Controversy as Emley are denied by leaders Grimsby Borough
Emley suffered a first league defeat in five games when they went down 2-1 to Toolstation NCE Premier Division League leaders Grimsby Borough in a hard fought, close and somewhat controversial game, writes Martin Eastwood
The evening did not start well for Emley, with many of their squad caught up in the by now regular M62 chaos and the kick-off was delayed, meaning the squad who did make it on time were left waiting around, not ideal preparations.
By the time the game did kick off it was a calm, cool night on the Lincolnshire coast and it was the hosts who made all the early running as Emley struggled to get going.
Sam Pashley was lucky that a sliced clearance hit the post rather than the net after only 4 minutes, but Sam Kelly and the Emley defence were kept busy for the first 15-20 minutes.
twoKelly tipped a well placed shot over his bar and 2 minutes later made another save as the Grimsby looked to gain an early advantage.
To Emley’s credit they managed to stem the tide and Grimsby started to get frustrated and resorted to niggly fouls to break up play, something the referee was seemingly happy with, The Pewits were not angels either, but they were more often than not being penalised for their fouls.
It was from a free=kick that Grimsby’s next chance came, the resulting corner was again deflected just past their own post by the Emley defence but they survived.
After weathering the early storm from the wilderness boys, the Pewits showed their teeth finally, good play by Riordan and Pashley to get downfield saw Joe Jagger unleash a crashing 20 yard shot that went out via the woodwork.
Just as Emley looked to have settled into the game they conceded the first goal and it was a sloppy one for them to concede, a back pass was intercepted by Lewis Collins, who was professional enough to tuck it past Sam Kelly.
Grimsby enjoyed a spell of pressure, but the defence, led superbly by man of the match Dom Riordan stood firm despite the pressure.
But then Emley hit the hosts with a sucker punch on the half hour, in a rare sortie, the ball was played into George Doyle, 20 yards out and hit a sweet one which curled into the top corner to restore parity. It also brought up Doyle’s 10th goal of his debut season at senior level after progressing through Emley’s academy.
That would be Emley’s last real attack of the half as they were once again under pressure defensively with the hosts missing numerous chances, some of them, guilt edge that really should have put the game beyond the Pewits.
Credit to Emley and their stubbornness in defence, despite being second best, they dug in and saw the half out.
Emley were probably slightly relieved to still be in the game at half time, the hosts’ chances coming and going seemed to spur on Richard Tracey’s men who started the second period a lot more livelier, Callum Charlton finally got a bit of space to challenge the defence and he won a corner which was cleared.
Charlton and Pashley were making inroads into the Grimsby defence and looking to cause problems, Doyle and Jagger were also giving the home centre-backs a hard time in a good, physical tussle.
Emley had their next decent chance when a run from Pashley down the right caused panic amongst the defenders who had to clear for a corner, which despite Emley pressure in the box was cleared and moved downfield resulting in a swift counter attack, again, another golden opportunity for Grimsby was gone as a free header was planted wide.
The Pewits still looked lively up top with Jagger limping off to be replaced by another academy graduate, Jack Bennett, and Bennett wasted little time in introducing himself to the boys at the back for the wilderness boys, chasing down and harassing them looking to force them into mistakes.
Emley, and Doyle in particularly then had two good chances to take the lead, there seemed no danger as Emley moved the ball through midfield and out wide, a deep cross was put in and Doyle tried a spectacular overhead kick that went wide, but the visiting supporters applauded the effort.
Doyle was at it again a couple of minutes later, this time planting an acrobatic valley wide of the post, and then came the nights' main controversy which led to the winning goal.
With Emley now in the ascendency and looking dangerous, the controversial moment came on 73 minutes, with Emley again on the attack, and the home defence scattered, the lively Bennett chased down a through ball and found himself face to face with the onrushing goalkeeper, Bennett easily shrugged off the challenge of the keeper with a firm shoulder, and was about to put the visitors into the lead, however the referee disagreed and as is customary these days, any kind of contact with the keeper is seemingly illegal.
Possession was handed to the hosts via a free-kick as Emley protested that Bennett was well within his rights to use a legal shoulder challenge, but to no avail, Grimsby went down the other end and Trott poked the ball past Kelly for a 2-1 lead with the Pewits still furious over the decision to gift possession back to the hosts and take the game away from them after they had looked the more likely side.
Several other decisions seemingly went against Emley, but this one changed the game and totally deflated Emley, who to their credit kept on going looking for an equaliser, but it would not come for them despite their efforts.
Grimsby had the last chance of the game as another innocuous looking challenge was penalised and gifted them a free-kick which Kelly managed to save, despite plenty of stoppages and time wasting throughout the game, the referee chose to blow up after only a couple of minutes added time.
Despite the defeat, Emley can hold their heads high, pushing the leaders all the way, who, in all fairness were probably just about deserved winners, but the winning goal left a sour taste for the Emley fans in attendance.
Emley are away again on Saturday when they make the trip to Silsden.