Saturday, 6 May 2017

Grimsby Town 1 v Plymouth Argyle 1 - EFL League 2

Saturday 6th May 2017
Grimsby Town (1) 1
Shaun Pearson 1
Plymouth Argyle (0) 1
Jimmy Spencer 60
Admission £20. Programme £3
Attendance: 6,866 inc. 1,900 away
Grimsby Town:
James McKeown, Ben Davies (Andrew Boyce 51), Shaun Pearson, Danny Collins, Danny Andrew, Sean McAllister, Craig Disley (Brandon Comley 90), Chris Clements; Tom Bolarinwa (Jamie Osborne 66), Calum Dyson, 3Sam Jones.
Unused subs - Josh Gowling, Scott Vernon, Daniel Jones, Adi Yussuf
Plymouth Argyle:
Luke McCormick, Gary Miller, Yann Songo’o, Sonny Bradley, Gary Sawyer, David Fox (Connor Smith 83), Antoni Sarcevic, Jordan Slew (Nathan Blissett HT), Graham Carey, Matty Kennedy (Jimmy Spencer 60), Ryan Taylor.
Unused subs - Ryan Donaldson, Oscar Threlkeld, Vincent Dorel, Jakub Sokolik.
Today was the day, that Plymouth could've been confirmed as League 2 champions with a win at Blundell Park and a sold out visiting supporters end of the ground had come to party.
As things unfolded, Portsmouth took the title on goal difference as the 'Green Army' saw their team held to a draw by Russel Slade's Mariners.
In the event, this evenings final whistle marked the first time that Pompey have occupied the top spot all season, in a title race that was regarded by many for a long time as a two horse race, between Argyle and Doncaster Rovers, who both claimed promotion several weeks ago, but let the Hampshire based team blind side them and slip past on the railings in the final furlong.
For the record, the final thirty three minutes of Portsmouth's 6-1 win over Cheletenham Town today, is the exact amount of time that they have spent at the top of the pile since August, evidently Paul  Cook has a great sense of timing.
But after six miserable years in the basement division, I would imagine that missing out on the actual title is bearable for Plymouth's supporters, when measured against the two season's when they flirted with relegation and finished twenty first in the table.
And lets not forget, at the outset of the current season, the Pilgrims were actually in 92nd place in the whole league for a couple of weeks, until they finally got off to a delayed start.
Argyle have won thirteen of their away games this season, yet as a mark of how close the margins are in this division, where any team can get a result against any other when push comes to shove, they were turned over by three goals to nil at Fratton Park by Leyton Orient, who have been  relegated out of the Football League, along with Hartlepool United... unbelievable Jeff!
Outside the ground, on the side street leading up to the visitors turnstiles, a group of Plymouth fans stopped outside a house that was decked out in party balloons and 'Two today!' banners and sang 'Happy birthday' to the bemused family and friends of the two year old girl whose parents had put on a party for.
Which kind of illustrated the laid back tone of the atmosphere around Blundell Park at around 5pm, half a hour before kick off, although there was a big police presence patrolling the immediate area too. Not they they were actually needed.
While drinking my pre-match extra strong coffee on the upper tier balcony overlooking the teams warming up, an octogenarian Mariners supporter struck up a conversation about  Craig Disley, the evergreen thirty five year old Grimsby midfielder who used to play for Mansfield Town and Bristol Rovers: "Aye! He's an old 'un, but he's a good 'un. It can't be long 'til he retires now I reckon, but he's been a great asset to Town"... this made me feel rather old myself, given that I remember Disley as a promising young footballer, who was in the year above my daughter at school.
What a great crop of youngsters the Stags had back then, it's a shame that they all had to move on elsewhere to make their mark in the game, while that wanker of a chairman Keith f***ing Haslam, not only anchored the good ship MTFC in stormy waters, but almost sank her as well.
Look! It's mandatory to use nautical punnery, when you're stood gazing over the main stand roof, at the tankers and car transporters over yonder in the Humber Estuary.
Grimsby made the best possible start to the game, when, inside the opening minute, Shaun Pearson got onto the end of Danny Andrew's corner and bulged the roof of the net from close range, while Luke McCormick tracked the run of Sam Jones after deciding that he posed a greater threat.
McCormick did however redeem himself with a great save from Jones around the half hour mark
And Pearson, the goal scorer, almost became the creator, when he picked out Calum Dyson with a measured cross, but the Grimsby number twenty nine couldn't keep his shot on target..
At the other end, the home side obviously had a great deal of faith in their keepers ability to deal with long range free kicks as they kept breaking up Plymouth attacks with a series of fouls outside the area, but in the event James McKeown was actually very adept at defending set piece strikes and he denied Graham Carey with some top drawer saves.
Half time came and the home side had been good value for their single goal lead thus far.
HT: 1-1
After the interval, as expected, Plymouth upped their efforts as regards their attacking intentions and for the most part, kept the Mariners on the back foot.
McKeown v Carey, was getting personal by now, with the Mariners goalie's performance verging on showing off at times, one save in particular, right at the start of the second half, must've had Carey wondering if McKeown had activated some kind of force field around his goal.
With thirty minutes to go and news filtering through that Portsmouth were scoring goals for fun in their final league game, the Argyle manager Derek Adams sent on Jimmy Spencer to make up a three pronged attack, with twenty nine minutes to go, that tactical switch had paid off, when Spencer sprinted forward and spanked home the equalising goal.
Having been trailing for a hour, there only looked likely to be one winning team here today now, as Argyle set about the task of clinching the title with a renewed vigour, stretching their hosts to the limit.
Spencer played Ryan Taylor through on goal, but McKeown pulled off yet another quality save to deny him.
Carey tested the defiant keeper once again with a sweetly struck free kick but was, almost inevitably, thwarted by the Grimsby custodian.
Disley was trying to get Grimsby to find some kind of rhythm again, but his team mates weren't looking anything like as convincing as they had done before the interval now.
Antoni Sarcevic went agonisingly close to finding the winning touch, that would claim the League 2 trophy for Argyle, but his header cleared the bar and the ball ended up in the Pontoon End of the ground.
Stoppage time duly arrived and in the sixth added minute, the ball fell to Sonny Bradley and it was now or never... but that man McKeown was in a stubborn mood today and right at the death, he repelled Argyle one final time, and that was it.
FT: Grimsby Town 1 v Plymouth Argyle 1
Congratulations to Plymouth Argyle and Doncaster Rovers on their promotion to League 1 and a massive well done to Pompey for the way they kept pushing the issue right until the final day of the season to claim the title.
Blackpool, Carlisle United, Luton Town and Exeter City, will now take part in the League 2 play off lottery to determine who takes the fourth promotion spot.
Oh well, time to go and find my family, I hope they have enjoyed the day out in Cleethorpes that I have treated them too today.
Generosity is my middle name.
Man of the match Craig Disley. He played well, but I can only
assume that the people who voted didn't know the goalies name.