Broken bonds

The only two players whose names I’d have considered getting printed on the back of my replica shirt have now left the club.

Thanks Diz. Thanks Shaun. Thanks for the memories. Continue reading

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Wilted spinach. Match report: Crewe 5-0 Grimsby

Every time I go to watch Grimsby Town play a match of association football, we’re shit. Totally shit. Absolutely hopeless.

Now, I know this isn’t a very fair reflection of where we are right now. We’re not shit, totally shit or absolutely hopeless, generally. We’re actually just six points outside the League 2 play-offs.

We’re only shit, totally shit and absolutely hopeless, it seems, when I’m in the stands. Continue reading

Grimsby Town are having to shoot 13 times before they score a goal

Black and white seatsYou can make statistics sing any tune you like, if you look hard enough. I’ve looked on the BBC Football website, so I’ll let you decide whether that’s staunch enough research. But what I discovered from the past four games – as if we needed someone like me to prove it – is that we’re not scoring enough from the chances we’re creating, and we’re conceding too often from the chances we’re giving away.

The numbers will back me up here. If you’re a Grimsby Town fan, this news won’t come as a shock to you. But since we all like numbers and the things they say, here are some you might find particularly interesting.

I decided to look at the last four games only – the draws against Lincoln and Torquay, and the defeats to Altrincham and Macclesfield.

In these games we’ve had a combined total of 53 shots and scored 4 times. At a rather disappointing conversion rate of 7.5% (that’s putting it mildly) it essentially means we’re having to shoot more than 13 times before we score a goal.

Compare that to the opposition’s conversion rate of 21%. They’ve scored 7 from 33 shots, which means they’re only having to shoot 5 times before they find the back of the net.

What’s slightly more revealing is the conversion rate from the shots on target. Our 4 goals from 18 shots gives us a success rate of 22% (so 4 times out of 5 our goal-bound shouts are being blocked, saved and cleared).

Our opposition’s 7 goals from 12 shots on target gives them a rather worrying success rate of 58% (meaning nearly 3 of every 5 shots they have at James McKeown are going in).

Now, this says one of three things – firstly, that McKeown isn’t having his best season. I think he’d probably admit that himself. Secondly, that the opposition are being unnaturally ruthless for this level of football, and they surely can’t continue at this rate. Possibly.

And thirdly, that we’re just going through an outrageously unlucky spell. I’ll let you decide on that.

How about the season as a whole?

Grimsby: 94 shots (38 on target) = 14 goals (14.9% of all shots, and 36.8% of shots on target are scored).

Opposition: 55 shots (24 on target) = 11 goals (20% of all shots, and 45.9% of shots on target are scored).

Clearly there are trends. While we’re attacking more, and shooting more, we’re just not scoring enough. We’re scoring 1 in 7 while the opposition are scoring 1 in 5. They’re simply being more accurate than we are.

If we were as ruthless as them – scoring 20% of all our shots, and 45.9% of those on target – we’d have between 17 and 19 goals for the season, rather than the 14 we currently have.

While it would be easy to blame the strikers, it’s actually quite difficult. Both Bogle and Amond have started well, scoring four goals each, and at 14 we’ve only scored one fewer than the division’s top scorers Wrexham. If we continue scoring at this rate we’ll finish the season with 100 goals.

Perhaps what needs addressing is the opposition’s much higher conversion rate. They’re not shooting as often as we are, but they’re getting them on target and making them count with much more efficiency. What’s that down to? Are they getting closer to goal before they shoot? Is that down to a lack of pressure in the box? Are we cutting out enough crosses? Is McKeown’s positioning up for debate?

It’s certainly food for thought for manager Paul Hurst.

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: February

James McKeown

Image taken from the Grimsby Telegraph.

He has been leading the way since October, but at the end of February Lenell John-Lewis was replaced at the top of the table by James McKeown. However, with just two points separating the top four players, it’s shaping up to be an interesting race to see who will be crowned the first ever Fantasy GTFC Player of the Season (FPOTS).

Town played five games in February, winning three and losing two. A couple of clean sheets against AFC Telford and Braintree has seen McKeown and the defensive line in front of him scoop a fair few points – particularly Carl Magnay, who claimed an assist for Craig Disley’s superb header against Braintree. That’s actually put him second, which means The Shop has slipped into third place.

Here’s what the table currently looks like:

Top 10 performing players as of the end of February 2015

The gap between fourth and fifth has opened up even more – from this table it’s clear to see which four players have made the biggest contribution this season. The only reason Disley isn’t up there is that his season didn’t really get going until October.

I started this Fantasy Football thing in the summer because I thought it would be fun. And also because I’m a nerd. However, I’ve been in two minds over how to measure it. Do I simply reward the player who scored the most points, or is it fairer to judge them on their points-per-game ratio?

