found badly out of position and former Mariner, Kayden Jackson was in acres of space and fired past James McKeown. Once we got back ahead we “kept us shape” in defence and weren’t scythed open like we were at Mansfield and it was generally more encouraging.
We then followed it up with a decent home performance against a poor looking Yeovil side. Again it was game where clear cut chances and genuine quality were few and far between but ultimately we got the victory again and made the table more pleasant reading. We did it without displaying fluent or intricate football but from one well worked set piece and one terrible piece of goalkeeping. The first ball was a corner that looked too near the keeper but he made a pathetic flap at the ball and Danny Collins managed to get the ball past the man on the line (even though it look as if the man just vanished as it looked impossible even on replay for Collins to score.) The equaliser was the only moment of quality in the game. However, another sloppy piece of play in the midfield involving a poor ball by Woolford to Luke Summerfield who air kicked the ball meant it was a lot easier than it should have been. Nevertheless, Francois Zoko’s curling effort from 20 yards was a magnificent effort and certainly deserved a goal. James McKeown was once again helpless.
Our winner came courtesy of a rare Scott Vernon strike. When the 33 year old ex-Aberdeen and Shrewsbury veteran was introduced from the bench the general feeling from the stands (totally unjustified in my opinion) was one of “well we’ll never score now.” Vernon proved them all wrong with an instinctive header after Paul Dixon’s free kick had been headed back across goal by Nathan Clarke. Personally, I was very happy to see the hard working hold up man get his name on the score sheet. We had a couple of other chances, notably when Siriki Dembele had the ball at the far post after a cross and should have just put his foot through it, perhaps showing a lack of confidence in front of goal as he endured a relative off day by his high standards.
In these past 2 games we have shown signs of significant improvement but I am still far from convinced that we are capable of challenging for the play offs. We undoubtedly have some very good players. Sam Jones is a good goal scorer; three goals already despite a 3 game suspension and Dembele will only get better with games. We also have Jamey Osborne to come back in November time and he is far more dynamic and creative than all of our other midfielders. However, I am reasonably certain that the concerns I raised will dog us right throughout the season and that will ensure we remain in the lower reaches of the mid-table region for the majority of the season.