Blog 3 of our Wembley preview series:

(This one is designed to reassure you as the nerves increase and the big day approaches, some facts to chew over about the Mariners and GOAL SCORING statistics in the 14-15 season.)

The following may worry the superstitious, but I make no apologies for that – these are promising observations, in our favour.

Our beloved Mariners have not lost a Conference game this season when Lenell John-Lewis has scored. Or when Ollie Palmer has scored.   They have not been beaten if either winger, Nathan Arnold, or Jack Mackreth have scored. (In fact, if Scott Brown, Carl Magnay, Josh Gowling, Craig Clay, Christian Jolley or Jordan Chapell have scored, we’ve avoided defeat too. But they’ve scored about 7 goals between them so…… anyway.)   You may say that OBVIOUSLY if you score goals, you win games, but I’m just trying to reassure you that if one of our 4 front men scores, we tend to WIN.  Actually only once when John-Lewis has scored have we drawn the game. Ditto Palmer. When one of those 4 main players score, we pretty much always WIN.  Again, we’ve never lost when James McKeown scores you could say, but he doesn’t score, he’s a goalie, you’re just being silly. Humour me, let me concentrate on the attackers for one paragraph.

Ok. Onto the defence. Briefly. This is a team with 20 league clean sheets this campaign. Nearly half of our games we didn’t concede in, and in only 8 games we failed to score. And 2 of those were the first two games, pre-Ollie, with an injured Arnold, and Alan Connell on loan trying to roll back the years for us. Remember how desperate for a striker we were earlier in the season? And since then, we’ve scored goals. Not only the above 4 players, but invaluable contributions from Craig Disley, and Jon Paul Pittman too.

Again, nervous cynics amongst you could point out that we’ve not scored in two games against Bristol Rovers, Sunday’s opponents.  One game in August, one on Valentine’s Day.  Well, we scored 3 goals in total against our local ‘rivals’ Lincoln this season and got no points.  At least we took a point from Sunday’s opposition without scoring. Remember that 15th placed Lincoln are the only team this season to beat us twice.  Not title winners Barnet, not 2nd placed Bristol Rovers.  Let’s not even contemplate letting Rovers alter that statistic.  In the first game against Bristol Rovers, 5 different players to the likely Sunday line-up played; half the team was different, the subs bench was filled with youth players who barely featured since. Only Magnay of the current back 4 played.

Now we have a different, more settled side, a better quality Town side, which has only lost once since that February defeat.   In the second game against Rovers, it was undoubtedly an off-day for the Mariners.  Five Town bookings and easily beaten by the better side on the day. GTFC experimented with Christian Jolley up-top with The Shop in Palmer’s absence – and it didn’t work.  They’ve not repeated the experiment since.  Fellow Trust blogger Paul wrote in his match report; ‘unless we start winning our home games and becoming more effective in the final third, neither will we (go up)’. Did we?  Yes, we won 5 of next 7 home games. We won 6 of our 8 final away games too.  We can go up. It comes down to this one match, as you know.

It is an away game obviously on Sunday. We scored 12 more away goals this season than Bristol Rovers.  The only time we’ve NOT scored away from home this season league or cup, is away at Bristol Rovers (again, we had our worst injury/suspension crisis of the season). Similarly, we’ve won as many Conference games as Bristol Rovers did. We’ve scored more Conference goals than Bristol Rovers did.

I don’t profess to having studied the opposition team in any detail at all, that’s for another blogger maybe, but our side has quality throughout, and continuity and a cracking team spirit. Although Paul Hurst has cleverly tried to portray the Mariners as underdogs, that’s a tactic, perhaps to reduce tension and pressure. In reality, its a close call, and we have nothing to be scared of.

Let’s go to Wembley, enjoy it, and score, and keep a clean sheet, and most of all, let’s win!

UTM!

(all statistics thanks to The Mariner, GTFC’s award winning matchday magazine)