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07/08 Stockport 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 0 Stockport County 1
07 Aug 1999, Nationwide League Division 1
Neither side made any changes in either personnel, formation or tactics at the start of the second half.
For the first 5 minutes Town were on top, Stockport did not get past the half way line. Then it happened.
Some scrappy play just inside the Town half, near the opposition dug out, saw Stockport retain possession, lose, get it back and finally play a chipped through ball over the back line towards bye-line near the edge of the penalty box. A midfielder had made a 25 yard run and was not picked up by anyone. He controlled the ball, turned and was faced by a Town defender (either R Smith or Butterfield I think). His cross deflected off the bottom of the defenders boot, on to the turf and skidded over several players right in to the path of another midfielder making a late run into the box, about 10 yards out, just to the right of the penalty spot. He headed it in, unmarked.
This did not galvanise the Town players at all, they played poorly for another 10 minutes, hardly stringing more than a couple of passes together.
During this period Stockport should have scored a second. From a long throw on the Town right the ball was flicked on at the near post across the face of the goal. A Stockport player was unmarked, less than 10 yards out with an open goal. He headed it a yard over.
Throughout the remainder of the game Stockport threatened on the break and only fine tackles by R Smith, Butterfield, and Livingstone saved Town from further goals.
|"...they were 'rewarded' after 62 minutes ..."||Â|
The crowd started chanting for Jack Lester and they were "rewarded" after 62 minutes when he replaced Allen. The crowd reaction was a prolonged boooooooooooooo, as they felt that Allen was not the man to "go". Lester made an impact as after a half challenge from him the ball broke to Black, who played the ball out to Ashcroft, who was just to the left edge of the area. Ashcroft hit the ball towards goal and it was blocked by the midriff and hand of a defender.
A little earlier a snap shot out of a melee of players was blocked by the up and outstretched hand of a Stockport full back.
Some determined play involving Groves and Coldicott on the Town right saw Coldicott free in the area, his short cross was met by Lester with a diving header. The ball hit the top of the bar and went high over for a goal kick.
With about 15 to 20 minutes left Pouton and McDermott replaced Butterfield and the ineffective Black. McDermott was a straight replacement. Pouton played in the central position of a sort of diamond formation. Coldicott out left, Donovan tucked in right and Groves behind the centre forwards, though he was so far forward this was in effect a 4-3-3.
Pouton looked a fine footballer, tall, strong and a good passer. He stroked the ball around first time keeping up the momentum of any move. He looked to have some vision as he made several simple passes that opened up the flanks.
|"...finally Town had some width from which to build moves..."||Â|
McDermott attacked more than Butterfield did and finally Town had some width from which to build moves.
Lester turned his marked and went through on goal and fell under pressure. The linesman flagged for a Town free kick, just outside the area. So the referee gave a free kick to Stockport for shirt pulling. It's that reputation again.
A Pouton lob over the back line of Stockport saw the 'keeper rush off his line to head clear. It went as far as Donovan who, from 40 yards lobbed it back. A centre back headed away from goal, from about 5 yards out. The ball fell to Ashcroft about 15 yards out to the left of the goal. He drove the ball about 3 yards over.
Some pressure down the Town left saw a shot blocked from a central position, the ball fell to the unmarked Lester who shot a couple of yards over when the goalkeeper was out of position.
With about 5 minutes left some short passing on the edge of the Stockport area saw Donovan chest the ball down and drive 6 yards wide, very weakly. A cross from the Town left saw Groves head towards the goal from 7 yards out, with little power. Ashcroft failed to advance to intercept the ball and it lolloped into the goalkeepers arms.
And finally, deep into injury time with Town finally pressing with some effort and commitment, the ball broke to Ashcroft and Groves centrally, about 12 yards out with just the goalkeeper to beat. Groves hit it towards the bottom right corner. The goalkeeper leapt to his right and made a superb one handed stop. Although we would say it was a miss.
Again statistically it appears Town had loads of pressure and may have been a little unfortunate. In reality Town looked like a bunch of individuals rather than a team. They never really looked like scoring, nor deserved to.
|"...the wingers were very poor..."||Â|
There was very little creativity and the wingers were very poor.
Donovan looked even less interested than he did last season. D Smith played fine when he attacked, but was not able to perform to Gallimore's usual standard in defence. Butterfield was very inconsistent, and only put two crosses in all day (and one of those into seat H63 of the Pontoon). He is not ready to take over from McDermott yet. Coyne was hardly tested, though he did not advance too far off his line. He did eschew the Davison thwack up field for a more intelligent distribution of the ball from both his feet and hands. He was always looking to find a Town player to PASS the ball to and thereby allow moves to be built.
As soon as Allen left the field Ashcroft's level of determination visibly lowered and he looked to be shirking some challenges. He did not appear to be as "up for it" as he has in recent "important" games (like York and Lincoln).
Groves looked a little behind the game today, and the midfield mastery was left to Coldicott. We should buy Pouton now. He looks like a player for our future. Groves may be near to being part of our past. I hope this impression of Groves is wrong and that he rapidly reaches his usual standard.
It was a dispiriting start to the season, not so much for the result but the collective and (some) individual performances. As far as last season goes "plus ca change".
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