Bruce discusses his team Grimsby Town
Hi Bruce – so how would you summarise your season so far?
Despite relegation, but with new owners replacing the old regime and improving the match day experience and general feel around the place – we started like a house on fire. When we beat Yeovil on 23rd October, we were four points clear at the top. Inexplicably, we then won only one in twelve and dropped to tenth. In another complete contrast, since around that time we have now only lost two in fifteen. As a fan it’s pretty baffling but we are now bang In form at the right time of the season. B- overall.
How’s your recent form been?
As I mentioned, recent form is excellent. In the last fifteen games, our record is P15 W10 D3 L2 F23 A10. We do not score a hatful of goals but don’t concede many which is always a good starting point.
What’s been the highlights of your season?
Our home record is decent, an early win over Wrexham and recent victory (albeit against ten men) against Stockport the highlights. Away from home, you would probably say wins at Notts County (last minute after coming from behind) and another win from behind at Chesterfield recently (4-1) was a great day out.
Do you fancy your chances of making the play-offs?
I said at the start of the season we should make the playoffs with our budget (I’d imagine maybe around 5th best). At the moment it looks like that will happen.
Who’s your gaffer and how does he like to set the team up?
Paul Hurst (who took us out of this league in 2015/16) is back for a second spell. At times, a section of the fan base have accused him of worrying about the opposition too much and being slow to react with substitutions that change games when we are struggling. He also cupped his ear at Wembley on the day we were promoted to fans who had criticised him and some have not forgotten that. He’s a safe pair of hands at this level though and we will be tough to break down but will also offer something going forward. We usually play 4-3-2-1 (almost a 4-3-3 but the wide men have some defensive responsibility).
What’s the main strengths of the team?
Central defensive pairing of Luke Waterfall (who nearly left the club in the summer) and Andy Smith (on loan from Hull) have been superb in recent weeks. Energy of Harry Clifton in midfield and experience of Gavan Holohan (a recent quality looking signing). If he’s fit, John McAtee and Ryan Taylor have a good understanding up front.
Where’s best for the Yellow Army to seek pre-match food and drinks?
Since the closure of the Imperial pub next to the ground 6-7 years ago, there’s been a lack of places to drink near the ground. However, this season has seen the emergence of the Fanzone. This is partnered with Docks Beers (an up and coming local brewery) and there are some brilliant pop up food vendors, which mean fans, are never now short of decent food and drink.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
The best two teams I’ve seen are Solihull Moors who beat us home and away and knock the ball around for fun, and Stockport, who looked like they are going to blow us away the other week until a sending off midway through the first half changed the game in our favour.
Before his injury, Tshimanga was tearing up the division. He had one half chance against us in a tight game. In the blink of an eye the ball was in the back of the net and Chesterfield went home with the three points.
What sort of crowd are you expecting and how have the fans adapted to life in the NL?
Our fans have really bought into the change of ownership, and what they are trying to bring to the club. We were selling out the home stands earlier in the season and our last home gate (with 1400 away fans) was 7800. I’d expect around 5800-6000 on Saturday which is still excellent for us.
And finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
I’ll be interested to see how your players react after the draw with Eastleigh and if they still believe they can make the playoffs. I think we’ll win but it will be close 1-0 or 2-1.
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