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30/08 Swindon 1st Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Swindon Town 0
30 Aug 1999, Nationwide League Division 1
A party atmosphere at Blundell Park to celebrate 100 years at the stadium? No - a 12 year old miming to a "song", 5 teenagers dancing, a big ball of balloons (currently crossing Holland in a V formation), and some balloons on a frame tied up to look like a big 100. Really classy.
A warmish, clear day with a slight breeze. Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows :- Coyne, McDermott, D Smith, Livingstone, R Smith, Donovan, Coldicott, Groves, Black, Lester, Ashcroft. The substitutes were :- Croudson, Pouton, Allen, Gallimore and Butterfield.
The officials wore the same luminous outfit as worn against Carlisle. The referee was Mr T Heilbron, most memorable from last year's home game against Port Vale. Maybe it was not wise for the club to issue the supporters with clunking great commemorative coins with this referee on the loose.
Swindon kicked off towards the Pontoon and the first 15 minutes were poor.
Swindon had one attack of any note, which ended with Coyne plucking the ball off the head of Onoura after a deep cross from the town left was headed back across goal.
Town had no attempts of any consequence. Town started at half speed and there was very little movement. Huge gaps were appearing in between the midfield and defence, particularly on the right, which continued to be a problem right through the half.
On 15 minutes Town exerted a 2 minute period of pressure.
Ashcroft received the ball on the edge of the area, and turned to his left. He "fell" under the challenge, and the referee gave a free-kick, right on the edge of the area, to the left of centre.
Black curled the free-kick a couple of inches over the bar. D Smith gained possession from the goal kick and ran across the defence, trying a shot that was blocked. The loose ball fell to Donovan who tried a cross shot, which again was blocked.
Another 5 minutes of dreary football was enlivened by a terrible piece of defending by Town.
A corner fell between 5 Town players about 8 yards out on the right, none of them cleared the ball. A Swindon player swivelled and poked a shot a foot wide of Coyne's left post.
After half an hour, neat interplay on the Town left resulted in D Smith playing a low ball into Ashcroft, who hit a first time pass inside the full back, releasing Lester inside the area. The full back extended his leg to tackle Lester, and Lester duly obliged by falling over that leg. GROVES smashed the penalty high down the centre left of the goal.
The only other events of note in the first half were :-
a) R Smith was caught from behind and had to go off the field for a couple of minutes. The ball went through to their 'keeper from the restart and Lester decided to continue running at the 'keepers head, despite him holding the ball. Yellow card for Lester (It wouldn't be a Town game without one of those);
b) Swindon headed the ball over from a corner;
c) Mark Walters sliced a shot 20 yards wide from the edge of the area;
d) The referee ignored a blatant hand ball on the edge of the Swindon area after a corner was half cleared, Swindon broke away, and a Swindon player hacked Black down (no booking). Thr crowd got agitated over that period of play; and
e) Donovan won a tackle 10 yards outside the Swindon area, the ball broke loose to Lester who hit a first time swirling left footer, which was tipped over the bar in acrobatic fashion.
The first half was mundane, scrappy and generally poor entertainment.
Swindon managed to get into the Town penalty area 3 times and were most content to win corners and throw-ins. They buzzed around in midfield but did not appear too threatening. Town, on the other hand, were rather dis-organised.
There were too many gaps between the midfield and defence, and the midfield and attack. There was very little cohesion, and virtually no movement off the ball.
Individually D Smith was probably the pick of the players as he seemed the be the only player to lift the pace of the game. His runs from full-back were the most dangerous aspect of Town's (limited) attacking.
Defensively the right side was exposed a few times, principally through Donovan and Coldicott failing to "track back" or generally be aware of what was happening around them.
The Pontoon was in agreement that Town were fortunate to be ahead at half-time.
The half time entertainment was a "special" 5 a side game between Youth Team players in the yellow and blue away kit, against other Youth Team players in a 1930's type kit (the goalie even wore roll neck woolly and flat cap).
At least there weren't anymore 12 year old's miming. Oh I forgot - the drummer re-appeared to a "mixed reception". One sustained period of slapping, early in the first half, was the extent of today's gig.
Half time: Grimsby Town 1 Swindon Town 0
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