My second taste of live football in the 2009/10 season came at Saltergate on Wednesday night, as Chesterfield took on Grimsby.
We set off from Warrington at 5pm in good faith. Albeit rush hour, but we thought the earlier we leave, the better. A trip through Manchester, Stockport and over the Peaks ensued – we arrived at the ground with just ten minutes until kick off.
Most people were in the ground by now, but not the away fans, who were all queuing to get in the one open turnstile. The whistle for kick off went as we stood outside two turnstiles that were reserved for concessions. A few lads tried to get in on concession, but were told that Chesterfield don’t do students anymore. Next minute, another student is encouraging us to go in as students. Sorted. A saving of £6 – not bad, considering we missed the first two minutes.
Grimsby looked a bit flat – something their fans have come to expect – and seemed to struggle getting it out of their own half. Young right back Bradley Wood was putting himself about with a few good challenges and good headers, but Chesterfield were winning too many corners, and something was bound to give. Eventually, a corner was drilled in, the first man missed it, and Derek Niven fired in from the edge of the box through a crowd of players. Goalkeeper Nick Colgan could have perhaps done better, after he got a solid hand to it. He had previously saved the Mariners after a mistake by Michael Linwood let in Jack Lester.
We were left bewildered by hesitant defending by Joe Widdowson at times. And in the second half, it was a mistake by Widdowson that allowed Chesterfield take a two goal lead. The goal was a result of a harsh free kick given against Peter Bore, and the resulting free kick definitely was not taken from the spot it was awarded.
I’ve not really seen much of Bore in a Grimsby shirt, but he could certainly beat a man. However, Grimsby’s final balls always seemed more speculative than anything – Peter Sweeney put in a few nice crosses, but there was no pace on them, and it made it difficult for the Mariners frontmen to get anything decent on target.
The game was over when Donal McDermott made it 3-0 on 69 minutes with a neat finish, leading to chants of “easy, easy, easy” from the home faithful.
But a minute later, a moment of class made the long journey home that little bit more bearable for the Mariners fans. Proudlock took down a throw in on his chest, with his back to goal, turned and curled the ball in to the top corner with his left foot. Grimsby didn’t show much urgency in getting the ball back, but they kept trying to come forward, and Akpa Akpro came close when he glanced a header in to the hands of the Chesterfield ‘keeper.
But as time went on, the game was petering out. That was until Sweeney answered the pleas of the travelling faithful and lashed a shot from the edge of the box, which crashed in off the underside of the crossbar courtesy of a deflection, to give Grimsby a lifeline with three minutes to play.
Unfortunately, much of stoppage time was spent wasted in the Grimsby box, after the referee gave an extremely harsh back pass, after Colgan had picked up the ball in the box following a tackle by Ryan Bennett. Grimsby cleared the danger, and despite winning a late free kick, Sweeney’s cross was claimed by the ‘keeper, and the game finished 3-2.
Grimsby’s problem seems to be that they are playing with 7/8 players, and are carrying 2/3. Sweeney orchestrates in midfield, but doesn’t seem to have someone to play alongside him. And Proudlock up front did a lot of work, but didn’t really have much of a back up. Conlon, Forbes and North have all tried to establish themselves in the team, but there still seems to be a lack of a unit feel to the Grimsby side.
Whether Mike Newell can find the solution within his existing squad remains to be seen.
So I left at the end of my fourth Mariners game – four defeats (Macclesfield 0-1, Port Vale 1-2, Cheltenham 1-2, Chesterfield 2-3), all by a single goal. They won’t want me going again soon!