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10/08 Carlisle 1st Half
By: Tony Butcher
Carlisle Utd 0 Grimsby Town 0
10 Aug 1999, League Cup
Gray, overcast evening with a persistent breeze blowing through the gap twixt Pontoon and Main Stand. The small crowd of about 2,700 sat back and expected something.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation.
The referee and linesmen wore a strident, pastel green affair which contrasted badly with the Carlisle yellow ensemble. Shocking.
Town kicked off towards the 50 Carlisle supporters in the Osmond stand and tried something new. Instead of lobbing the ball over Donovan's head for a throw in, Lester and Ashcroft ran at the heart of the Carlisle defence... and then lofted the ball over Donovan's head for a throw in.
The first 10 minutes were like most of the rest of the game (but without any clear cut chances or efforts) - Town's rampant raiding and Carlisle's isolated breakaways fizzling out 30 yards from goal. Carlisle's defence was "lovely", at least for Town supporters - they didn't close down and let Town players control the ball, turn around and run at them. That was a very big mistake as Town attacked with gay abandon, with Lester the most.......
In the 11th minute, after Town had retained the ball, advancing from right to left and back to the right through the midfield, Donovan took on his full-back and fired in a cross shot. LESTER, from about 10 yards, diverted the ball inside the near post, wrong-footing the 'keeper.
It was already apparent that Carlisle were no match for Town, individually or collectively, and there was no tension or apprehension in the crowd. It was a bit like an exhibition game (yes, even at 1-0).
After Ashcroft had volleyed over the Osmond stand, Town were galvanised into some concerted pressure following one of the game's comedy moments (which has been reported elsewhere as a golden chance to equalise).
Carlisle lifted the ball over the Town defence behind D Smith and Livingstone, the attacker reached the ball close to the bye-line, 10 yards to the left of the goal, and played a slow cross back to the centre of the goal.
Coyne didn't come out for it, leaving it to Livingstone, who left it to Coyne. Eventually an attacker ambled in and Coyne blocked his shot. The ball remained in the area, McDermott cleared the loose ball straight to an unmarked Carlisle player 10 yards out, who then passed the ball back to Livingstone. All this was done in slow motion.
On 30 minutes, after Town had retained possession for what seemed like an eternity, the ball was played out to Donovan who weaved his way across the face of the area. He overhit one of his touches straight to GROVES, who nonchalently swept a right foot drive, curling the ball high over the 'keeper into the righthand side of the goal.
Town players had long since given up showing too much respect for Carlisle's abilities and, once the second goal went in, it was showtime.
Town flocked forward like hordes of wildebeest, simply overrunning Carlisle's defence.
Lester twisted away on the right side of the penalty area, dribbling along the bye-line, and passed back to Black who "slotted" it in. Unfortunately, Lester had dribbled the ball out of play.
Six or seven minutes after the second goal, Town toyed with Carlisle cruelly on the right (7 or 8 one-touch passes between players), Donovan weaved across the edge of the area again and was challenged as he tried to pass. The ball was flicked into the area and LESTER rounded a defender and the goalkeeper for goal number three.
A couple of minutes later McDermott picked up a loose ball 30 yards out and whacked a drive against the top of the bar. The last kick of the half was a chance for Carlisle. Laxity on Town's right allowed a player a shooting opportunity 15 yards out and to the right of the goal. Coyne parried the shot out to the centre of the goal and Livingstone kicked the ball out of play.
I have been kind to Carlisle by not making too much play of their comic inability to stand up.
Three times in the first half their players collided with each other, allowing Town (usually Lester) to advance/attack.
There were also another three occasions when a defender simply fell over for no apparent reason, allowing Town to break away.
Town were playing like we know they can (but usually don't). It was passing and movement, options available to every player.
Even Black was running quickly, Donovan was very dangerous every time he got the ball and Lester was unstoppable.
Half time: Carlisle Utd 0 Grimsby Town 0
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