Very rarely have the Mariners put in a performance so complete in every department. It was a convincing victory. Defenders defended, midfielders created and strikers converted. Strikers also missed, but chances kept on coming and, in the end, the margin of victory could have been much bigger.
Before you make a disrespectful remark about someone or something, you’re required to say that you don’t intend to be disrespectful to them. Therefore, no disrespect to Hayes, but they were very poor. We’ve seen previously that very poor teams are capable of leaving Blundell Park with all three points but today we dealt with a very average side in a way that a team in a promotion hunt should be dealing with a very average side. Credit to Hayes for trying to pass their way down the pitch but unfortunately for them they came up against a side that is slowly working out how to use a mixture of playing styles to outwit defences.
There was tension in the stands as Town came out of the traps brighter and wriggled out a few decent chances without converting any of them. The worry was that Hayes would get one on the break and the match would turn into another salvage mission. Thankfully that scenario didn’t materialise when the previously transfer listed Rob Duffy notched an important goal on 32 minutes to give the Mariners a deserved lead.
Duffy fluffed the chance to make it two early in the second half after he got his legs in a tangle 10 yards out, but later in the very same phase of play he stooped low to head Liam Hearn’s clever run and cross into the far corner of the net. Of course, in normal circumstances a 2-0 lead is territory widely acknowledged as ‘comfortable’, but given that Town relinquished such a margin against Tamworth, Gateshead and Bath last season in front of the home fans under the stewardship of Scott and Hurst, murmurs of a repeat weren’t entirely quashed until Bradley Wood scored a bizarre third, four minutes from time. It was his first ever goal and so a yellow card for celebrating with the crowd seemed a bit harsh.
According to statistics from Sky Sports, Town had 23 shots at goal and 13 of those were on target. His late error apart, Hayes goalkeeper Steve Arnold had played well and was probably the reason why the scoreline wasn’t more eye-catching.
Six months ago Scott and Hurst arrived at Blundell Park promising a team of fully committed, hard working players that will be proud to wear the black and white stripes. Perhaps it’s been a little longer in coming than fans would have preferred, but today’s 3-0 win finally showed their work in progress. Hearn still needs a goal and Anthony Elding still needs to find his first touch, but there was enough evidence in this performance to suggest that fans can feel a bit more optimistic about the months ahead.