You could argue that the defending was marginally better than it had been, but in truth there was still too much defending to do. Once again the Mariners followed up a good 5-2 home win with a disappointing 2-1 away defeat in which they threw away the lead. York City deserved the victory on the balance of play as they created more chances and exploited Town’s lack of pace in the back four – particularly in the first half. A reshuffle at the break saw Town put in a more competitive performance in the second half but a bad miss by Anthony Elding minutes after coming on as a substitute for the hard working Rob Duffy proved costly as the Minstermen nicked it four minutes from time through a smart turn and finish inside the box former Mariner loanee Ashley Chambers.
Despite club captain Craig Disley’s debut goal for the Mariners after just three minutes, the first half belonged to York. They kept possession in the Town half and worked the channels through Chambers down the left and Jason Walker down the right. Lee Ridley was seemingly singled out by the hosts as they continued to knock balls over his head for Walker to run on to. The hosts clearly had a shoot-on-site policy as McKeown was forced into a number of saves – albeit comfortable ones – as York sought to restore parity with plenty of shots from the edge of the area.
McKeown kept Town in front with a superb point blank save but York continued pressing and the equaliser wasn’t entirely unexpected when it arrived, however it took an excellent finish from York’s top scorer Walker whose overhead kick from Silk’s poor headed clearance went in off the far post. Scott and Hurst’s decision to match York’s 4-3-3 formation clearly wasn’t working and the Mariners could count themselves lucky that they went into the break on level terms.
With Liam Hearn up front alongside Duffy and Frankie Artus moving out onto the left of a midfield four, Town looked more balanced in the second half. Elding should have put the Mariners ahead after Disley nicked the ball 25 yards out and fed a cute ball through to the striker but, with possibly too much time to think about his next move, the striker pulled his right foot shot wide. It was a crucial miss as Chambers took his chance well to win it late on for York.
You never had the confidence in Town’s defence to hold out for the draw, despite a decent second half performance from the back four as they limited York’s seemingly endless joy down the flanks. Both Kempson and Garner put their bodies on the line, making excellent interventions and blocks, but ultimately they had too much work to do as York kept pressing. Only when they went behind with just a few minutes remaining did Town push forward with any urgency.
York looked like they had the better players. They looked technically superior with pace out wide and at the back. Town looked like a team with limited ability but plenty of effort. Only McKeown and Disley played well consistently throughout the match, with fleeting moments of good play from Hearn and Coulson. Church, Duffy and the two centre backs worked hard, while it was a game to forget for Artus and the two full backs.
On this evidence Town will continue to struggle against the sides above them in the league, but the managers have at least put together a side that will battle for 90 minutes and give plenty of effort. Sadly, while that might have been enough to get a team out of the lower tiers of non-league, it’s not enough to get teams out of the Conference, therefore Scott and Hurst will have to adapt and learn new skills if they have real ambitions of getting Grimsby Town back into the Football League.