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07/08 Stockport 1st Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 24/06/2000

Grimsby Town 0 Stockport County 1
07 Aug 1999, Nationwide League Division 1

Drizzly, grey, gloomy. A moderate crowd and stolid opponents. No drum, so at least something positive came out of today. The netting is now all white, rather than black and white stripes.

New season and a new formation (only kidding). 4-4-2 as per usual. Butterfield at right back and D Smith at left back, everyone else where you'd expect them to be.

Town, attacking the Osmond End, started positively, averaging a shot every 4 minutes for the first twenty minutes. Stockport then suddenly found one of Town's many achilles heels (an inability to defend long throws) and could have scored three goals between the 20th and 25th minute. The final twenty minutes of the half were relatively even, if a little devoid of creativity, threat and general action.

The first attack of the game, in the fourth minute, saw Allen turn and hook a half volley to the 'keeper from the left edge of the area following a build up on the Town right involving Coldicott and Ashcroft.

Grimsby Town
D Smith
R Smith



The next effort on goal, after about 7 minutes, was a long range drive from Coldicott, again straight to the 'keeper. After another 5 minutes Groves drove another long shot over the top of the Osmond Stand, and a couple of minutes later Ashcroft fired in a drive from the right edge of the area which the 'keeper saved at full stretch.

"...i was not kick and rush, but it wasn't beautiful..."  

In between these false dawns Stockport had caused Town some difficulty with a breakaway which resulted in a header straight at Coyne. Stockport had two huge centre forwards, two huge centre backs and every other player looked strong and athletic. They played to their strengths and looked to get crosses in, or force opportunities to get the ball into the box (ie throw ins, corners and free kicks). They looked very well organised, especially in attacking at speed on the break. It was not kick and rush, but it wasn't beautiful. However it was effective.

The flow of the game turned in the 20th minute just after a daft decision by the linesman and referee. They gave Stockport a free kick for offside after Ashcroft had half charged down the goalkeepers attempted clearance of a back pass. It had not resulted in a Town chance, but broke up the flow of the game and irritated the Town players and crowd. From the free kick Stockport won a throw in near the Town left corner flag. The long throw was flicked on and swept on to the left hand post, and then out for a corner. The corner was cleared, just, but a couple of minutes later Stockport won another throw in about 10 yards from the left corner flag. Again it was flicked on and Angell scored at the far post. Fortunately he was a couple of yards off side.

Stockport also had a breakaway down the Town left which resulted in R Smith clearing with a spectacular diving header near the penalty spot.

The Town full backs had great difficulty with their wingers, who often (particularly against D Smith) got behind them. Butterfield was quite hesitant and rarely got forward. R Smith and Livingstone performed well against physically difficult opponents and I cannot remember the centre forwards getting shots in on goal (apart from the disallowed goal, of course).

The game became a "midfield battle" for the last 15 minutes of the first half with Town having the slight edge in possession. Coldicott actually ran the game for most of the first half, with Groves playing a minor role in the proceedings.

Towards the end of the half Town had their best chance after Black and Ashcroft had half charged down clearances, Ashcroft turned near the goal-line in the area. He passed to Black, at an angle about 10 yards out near the edge of the 6 yard box, who drove across the face of the goal.

A little earlier Allen had twisted free on the Town left and shot across the goal. Ashcroft admonished Allen for not passing to him as he felt he was in a better position.

"...the one sustained period of Town pressure (ie 1 minute)..."  

The one sustained period of Town pressure (ie 1 minute) was after about 40 minutes. Interplay on the Town right involving Coldicott, Ashcroft, Allen and Butterfield resulted in Butterfield swinging over a cross which was headed back by R Smith about 2 yards beyond the far post. No Town player was near the loose ball.

In all Coyne had to make one routine save in the first half and the Stockport goalkeeper had made at least 4. I counted 8 Town shots and a couple from Stockport. Statistically this doesn't look to bad at all, however the few occasions Stockport had attacked they came very close to scoring, whereas Town had shot, mainly, from outside the area.

Stockport had attacked with purpose, at speed, and with a definite plan to which all players adhered.

Town played "on the hoof". The two wingers had been largely anonymous, particularly Donovan, who I cannot recall making any positive contribution in the first half. Ashcroft and Allen again looked a promising partnership, though Ashcroft wasn't putting himself around as much as he had in pre-season games. Allen impressed with some tenacity, a very good first touch and some awareness of the positioning of his team mates. He looked to be a player who "hangs on the shoulder of the centre-back", though it was Ashcroft who was caught offside at least 3 times.

The half time consensus was that we were fortunate to be level, and that Town were having both offensive and defensive problems down the wings. The central spine looked fine. We were having problems with our peripherals.

Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Stockport County 0

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