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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
26/02 Palace 1st Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Crystal Palace 0
26 Feb 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
A very bright, very clear day with a slight breeze only. The pitch, once again, easily cut up down the middle. The atmosphere inside the ground was quite soporific, with virtually no noise from the Town supporters. The 150-1200 Crystal Palace supporters kept up an incessant chant of "Stevie Coppell's Red Army", which was monotonous and boring. Much like the game.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation. D Smith played at left back, with Clare and Nicholls up-front. Nicholls looked, physically, like a typical Buckley player, built very similarly to Ashcroft (but with less chins). The referee wore pastel green and the minute and 7 seconds silence for Stanley Matthews was impeccably observed.
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon and the game petered out almost immediately. There wasn't much cohesion in the Town play and the game was very scrappy. Palace played the typical Coppell game - enthusiastic longish ball.
The first attack of any real note came from Town - after about 8 minutes a neat passing movement through the middle saw Clare release Nicholls with just the 'keeper to beat, but the linesman flagged for offside. A couple of minutes later Groves played an excellent defence splitting pass through the centre for Nicholls, but he hadn't anticipated it and it went through to the 'keeper.
After about 15 minutes Clare scuffed shot, from the right centre of the penalty box, straight at the 'keeper. And Town didn't do anything else for 20 minutes or so. The game became really awful, with many high balls from the Town defence. Surprisingly, Andy Linighan was able to out-jump Daryl Clare. How did he manage that? Palace started to threaten the Town goal, mainly through Morrison turning McDermott on the right. Three such attacks nearly brought goals for Palace. Firstly Morrison crossed from the bye line deep into the heart of the Town 6 yard box. Black wellied the ball clear. On the other two occasions Morrison got to the bye line and crossed to Forssell at the near post, who turned and hit the shots into the side netting. Forssell also had a shot blocked by Livingstone's bottom after he had wriggled free, again at the near post on Town's right. The only other Palace effort of any danger was when Austin drilled a low cross from about 30 yards out, under the Findus, to the edge of the right centre of the Town box. Ratso Rizzo, their badly haired left winger, won a flying challenge with the ball sitting up perfectly for him for a free shot. He scuffed a terrible shot 5 yards wide.
Town woke up a little with 10 or so minutes to go to half time. Donovan wasted a couple of opportunities to cross from the bye-line, after being set free by Clare. As usual he looked up and managed to dent the foreheads of the opposition centre backs. Daryl Clare beat three players in a terrier-like dribble, on the left corner of the Palace box, and hit a shot a couple of yards over the bar. On 41 minutes the referee awarded Town a direct free kick about 3 yards outside the box, 5 or 6 yards to the left of centre. Kingsley Black managed to curl the ball across goal and just wide of the 'keeper's left hand post.
In injury time Town won a free kick. The ball was played in, half cleared, played in again, and half cleared again. Lever lobbed the ball back into the area, to the left of the Palace goal near the 6 yards line. Nicholls got behind the Place full back, who initially touched him. Nicholls stayed on his feet and shielded the ball from the Palace player, with just the 'keeper left, but at a very narrow angle. Nicholls then failed to remain upright as he saw the whites of the 'keeper's eyes. The referee pleased many by pointing to the spot, but then the question arose - who takes it? Striding forward manfully was Diddy David SMITH. Without any fuss he placed the ball, took a few steps back and whacked it into the 'keeper's top left hand corner, right under the bar. It was half time immediately on the restart.
It had been a very poor half, but no "Lever moments". The defence had been ok, but the attack was poor. Clare has reverted to his selfish headless chicken routine of his pre-loan period. Nicholls played like an ambling Ashcroft. The hair was different, but the outcome the same as last week. He played two or three decent flicks, but wasn't as "in" the game as Forssell. He certainly isn't blessed with lightning pace, and I don't recall him trying a shot. Donovan was as ineffective as normal, wasting several openings with poor crosses.
It was unedifying stuff, but winning unedifying stuff
Half time: Grimsby Town 1 Crystal Palace 0
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