Grimsby Town showed their quality to inflict an 8-0 defeat on the Owls. Four goals in each half, including hat-tricks from James Hanson and Max Wright, ensured the Mariners gained ample revenge for last year’s shock 4-3 loss in the corresponding fixture. To further compound the difficult opening to the 2019/20 campaign, defender Paul Walker suffered a serious looking injury.
Manager Dave Smith selected 17 players, all of whom would see some action during the 90 minutes. Six debutants were included – Lewis Exall, Adam Millson, Conor Marshall, Ben Clappison, Jaime Ture and Danny Jewell. Out of last season’s regulars, Tim Lowe and Jon Oglesby were absent.
The side lined up as follows:
Goal: Lewis Exall
Defence: Adam Millson, Paul Walker, Oli Donald, Conor Marshall
Midfield: Liam Dickens, Alex Flett (c), Lewis Collins
Attack: Brody Robertson, Scott Vernon, Josh Batty
Subs: Andy Taylor, Jack Boswell, Liam Dickens, Ben Clappison, Jaime Ture, Danny Jewell
A very large crowd was in place by 3pm, with expectation high on the local football scene that both clubs would enjoy a successful season at their respective levels.
The opening phase was fairly even and gave little indication of the goal glut ahead. The highlight was a superb cross-field ball from captain Flett to find Roberston on the left flank. However, stopper McKeown comfortably dealt with the striker’s low shot.
In the 11th minute though, the Mariners struck. A cross from Ogbu near the right by-line was fired against the crossbar and Matt Green was on hand to mop up the crumbs.
Clee responded in positive fashion and a free-kick from Batty had to be helped behind by McKeown. This proved to be a brief respite however, as the visitors doubled their advantage with 19 played. James Hanson shot home from the edge of the area. The ball appeared to take a deflection on the way into Exall’s net.
Shortly after this setback, Clee were forced into a reshuffle due to injuries to Conor Marshall and Paul Walker respectively. Given the amount of new personnel arriving over the Summer, it was little surprise that the Owls were struggling somewhat to gel as a unit.
With the interval looming, James Hanson helped himself to two more goals to complete his hat-trick. Firstly, the big number 9 headed in a left-wing cross from 10 yards and then, in an action replay, the striker rose highest on the 6-yard line to complete the first-half action.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Grimsby Town 4 (Green 11, Hanson 19, 39, 45)
The Mariners made wholesale substitutions at the interval and the first 10 minutes after the break was low-key. This all changed with 56 on the watch, as a Max Wright shot was deflected beyond Exall, after a fine run from the promising youngster.
Clee had no time to draw breath, with a further three goals following in a crazy five-minute spell. Akheem Rose joined the fun by heading home a right-wing cross. Then, with the scoreboard operator working overtime to keep pace with proceedings, Max Wright netted twice in 60 seconds to record a second hat-trick of the day for the Mariners.
The seventh goal was the pick of the afternoon. Cutting in from the right apex of the box, Wright curled delightfully into the top corner. Buoyed by this excellent strike, the young man was soon on the end of a fast break to slot low into the net.
With the best part of half an hour still to play, the Owls seemed set to be on the wrong end of a double-figure scoreline. To their enormous credit though, the home side dug in to prevent further damage. They were indebted to Exall in the 79th minute, with the keeper producing a nimble tip-over. Indeed, even though he had been beaten eight times, the ex-North Ferriby United stopper had produced some notable saves.
No more clear chances before the referee called time. As the players headed for the dressing room, Clee could reflect that, after this very tough baptism to the season, they would not come up against as good a team as the impressive Mariners during the next 10 months.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Grimsby Town 8 (Green 11, Hanson 19, 39, 45, Wright 56, 61, 62, Rose 58) Attendance: 1800
A bruising afternoon in more ways than one! Several injuries, the most serious to Paul Walker, and an 8-goal defeat was not on anyone’s agenda for the opening salvo of the campaign.
However, there is always a danger in this kind of fixture that the professional outfit will catch fire and simply blow their opponents away. The Mariners looked miles better to me than they did 12 months ago. Notwithstanding this, there are definitely lessons to be learnt.
Still, another 7 outings before the League starts on 17th August, so there is plenty of time to mould an effective side and it should be an interesting test at South Shields next weekend.
I thought Linden looked superb yesterday – a real credit to all involved! Finally, best wishes to Paul Walker for a speedy recovery.
Saturday 13th July – 3pm
South Shields – Jak Fada Memorial Trophy
Mariners Park, Shaftesbury Avenue, South Shields, NE32 3UP
To be confirmed
UP THE OWLS!