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GUEST REPORTER: Ryan Petterson

14 November 2016

Guest reporter Ryan Petterson's view on the 2-2 draw with Barnet.

Marcus Bignot had to settle for a draw in his first league game as Grimsby Town manager, despite the Mariners having a two-goal lead at half-time.

Omar Bogle opened the scoring midway through the first half before getting a second shortly after. 

But Barnet fought back and John Akinde got his side level again through two penalties just 10 minutes into the second half.

And Town had a huge chance to regain the lead at the death but Bogle’s penalty flew over. 

Bignot, who was welcomed by almost 5,500 ecstatic home fans pre-match, chose a fairly familiar starting XI but there was no place for Dom Vose or Rhys Browne.

James McKeown started in goal with Zak Mills, Danny Collins, Josh Gowling, and Danny Andrew making up the back line. 

James Berrett, Brandon Comley, and Luke Summerfield were the three central midfielders while Ashley Chambers and Kayden Jackson played either side of Bogle in the three-pronged attack.

Goalkeeping coach Andy Warrington was on the bench with defenders Andrew Boyce, Shaun Pearson, and Dan Jones, who was recently recalled from his loan at Gateshead.

And club captain Craig Disley was also watching from the dugout alongside winger Tom Bolarinwa and striker Scott Vernon.

Ex-Mariners forwards Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Ben Tomlinson started on the bench for Barnet as Akinde, the league’s top scorer, started as their lone striker.

Bignot’s preferred style of play was clear to see from the start as Town pressed high, looked to win the ball in the middle and try to get it to the front three as quickly as possible. 

Town’s work rate was through the roof and all players worked hard to regain possession, with Jackson making frequent sprints all the way to the right-back position to win the ball back and put Barnet back under pressure.

But it wasn’t just the attacking options that looked good. Town’s back four all made great last-ditch challenges to prevent Akinde being one-on-one with McKeown. 

The first real chance of the match came in the 14th minute as Bogle’s quick feet earned Town a free kick slightly to the right of the area. And the striker took the set piece, sending it curling towards the top-right corner but Jamie Stephens managed to get his fingertips to it. 

But the breakthrough finally came eight minutes later as Bogle chased down a loose ball, which was seemingly going out for a throw-in, skipped past two defenders, and placed it past Stephens into the top-right corner with his, weaker, right foot.
And Town continued to knock on the Bees’ door as they searched for a second. 

Chambers looked very sharp, despite being out injured for over a month. The winger showed he wasn’t scared to use his skill and run at defenders, and he almost scored in the 26th minute but Stephens came off his line to tighten the angle and managed to get down low to it.

But Town finally got their second in the 35th minute as Bogle capitalised on Barnet captain Michael Nelson’s poor control and raced away with the ball. The striker then calmly slotted it past Stephens to give the Mariners a two-goal cushion and increase his league total to 11 goals. 

Just two minutes later, though, Barnet almost got one back through winger Mauro Vilhete but McKeown had it covered.

And the keeper was tested again in the 43rd minute, but this time it was a free kick by ex-Leicester City midfielder Ryan Watson. 

Watson curled it right of the wall and it seemed destined for the bottom-right corner but McKeown got down well and ensured Town were 2-0 up at the break.

Akpa Akpro came on for Harry Taylor at half-time as Martin Allen’s side looked to go more attacking and get back in the game.

But straight from kick-off, the Bees almost conceded again as Comley’s powerful volley went just wide of the left post, to the relief of the 70 travelling away fans.

And Allen made another substitution two minutes later but this time it was like-for-like, regarding positions, as he replaced left-back Elliot Johnson with long-throw specialist Sam Muggleton. 

Barnet got a foothold in the game in the 50th minute as Gowling fouled Akinde inside the penalty area. And the striker subsequently converted the penalty, side-footing it to the bottom-left corner and sending McKeown the wrong way. 

Bignot made his first sub of the game two minutes later as he brought on Bolarinwa for Chambers, and pushed Jackson over to the left side.

And Barnet got their chance to draw level in the 55th minute as Collins brought down Curtis Weston in the penalty area. Akinde stepped up to take the penalty again and put it in the back of the net to make it 2-2. 

He placed it in the same position as his first and this time McKeown went the right way but he couldn’t do enough to keep it out.

The visitors looked more dangerous than they did in the first period and Bignot made another sub in the 57th minute, bringing Disley on for Berrett.

And the skipper almost made an instant impression on his new manager with one of his first touches on the hour mark. He found space outside the box and side-footed it with accuracy but it went inches wide of the right post.

Town began to make their way back into the game through good play down the right wing between Bolarinwa and Mills. The pair worked well to find space but Mills’s long-range across-goal shot was curling too far to the left and it went off target. 

And Bogle almost got his hat-trick in the 76th minute as he took it past Stephens, leaving an open goal, but he could only find the side-netting.

With Town’s final change of personnel in the 79th minute, which saw Vernon come on for Jackson, Bignot reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 with Comley playing wide left and Bolarinwa on the right, and Bogle and Vernon partnering up front.

Just as the game was settling down and both sides looked even, more late drama ensued as referee Seb Stockbridge gave Ali Sesay a straight red for his foul on Scott Vernon in the 90th minute.

And it almost got worse for Barnet two minutes later as Michael Nelson pushed Gowling in the box and the Mariners were awarded a penalty. 

Bogle stepped up as he eyed up his second league hat-trick this season but he sent it just over the bar, and Stockbridge blew the final whistle a couple of minutes later.

After the game, new Mariners boss Bignot said he felt his players gave everything they had and felt he ‘couldn’t have asked for any more.’ But he also said it would have been a dreamlike win if Bogle had scored the penalty at the end.

“If that went in, it would have been a fairytale start to my managerial career at Grimsby Town,” he said.

Bignot also praised Town fans for their appreciation of the club’s top scorer, Bogle.

He said: “The way the supporters showed their support to Omar (Bogle), that’s probably the moment of the game for me.”

The Mariners, now seventh in the league (the last play-off place), travel to top of the table Plymouth next Saturday as they look to get their first win under new manager Bignot

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