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10/08 Carlisle 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Carlisle Utd 0 Grimsby Town 0
10 Aug 1999, League Cup
Half time talk was of who Buckley would take off to rest. The answer was staggering.
Pouton for Groves. The crowd made one of those rumbling noises that shows incredulity. We just didn't know what to make of that.
There were no particular tactical changes, it was a straight swap, and there was no change in the pattern of the game either - simply more Town attacking.
The first 15 minutes didn't produce "high" excitement, except a couple of Ashcroft drives from 20 yards which the 'keeper saved a) well; and b) easily. Both shots were after interplay between Lester and Ashcroft, breaking from the halfway line.
Near the hour, Town scored the most sublime goal. Town broke away from defence quickly, with the ball reaching Ashcroft 35 yeards out. He had Black free to his left and Donovan free to his right. Instead of passing and keeping up the momentum, he dillied and dallied and turned round twice.
The crowd moaned, and Ashcroft lifted the ball over defence to the on-running COLDICOTT, who brought it down on his chest and drilled the ball under and across the 'keeper from a narrow angle to the left of the goal.
Ashcroft's pass was almost a replica of Burnett's pass to Lester against QPR (and a bit like Zola's to Poyet against Sunderland). The crowd went bananas at the skillful pass and because Coldicott had scored - a very popular goal with crowd and players genuinely pleased for the scorer.
About 5 minutes later Town attacked at pace down the right and a cross was whipped in, which was half stopped by the 'keeper. Lester and a defender went in for the loose, bouncing ball and Lester just touched it onto the bar. The goalie turned round and punched it away from him at full stretch.
Five minutes after that, the crowd favourite had increased his popularity still further and peed off Ashcroft.
Town broke away for the umpteenth time and the ball ended up with Lester, to the right of the goal with just one man to beat. He dawdled, feinted to his right and left and looked up. He saw Ashcroft unmarked on the penalty spot and tried to pass to him. The defender blocked the pass and fell over, the ball bounced up perfectly for LESTER to welly in a volley, just inside the righthand post.
Oh the look on Ashcroft's face; it was not the same as on Lester's.
Lester was substituted a couple of minutes later to a deserved ovation, and was replaced by Allen for the last 20 minutes.
Allen played some neat passes and "link" balls, and was generally busy and tidy.
Town's move of the night occurred just after Lester was taken off. Ashcroft produced a back-heeled, volleyed flick to Allen who turned and spread the ball back to Pouton, who swept the ball on to Donovan.
He sprinted past his marker and hit a cross shot a couple of inches wide.
With 10 minutes left Clare replaced Ashcroft, who had been involved in an "altercation" and limped off. A loose ball had bounced chest high near the dug-outs and Ashcroft had gone in studs first. One Carlisle player lashed out with his arm, catching Ashcroft in the mouth, and another Carlisle player charged up to Ashcroft in a threatening manner.
All three were booked and there was a feeling that Ashcroft was substituted before he was stretchered off or sent off.
A couple of minutes after Clare came on, Carlisle gifted Town the psychologically important sixth goal. Carlisle's defenders attempted to pass the ball around at the back, Town's forwards simply ran at them, forcing a back pass which the 'keeper passed to DONOVAN about 25 yards out.
He ran straight for goal and awaited the 'keeper, lifting the ball with his left ankle over the 'keeper. The ball hit the angle of post and bar and trickled slowly along, slightly behind the goal line. Donovan sank to his knees and gave an "at last" type of prayer gesture.
Carlisle promptly went up the other end and nearly scored. Loose marking on Town's left saw an attacker free, just inside the area at an angle. His cross shot hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
In the last couple of minutes Town could (and should) have scored two more. A superb Town move from left to right involving Donovan, Allen and Pouton saw Black sprinting across and away from the goal on Town's right. His drag back went to Allen on the 6 yard box. The goalkeeper rushed out and blocked his shot.
A minute later a cross from the Town right was volleyed over the bar by Clare, centrally placed on the 6 yard box. R Smith walked off the pitch and Town played with 10 men for the last couple of minutes.
Carlisle may have been poor opposition but, for once, Town made the difference in status and skill obvious through the scoreline. The scoreboard was as mystified as the supporters and took ages to register each goal - it kept freezing, just like the Carlisle defence.
Town's defence was quite loose on occasions, allowing Carlisle clear shooting opportunities in the area, but should we quibble? The gaps were caused by the gung-ho party atmosphere - last night was all about scoring, not stopping the opposition.
I told you that Jack Lester can't shoot!
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