FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Gainsborough Trinity (0) 0
Hinckley United (1) 1 (Andre Gray 30)
Admission £10, Programme £2.50, Attendance 321
Today, in my uneducated opinion, saw the home side collectively and simultaneously fail to get going from the very start of the game right through until the final whistle.
They seemed lacking in desire and purpose for most of the afternoon if truth be told.
I suppose one could say, if the players are going to have an off day then they might as well all get it out of the way at once ... but it made for a very tedious 90 minutes for those of us who had paid to get in to the Northolme to watch a game of football ... or at least something loosely resembling one.
I can't imagine the blustery conditions out on the park made ball control very easy, but football is a winter sport and the players should be used to adapting to such conditions.
Gainsborough certainly had the chances early in the game (and right at the end) to have won this Trophy tie comfortably.
But though one could say they didn't get the rub of the green at key moments, you could also say the final touch was always missing, the application in the final third was woeful and the cohesion between the attacking players non existent at times.
It was almost as if their players didn't believe they had it in them to win this game.
A defeatist mindset seems to be creeping in to a team who haven't won a game in their last six outings now, a barren run that consists of one draw and five defeats.
You can almost see the confidence draining out of one or two of the Trinity players.
Steve Housham must now be a psychologist, as well as a manager and re-instil some self belief to his charges, reminding them they are still the same team who recently went on a run of decent wins which culminated in a 6-1 away victory at Eastwood Town.
Hinckley never created a great deal of chances today, but when Kenny Arthur pushed Andy Gooding's free kick around the post on 19 minutes, it should have been a wake up call to the Blues, that if they didn't apply the advantage they should have had by then, they could come unstuck at the other end.
On the half hour mark, Kenny Arthur found his goal under attack from Jacob Joyce and Andre Gray.
Joyce was in possession so Arthur opted to cut out his route, but the visitors number 9 slipped the ball to his sidekick Gray, who fired the ball home for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Four minutes later the same pair repeated their two pronged surge into the box, but this time Gray passed the ball sideways to Joyce who took the ball a stride too far and Arthur was able to cut out the danger.
From then on in, Trinity did get the ball into the visitors box quite regularly (they even had goals ruled out for offside at the end of both halves), but the United defence were clearing their lines with consummate ease and repelled any minor threat the home side created without too much fuss.
And the longer this went on, the more frantic and less measured the Trinity became in their approach.
At times, they resorted to hitting long balls, which the Hinckley defence could've dealt with all afternoon if they needed to.
Amidst a goalmouth scramble, on 75 minutes the ball thumped against the inside of Hinckley's woodwork and was cleared off the line. If the ball wasn't going in from that sort of range, then it never was.
I heard a Trinity fan say on the way out that Hinckley's keeper had been given the afternoon off and hadn't had much to do. I'm not sure which game he had been watching, because Denham Hinds in the Knitters goal had made several saves in the first twenty minutes and a really good one right near the end of the game.
Though the ball had been kicked straight at him for a couple of those blocks, so maybe 'Angry of Ropery Road' hadn't counted them.
As a neutral, the game was disappointing and frustrating to watch in equal measure, so lord knows what this (non) performance must've been like from the perspective of my Trinity supporting friends who endured it.
This was the third defeat they've seen on home turf in the last eleven days.
Gainsborough now have a week off before their away trip to Corby Town, a team who are snapping at their heels, just a point behind them in the Blue Square North table.
They really need to start taking a bit of individual and collective responsibility on board, whilst getting a bit of a 'back to basics' kick up the backside in training.
It is worth remembering that Trinity are still fifth in the table, after a couple of disappointing league campaigns under their previous manager.
And the FA Trophy is probably a competition they weren't realistically likely to win anyway, so without the distraction of any fixture congesting cup run to work around, they can now get their their heads together, knuckle down and focus on finishing as high in the league table as possible.
This season is far from over yet and there is no time like the present for addressing the recent blip in form before it gets out of hand.
Note, though I've rambled on, I haven't actually written very much about the game itself ... well, that's because there wasn't a great deal to write about.
Gainsborough's ever increasing army of young fansTo be frank, but perfectly fair too, it was a chronic game.
Positives from today ... Hmm, home by five past five, it didn't rain, the beer (and clientèle) in the Blues club were very agreeable and I must mention the match day programme, which improves both layout and content wise, every time I visit the Northolme ... keep up the good work Jacob Marshall!