I ask because the table looks different when you order the players based on their match averages:

Top 10 best performing players based on points per game.

This second route is kinder to the likes of Jon-Paul Pittman and Nathan Arnold, because as their averages show they usually make a contribution when they play.

But if we take the second route, we are faced with the distinct possibility that Aswad Thomas could end up winning the bloody thing – and we can’t have that. But maybe I should just dismiss anyone who isn’t at the club and give it to whoever is next in line – which means Arnold is still in contention.

If you have an opinion, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@RichMariner). I’ll be back at the start of April to bring you March’s report.

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: September table

A couple of weeks ago I wondered who would be top of the table if fantasy football points were applied to Grimsby Town players. So I did some research. Rather ambitiously, I suggested I would publish an updated player table after every game – but that was never going to happen, so I’m doing it at the end of every month.

For those of you who read my first article on this topic (which also explained the scoring system), you’ll remember that, not surprisingly, Scott Neilson was leading the way – with James McKeown not far behind. Well, we’ve played Chester and Southport since then, so how have those two contrasting results affected the top five?

Screenshot of Top 5 players for September

In short, not a lot has changed – except that McKeown has now drawn level on points with Neilson (who retains top spot by virtue of his excellent average). Magnay remains third, and despite a drop in average Lenell John-Lewis remains fourth.

Craig Clay is a new entrant at five, replacing the injured John-Paul Pittman (who slips to 8th but with the best average score in the entire squad of 5.29). Not that we needed these statistics to claim it, but we’re really missing him at the moment.

With four league games and an FA Cup fourth qualifying round match to come in October, I’ll be back at the end of the month with an updated league table. In the meantime, feel free to discuss this article below (or on The Fishy, if you must).

Late penalty save denies Dover unlikely win

Match action as seen from the Pontoon stand behind the goal.Just when I was starting to believe that Grimsby Town were heading for their third successive goalless draw to begin the season, John-Paul Pittman’s arse deflected Paddy McLaughlin’s 20-yard shot to get the Mariners’ campaign up and running. But then some naive defending allowed Dover to draw level, and they should have won it in injury time but for James McKeown’s heroic penalty save.

Town’s makeshift 3-5-2 formation featured Carl Magnay on the right wing, with McLaughlin on the left. After playing pre-season in the centre, the Northern Irishman has found himself out on the left again, where he clearly doesn’t want to be. There was no genuine width going up the pitch – and with Pittman, Nathan Arnold and James Mackreth on the bench, Town were completely devoid of pace too.

Dover were very average, and although they created one or two decent chances in a largely forgettable first half there was a point in the second when they became happy to sit back and settle for the point. But then Pittman’s posterior broke the deadlock – and from that point the Mariners should never have allowed Athletic to equalise.

But they did. One of three Town players had a chance to deposit Christian Nanetti into the lower Findus stand with just minutes remaining, but the Italian wriggled free and broke away to square for Matt Lock, who slipped the ball low past McKeown to level the scores.

Although the Mariners were far from fluent, they’d probably worked hard enough to earn the win, but that goal was difficult to take for all in Blundell Park – especially Paul Hurst, who let his feelings be known in the post-match press conference.

And it could have got worse when Andrew Boyce was adjudged by the referee, who was inconsistent all afternoon, to have hauled down someone in a pink shirt on the edge of the six-yard box in injury time. Having watched the highlights, the Dover player does throw himself to the ground rather theatrically, but Hurst appeared to have no problem with the decision. For some reason, the referee only booked Boyce, even though he was the last man, which sort of summed up his performance.

McKeown showed why he’s the best keeper in the Conference by diving low to his right to push Nanetti’s spot kick around the post.

At the start of the game we were discussing our embarrasssment of riches in central defence, and at half time Boyce, Toto Nsiala and Shaun Pearson were making defending look like a piece of cake. It was difficult to see how Dover were going to get a sniff of a chance. But at the other end Alan Connell continued to look rusty while Lenell John-Lewis’s endeavour went unrewarded, hitting the post and firing wide when well placed.

Scott Brown was industrious in the centre of the park, while Craig Clay was largely anonymous. Craig Disley was somewhere in between.

Hurst hasn’t had the luxury of playing his strongest side this season, what with his pacy players all out injured and Scott Neilson suspended. Now that Aswad Thomas is out for at least six weeks it presents another conundrum for a manager who hasn’t had much luck with injuries this month. It makes one wonder whether pre-season training was overly rigorous, or whether we just have injury prone players.

All in all the game wasn’t short of action once it woke from its slumber, but the 3-5-2 didn’t work and was crying out for some pace and genuine width. Balls into the channels weren’t chased and Connell and John-Lewis don’t look close to establishing an effective strike partnership. Pittman looked lively when he came on, which at least provides some comfort.

All That and a Bag of Chips’ Man of the Match: Toto Nsiala