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27/03 Barnsley 1st Half
By: Tony Butcher
Barnsley 3 Grimsby Town 0
27 Mar 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
A miserable spring night full of cold, cold wind, driving rain showers and (before the kick off) hailstones. The Town fans - 200 at the very most, were placed in the old West Stand right next to the press box and the TV cameras. Yep, football in the raw - it isn't often that you have to take an umbrella to the toilet. Oh, and watch out for pigeon droppings too - they liked to perch in the rafters of the stand and comment freely.
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation, to much grumbling and apprehension. Everyone was where you'd expect them to be on the pitch.
The game started dreadfully. Within two minutes Gallimore had dallied so long that his attempted aimless hoof up the touchline was charged down, starting a Barnsley attack. The resultant cross was horribly sliced away by Groves for a corner. Town's performance never again reached such heights of competence.
The game in its entirety can be summed up thus :- Barnsley get ball, Barnsley kick ball up towards penalty area, Town kick ball back to Barnsley, Barnsley eventually get into penalty box, Town flap around. It is much easier for me to describe Town's first half efforts:- Clare buzzed around on the Town right, cut in and his shot caught the heel of a defender. The tubby 'keeper plopped on top of the ball at his near post; Town nicked the ball on the Barnsley left, worked it across the face of the area to the spare man (Groves, what an apt description of his performance) and he eventually after much creaking of limbs gently caressed a left footed shot into the 'keeper's midriff; and Gallimore had a shot low, to the 'keeper's left from 25 yards, again after Town worked the ball across the Barnsley defence.
Now if Barnsley were any good they would have scored 3 or 4 in the first half. Town were awful, especially on the left where Gallimore did not manage to pass to a Town player until the 44th minute (whereupon he received an ovation from some of the Town supporters. We admire perseverance). Before Barnsley eventually did score, they should have had a couple. Loose play down the Town left allowed Hignett to race away and cross deeply (I think this was one of those times when a Gallimore/Livvo hoof was charged down - it is so difficult to remember - there were so many times). The cross was back headed away by Lever towards the corner flag. Appleby ambled over, turned and crossed. The ball was headed out to Tinkler, about 25 yards out, who volleyed straight into Coyne's hands.
The Town players stood around watching as Barnsley took a short corner on the Town left. The ball was rolled to the corner of the area (where a player had been stood for 5 seconds - nobody moved out to mark him, or close him down). He advanced, played a short pass and that left a player near the edge of the six yard box, all alone. Coyne came racing out and blocked, the ball rolled across to somewhere near the penalty spot whereupon Gallimore threw himself across and blocked the shot with his legs. A few minutes later a Barnsley free kick, just inside the Town half, next to the right touchline, was hoofed towards the back post. It was nodded on. Shipperley (I think) turned Livvo easily and pulled the ball back to the centre of the goalmouth, about 12 yards out. Coyne came out and blocked the shot with his feet.
On 25 minutes a rather aimless "channel ball" was whacked down the Town left. Livvo strolled over and attempted to clear. For the umpteenth time the ball was charged down (this time by Dyer) who galloped on towards the bye-line. He advanced into the area, reached the bye-line and chipped across towards Shipperley (who missed it, it was too high). However the ball fell to Tinkler, unmarked about 15 yards out. Coyne raced out and threw himself at the ball. TINKLER simply slammed the shot across Coyne high-ish towards the top left hand corner of the goal.
A few minutes later Barnsley took another short corner when Town were sleeping. They worked the ball into the Town 6 yard box and across the face of goal. Only Coldicott's bottom stopped a second goal, as he threw himself across the path of the shot. The ball dropped on the 6 yards box, Groves cleared hurriedly and badly, straight back to the winger. The ball was dinked high towards the centre. Coyne was impeded by someone (the way Town were playing it was probably one of our players) and the ball eventually fell to a Barnsley player, whose shot was saved low by Coyne, to his left. I may have got these two the wrong way round - Town were so inept I was beginning to lose concentration. The players were, so why can't I?
There were several other moments of danger, which didn't result in shots. Generally Town were indescribably poor, the whole left side was an embarrassment. I can't remember Black touching the ball in the first half, and Gallimore kept either passing to them or getting caught in possession. It was the worst performance I can recall from a Town left back - I think the only reason he stayed on the pitch was because there just wasn't anyone else. Groves was plainly lacking in pace and spatial awareness. He looked like a centre half playing in midfield. He was just too slow to react, consequently the game, literally, passed him by. Livvo was very lackadaisical, committing two or three Galli dallies. In attack Town were non-existent. Clare, as usual, ran around a lot, to no effect. When Town did have the ball in the Barnsley half the lack of movement was painful to observe. The player with the ball never had anyone moving for him to pass to. Hence there were innumerable occasions when Town went backwards or were caught in possession. Donovan was even less of a presence than Black (who at least was moving his legs) and Nicholls won a couple of free kicks by falling over. You'd have thought that Nicholls would have used the stage of a live tv game to show off his talents, or at least overtly try. He didn't.
One-Nil at half time was a travesty. Barnsley should have scored more, even though they are an inherently average team, nowhere near the same class a Charlton. Several of their players were incapable of controlling the ball. They were just big. Like Wolves without the finesse! (Much like the respective Towns themselves. "Come to Barnsley - it's Wolverhampton without the chic").
Half time: Barnsley 1 Grimsby Town 0
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