Month: August 2014

Grimsby Town Predictions for the 2014/15 Vanarama Conference Season

Here are some of my thoughts and predictions on the coming season for Grimsby Town and the Vanarama Conference 2014/15 season.

League Winners: Gateshead/Barnet

Gary Mills’ Gateshead went close last season after ending our own promotion challenge. And I expect them to be serious challengers this year. My alternative tip is Barnet. Martin Allen has made some good signings to add to the decent squad they already had. John Akinde and Charlie Macdonald up front looks a potent strike-force and I believe Bees Manager Allen has the mentality needed to be successful in this league.

Where Town will finish: 3rd

I think Town are set-up to remain consistent with previous years and achieve a place in the play-offs. We’ve made good additions in wide areas and we remain solid in central defence, but the lack of a prolific goalscorer will prevent the Mariners from winning the title.

Town’s Top Scorer: Ross Hannah

I would have been tempted to go for John-Paul Pittman but concerns over his fitness leave me unsure as to how many sustained runs in the starting eleven he will get over the season. He looks to be a real threat with his pace and power, and what possibly gives him an edge on Hamnah is that he looks to be able to create a chance for himself. Hannah is more reliant on service in the 18 yard box, but our improved quality/depth in wide areas should see him get plenty of chances to better his goals tally of last season.

Town’s Key Player: Lenell John-Lewis

I’ve gone for “The Shop” because as a regular in Hurst’s starting XI, if he can improve his goals record it could make all the difference this season. Most fans recognise the good work he does for the team. And the sensible amongst us will realise teams don’t often have 2 out-and-out goalscorers in their front two. In the past we’ve had the likes of Steve Livingstone, who never scored more than 10 goals in a season but played important role for the team and was widely adored by fans. Anyway, if John-Lewis can improve on his 6 league goals of last season, and get to 10-12, it could prove valuable in Town’s promotion push.

Key Summer Signing: Scott Brown

The central midfield area has been seen as the area needing improvement for years by GTFC fans. Scott Kerr was a very tactically intelligent player and comfortable on the ball last season. But with his declining fitness we probably signed him a few years too late. Brown looks like a player in a similar mould to Kerr, only much fitter and busier in the middle of the park. In the little I’ve seen of him so far, he looks very mobile, keen to get on the ball and use it well. He’s linked well with other clever players that are clearly on his wavelength, namely Scott Nielson, so I think he’s capable of living up to the fans’ expectations.

Town’s Most Carded Player: Shaun Pearson

Easy choice this one. Shaun Pearson as a regular first choice player should play all the games he is available for. He likes a tackle but unfortunately it is his mouth that gets him the most unnecessary bookings by way of dissent to the referee. Pearson is an excellent defender and we need him available as much possible. So I’m really hoping his suspension that caused him to sit out the decisive 2nd leg of the play-off semi-final has made him realise it is the silly bookings for dissent towards officials that cost him the chance to influence that important game. If Shaun can eradicate this part of his behaviour on the pitch, he could be a future Captain of the club because he already has the leadership qualities required.

Young Player to make an Impact: Paul Walker

The young right back appears physically ready to be thrown in at the deep end already. He didn’t look out of place in his appearances last season and right-back is again an area where we don’t have an outstanding player for the position so he has every chance of breaking through. His determined style rampaging up and down the right will win him plenty of fans no doubt.

Assist King: Jack Mackreth

I expect the pacey new right winger to make fools of many a left back in the Conference this season. His pace and direct running should get him into plenty of dangerous positions and then it will be down to him to pick out the head of John-Lewis, Hannah lurking in front of goal, or Disley arriving late in the box.

Do you agree or disagree with any of these predictions? It’d be good to hear some thoughts – leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

Advertisements

Will Connell be a Success on Return to Blundell Park?

So Grimsby Town have brought former striker Alan Connell back to the club on a “short-term” deal. But will he have the same impact as his previous spell at the Club?

image

In the 2010/11 season (Town’s first in the Conference) Connell was an ever-present in the side, scoring 25 league goals in 46 games. He scored more in that one season at Blundell Park than he did in the three seasons that followed combined – scoring 19 league goals during spells at Swindon, Bradford and Northampton over that period.

Of course, it is worth noting that he scored all of those 19 goals at a higher level (League Two) and also played just over a dozen times at League One level (without scoring) last season. In fact, Connell’s season at Grimsby was the only prolific goalscoring season of his career. So it isn’t really fair to say his goalscoring dried up after his spell at GTFC – it just reverted to what it was previously.

So is the Conference just the level that Connell thrives at? Or is Grimsby Town just the club where it all seems to click for him? Many players in the past have scored goals and been too good for what is now the Championship, but haven’t quite been good enough or scored goals in the Premier League (see Darren Huckerby). So similarly, there is every chance that Connell is at a level in the Conference where he can easily excel, as opposed to League Two where he finds goals harder to come by.

Another thing to point out, and a sign of the times perhaps, is that despite just a 3 year gap between his spells at GTFC, there is not a single player left at the club that was here during his first spell. This lessens the notion that he could fit straight in, although the other side of that is that the team, and indeed the squad, is a much stronger proposition than what he was part of here previously.

Connell, now 31, reportedly knew he wanted to leave the club half-way through his 1st spell and solitary season with us. And he signed for Northampton in January 2014 when he had a straight choice between the Cobblers or the Mariners. Northampton avoided relegation but Connell’s record of 0 goals in 16 appearances contributed to his release at the end of the season. His wish to leave relatively early into his previous spell with us coupled with his rejection of us last season leads me to believe that this “short-term” deal will remain exactly that. He was still without a club 24 hours before the Football League and Conference seasons kick off and this, I suspect, is seen by Connell as a chance to put himself in the shop window to try and earn a longer contract elsewhere. That maybe wouldn’t be a terrible thing for GTFC either. If he hits the ground running, hits the net with regularity, atttacts interest and moves on, then he would’ve helped us out during a striker shortage and hopefully helped us get points on the board in the process.

If I were Alan Connell, I’d have been asking to come back with a longer-term deal to the only club where he’s scored goals consistently.

As it is, it’s a short-term arrangement – probably just a rolling monthly or weekly contract – and I suspect that’s all Alan envisages it ever becoming. Maybe a bit of success here, supporter backing, or a lack of interest elsewhere could change his mind. But for me, there’s every chance he could be a success again while he’s here. His ability on the ball and knack of creating goals out of nothing will hopefully be evident again. And as we struggled to break down teams that sat back against us last season, Connell’s long-range shooting skills could be worth its weight in points.

Good luck back in the black & white Alan.