Ian Holloway expresses concern for lower league football due to restrictions
Ian Holloway was ecstatic after Grimsby returned to action from a period of self-isolation with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Bolton but expressed concern for the game at the lower levels due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The Mariners had not played since September 19, missing three matches following a positive test for Jock Curran.
Despite minimum preparation, Grimsby collected a first point of the campaign and looked the most likely to snatch a winner in the latter stages.
“It is one of the most fantastic points my team has got for me,” said Holloway. “They did it from sheer will and I can’t ask for anything more.
“As a performance, that’s as good as I have ever had, but I am worried about football.
“I worry for this wonderful competition we are in and for all our wonderful supporters who are not allowed in to a beautiful ground like this.
“Why can’t we get supporters in a beautiful ground like this? Home supporters only, and I have no problem with that, because the atmosphere is awful?
“It is embarrassing,” added Holloway as Grimsby face away trips to Cheltenham on Tuesday and Leyton Orient next Saturday before returning to Blundell Park.
“It is going to be a miracle for us to keep going; but it is for everybody else.
“Should the season really truly be going because where is the money coming from? Why is that not sorted out? I am sick and fed up of it.
“In the end we could have nicked it. At half-time I thought our legs were coming off and I had to change the shape because they were stretching us wide.
“But I have never been prouder of any team of mine as I am now.”
Bolton manager Ian Evatt said: “I think if we had got one goal they would have crumbled and we would have won the game comfortably.
“They were there for the taking. From tee to green we were good at times. We created enough final-third entries to warrant hurting the opposition.
“But our final ball was awful. We hit the first man far too many times or we chose the wrong option.
“Our decision-making was off in the final third. A positive was the clean sheet, but I do feel it was two points dropped.
“We are a work in progress and nowhere near where we want to be and where I think we will end up.
“We are heading in the right direction but we are consistently inconsistent. I see flashes of brilliance but not enough.
“We are not strong enough mentally. I didn’t see that desire to win at all costs.
“I use an analogy about Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. You almost knew they were going to score in the 85th, 86th, 87th minute. I didn’t see that from us.
“I don’t know if that is because we don’t have the fans sucking the ball into the net. And I don’t see why we can’t have fans in socially distanced.”
Grimsby have not beaten Bolton since 1982 – a run which has now been extended to 18 matches.
But they put aside recent difficulties to prove more than a match for opponents still to hit their straps under Evatt.
Bolton dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes and went closest with a couple of Ali Crawford free-kicks.
But they failed to work goalkeeper James McKeown, who was also redundant in the second period as well.
Grimsby offered more of a threat going forward after the break, especially after the introductions of substitutes Montel Gibson and Owura Edwards.
But neither side managed a shot on target to trouble respective goalkeepers Billy Crellin and McKeown.