I’m not sure what was more brutal – The Revenant, which I watched on Friday night, or the physiotherapy I endured on Saturday morning. I’d never had physio before and I must admit, I’d grossly underestimated the whole experience. By the end of it I kind of knew how Di Caprio felt after being thrown around by that bear.
So in complete agony I drove back to Blundell Park where more pain was inflicted upon me as I had the misfortune to watch the Mariners put in a nothing performance and lose 2-0 against Coventry in front of a decent crowd (6,767).
I’ll openly admit that I hadn’t followed Town’s ins and outs very closely over the summer, so when the players kicked off it took me a little time to work out who was who and where they were meant to be playing. By the final whistle I’d just about worked out who was who but I was none the wiser as to where they were meant to be playing. We were all over the shop. The players looked like they’d skipped any sort of pre-season, where you’d normally expect them to work on things like shape, discipline and communication, and basically played 90 minutes of a clippy-hoof-no-plan-B brand of football that you’d expect if the worst parts of Hurst and Bignot had morphed into one being and became our manager for the day.
There were two players too good for League 2 on the pitch: Jodi Jay Felice Jones of Coventry City and Siriki Dembele of Grimsby Town. Everyone else either chose to play like League 2 cloggers because that’s exactly what they are, or they couldn’t be arsed.
In truth, the first half was an awful game of football. It was the sort of game that made you wonder why you spend all summer looking forward to football returning, because it was shit. Dembele got a few fans out of their seats with a stirring run before playing in Jones, but he dragged his shot wide. In the second half, Jones would blast two efforts over the bar – one of which he really should’ve got on target – and that was it from us in attack. It’s unlikely that their keeper will have an easier day.
Cardwell, up top on his own? It was painful to watch.
Dembele drifted and occasionally darted, but for all the skill that he showed he didn’t ever hurt the Coventry defence. And while Jones was the only Town player to take a shot at goal all afternoon, I’m not convinced his best role is in attacking midfield. He did enough last season to prove he’s got what it takes to be a striker in this division. We should play him there, with Vernon if possible. They looked like they struck up an understanding when paired together against Yeovil last season but they’ve barely been partnered together since.
As for Berrett, I only noticed him twice all afternoon and they were for the two yellow cards he picked up.
Coventry’s opener wasn’t controversial; it simply shouldn’t have stood. The referee had been quite fussy all game about taking free kicks from the correct position, so when Clark knocked the ball back for McKeown to take our free kick from the correct position, the ref suddenly didn’t care about us being 10 yards further up the pitch – or that McNulty, who went on to walk the ball into an empty net, was stood just two yards away when the kick was taken.
But there can be absolutely no doubt that Coventry deserved the win. They finished the first half stronger and were in complete control once they’d taken that lead. They forced McKeown into two good saves – one in each half – and they perhaps had one of the clearest penalties I’ve ever seen at Blundell Park not given when the deadlock was yet to be broken.
However, Town were so inept that it’s difficult to tell how good Coventry are, or what they’re likely to achieve this season. If they go on to win the title, or get promoted, then there’s no shame in losing 2-0 at home to them, but I suspect we’ve got a lot more to show in the games to come.