Pain and agony. Match report: Grimsby 0-2 Coventry

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.


Who tampered with the script? Match report: Grimsby 2-2 Barnet

Nightmare’s over – I’m back!

What? You haven’t missed me? Well that’s a bit rude. You’d think, after gaining record hits on my last article, that I’d write more regularly (especially now that we’re back in the Football League).

But no.

I’m complicated, like tax returns. Life isn’t straightforward, and neither is supporting Grimsby.

Grimsby aren’t straightforward. If we were, we’d have won today’s match against Barnet. Bogle would’ve scored that penalty and we’d have all walked home, admiring each breath we saw before us in the cold air as we declared, in unison, that the script had been written.

Sadly, the editor-in-chief decided to tamper with the script and added a ballsack of a twist at the end.

The back five appears to pick itself at the moment. I couldn’t quite work out what was going on in midfield, but somewhere among Comley, Summerfield, Chambers and Berrett we had two occupying wide-ish positions. One was Chambers, but god knows who the other was.

Bogle had Jackson alongside him up front.

I’ve yet to see a Barnet team turn up at Blundell Park and play anything other than a brand of football that’s perfectly capable of sending a teenager high on energy drinks to sleep.

I really don’t remember much about what happened before Blur’s Bogle opened the scoring with a steely run down the left and a competent finish with his right.

Neither side had looked particularly good, but we took it alright.

Ah yes, I do remember something – Bogle had a free kick tipped over the bar. But we’re talking about what happened when we were 1-0 up now. We’ve moved on.

A little dink down the line from Andrew was miscontrolled by one of their huge defenders, and that gave Bogle just enough time to take it on and finish powerfully into the bottom corner to double Town’s advantage.

Ah, welcome the Barnet of old! The one that collapses like an England batting line-up in Bangladesh.

We afforded them too much possession before the break, but they had yet to seriously threaten McKeown in goal. They won a series of free kicks for being a bit floppy 40 yards out, but none caused any genuine danger.

What do you say to a team that’s 2-0 up at half time to keep them focused?

In complete contrast to the first, the second half got interesting within eight seconds when Comley had sight of goal from 14 yards but dragged his effort wide.

Then the penalties happened.

Gowling lost the shoulder-barge contest with Akinde down the left, and in an attempt to recover the situation he put in a very Gowling-like challenge in a very Gowling-like area, just the wrong side of the 18-yard line.

Turf, say hello to Akinde. Akinde, say hello to – oh, you know each other. Hang on, say again?! How many times???

Akinde ambled forward and stroked the ball into the left corner, possibly with his eyes closed.

His next one had a little more purpose – after Collins had hooked his legs around someone trying to cut back inside – and it was just enough to evade capture from Jimmy Mac.

I bet someone in the Soccer Saturday studio said it was a Desmond. They love a 2-2.

Right, let’s stop being silly now. Let’s not throw this away.

Barnet had a great chance to take the lead, but someone stood in a very dangerous position and looking worryingly unmarked got over-excited at the thought of scoring and scooped his effort over the bar.

That seemed to wake the Mariners up. We now had Bolarinwa on for Chambers, and he soon got booked for having the temerity to get fouled by Barnet’s left back. The referee, whose name I didn’t bother to learn, clearly thought that giving the away team two penalties hadn’t yet put him centre of attention (because both penalties were probably correct) so he started being weird.

We also had Disley on for Berrett, but sadly he wasn’t able to affect the game much.

With time running out, Vernon was introduced for Jackson and a more direct approach seemed to be creating a couple of half chances – but shots were a bit wild and few seemed to work the keeper.

A Barnet player got sent off for what looked to be a lunge. I’ll be honest; I missed that one.

Then, with injury time announced as five minutes, Gowling received a good old fashioned shove from his marker as a Zak Mills punt floated into the Barnet area, and the referee pointed to the spot.

Omar’s totally got this. His confidence is sky high. Hat-trick in his first game under his new, old boss.

There is literally no way this isn’t hitting the back of the net.

Someone in row M caught the ball and threw it back down for a goal kick.

And that was that. We’d scored two goals from open play in a league match since 1974, so that was good, but the absence of calm heads from our two centre halves cost us two points more than Omar’s miss did.

It’s early days of course, but already this team looks like it’s been given a bit more freedom in the final third. Omar seemed to have a licence to do what he liked, and it was mostly good. He was an absolute nuisance for their back line.

Elsewhere, Mills put in another accomplished performance, and Comley looks a well balanced footballer, capable of playing much higher than League 2. He and Summerfield took good care of possession, and while I’m a fan of Berrett I’m not sure he’s being played in the position that suits him most.

It should’ve been three points, it wasn’t… but Marcus’s regime started with an entertaining game, a few goals, a decent crowd, a good atmosphere, plenty of talking points – and he clapped when we sang his name.