Blimey, that was hard work. Over the 90 minutes Grimsby just about deserved the victory but as visiting sides go, AFC Telford were one of the more organised from the lower half of the table. We got the three points in the end and moved closer to the play-offs after Kidderminister, Cambridge and Gateshead all lost, but the players had to put in a proper shift.
At half time the discussion centred around whether we should be grateful for it to still be 0-0. Although Telford came with a plan to frustrate us, they had actually played most of their football in our half and could’ve grabbed themselves a couple of goals. Town certainly weren’t as fluent as they have been during this remarkable run of form, and that could partly be attributed to Telford doing their homework. For the third game running, Town went with the same starting XI. Our tactic of hitting the ball forward early to the front men was nullified by the Telford defence, who read the situation and kept tight to their men. Town’s lack of pace at the back was exposed on a couple of occasions and as the first half grew older I was more than happy to see the Mariners leave the field with the scoreline goalless.
One of the key differences between this current Town crop and ones that have come before it is the work ethic. While little mistakes were still happening in the second half the players were performing with more urgency. A good three minute spell early in the half helped get the crowd going and the intensity grew as the match wore on.
After about 65 minutes it became clear that Telford had tried their best offensively to get something from the game and were now happy to sit on a point. Elding, who had been mostly ineffective, was replaced by Duffy and he headed home an excellent Hearn cross to break the deadlock. The goal had been coming. Hearn played his part in the second goal too when his pass released Thanoj, who slid the ball across the area for Artus to swivel and tuck home his debut goal for the Mariners late on.
I imagine that Telford boss Andy Sinton will be a little disappointed that his side didn’t hold out for a draw. Their first half performance was impressive given their league position and record of just one league win on the road all season, but when Town upped the tempo in the second half it felt increasingly likely that it would be the home side who would get the all important goal. The Bucks had enough chances to score but didn’t take any of them. Had they scored first, I doubt we’d be talking about a Grimsby victory right now.
I thought both centre backs were excellent, particularly Garner. Elding wasn’t really at the races and both Disley and Coulson struggled to play with any consistency, although that isn’t to say they were bad. After a slightly unsteady start, both fullbacks Townsend and Silk played well, while Artus and Thanoj gave good accounts of themselves.
I know this might be a bit predictable but for me Liam Hearn put in the man of the match performance. His first touch, awareness, and decision making were all excellent, and he played his part in both goals. He didn’t really get one decent chance but showed a willingness to drift wide and make space for himself to tee up others. If the ball went to him, it stayed with him and something happened.
As for our poor old Wolves friend who attended the game… He tried to get the fans singing with a rendition of “Oh when the Town go steaming in” and he made the mistake of saying ‘marching‘ in. It’s just not right, is it?