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05/09 Vale 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Port Vale 3 Grimsby Town 1
05 Sep 1999, Nationwide League Division 1
This was so much better, with Pouton generally at the hub of most good things. He seems to be the embodiment of Buckley's footballing philosophy - "passing and movement" - as he kept the ball moving all the time. Town actually played with a rhythm in the second half. They weren't perfect, but still did enough to justify claims to a draw.
With Allen buzzing around up front Town had a distinct air of menace, and actually looked like (a) shooting and (b) scoring. After about 5 minutes of the second half Town had their first effort on goal. Hurrah, action. In all Town's efforts in the second half were, in no particular order :-
a) Donovan got to the bye-line and crossed to Ashcroft, 6 yards out, who headed down to the goalkeepers feet;
b) Ashcroft turned, just inside the box, and tried a shot which hit a Port Vale defender and trickled to the right of the 'keeper, who picked up easily;
c) Pouton "dinked" a short , spinning pass just out of reach of the central defender, just to the right of the Vale box, releasing Ashrcoft who shot across the 'keeper and a foot wide
d) Ashcroft was released, again inside the box, to the right of goal, and from a narrow angle mis-hit a sliding shot slowly to the 'keeper;
e) Pouton jinked to the bye-line, to the right of the goal and hit a firm, low cross to the edge of the six yard box, where two Vale defenders scrambled clear;
f) Pouton sliced a shot from 20 yards about 25 yards wide of the right hand post (confirming York City supporter's claims about his shooting);
g) Just after the Vale 3rd went in Allen was set free in the area, to the right of the goal and his half volley was saved by the on-rushing Musselwhite; and
h) On 50 minutes Allen jinked past two defenders, going across the goal, about 20 yards out. The third defender tackled and cleared the ball by chipping the 'keeper, who turned round and tipped the ball over the bar.
Town seemed to have 6 or 7 corners in the second half, most of which ended up in the goalkeeper's hands, with no challenge.
Town broke quickly and directly, often finding Donovan early, and produced many "Moments of danger", if not chances. Donovan was getting the better of his full back and received superb support from Coldicott, who played very well in the second half.
From one such moment, after an hour, Town scored. Livingstone switched play with a trade mark clipped pass to the right touch-line. A one-two was played and Coldicott was released to the bye-line. His cross was met by the unmarked Allen, on the 6 yard box, to the left centre of the goal. ALLEN placed a glancing header into the right side of the goal. Fine attacking brought a fine goal.
This brought forth "Escape to Victory" quotes from certain sections of the crowd. "Come on lads, we can still do it !" And indeed they could as the flow of the game was definitely towards Musselwhite, with the occasional breakaway from Port Vale. At 2-1 a Town equaliser seemed more likely than a Vale winner.
Port Vale had rarely threatened, but had gone close as their chances were :-
a) A free kick was tapped sideays and a long range drive was attempted. The ball was half stopped by a Town player's backside, but it fell into the path of Naylor about 15 yards out to the the left of Coyne's goal. Naylor's cross-shot hit the post and was hoofed away;
b) Just after Town's goal Vale broke quickly down the Town left, whipped in a cross from the bye-line, and a header similar to Allen's was held comfortably at a 3/4 stretch by Coyne; and
c) Another quick break down the Town left saw a cross really whacked in at pace, at head height. The ball skimmed off an attacker's forehead and out for a throw in.
I cannot recall any other shots/chances for Port Vale, apart from the goal.
This was another break down the Town left which had resulted from indecision by Town when attacking. Town had attacked on the right but had slowed to a standstill, no-one moved and the "set up" fell apart with Donovan, Ashcroft and Coldicott all looking at each other. Vale moved the ball out quickly to their right, near the half way line, where they had two players unmarked. They advanced unimpeded to the edge of the Town area where R Smith failed to stop Bent who ran across the area, seeming to drag three Town defenders towards him, though none challenged. The ball was slipped to FOYLE who was unmarked, and he clipped the ball under Coyne for a third they, ultimately, did not deserve.
The Town support assumed Foyle was offside as he was so alone in the area. From our perfect position, 120 yards away and at 90 degrees, he was way offside.
A couple of minutes prior to Vale's third goal Donovan was involved in an altercation with the midget midfield maestro, Minton. Donovan had been harried and fouled when going for a loose ball, and Minton shoved, snarled and appeared to swing his arms at Donovan. Another Vale player came over and confronted Donovan Port Vale got the free-kick and the player was not even booked.
The last move of the match was Town's, who moved fluidly from left to right. Allen turned and shoot weakly and wide, when he should have dinked the ball through to the unmarked Pouton.
Overall great anger at the insipid and insulting first half "performance". The game was lost by the bad tactics and formation sent out by Buckley, and the attitude of the players. The second half was what we expect for 90 minutes. Groves looked like he was swimming in treacle, he was way "off the pace". He hasn't performed well this season and recalls the last year played by Joe Waters when he too looked behind the pace. Is this the end for Groves?
Although Ashcroft has been mentioned many times within this report this is deceptive. He was either offside, not up with the play, or indulging himself with Reesian flicks which came to nothing. He looked disinterested and unfit (though not as unfit as Gallimore). A phrase used by Barry Davies springs to mind whenever Ashcroft has the ball "Over-indulgent nonsense".
The one positive thing to come out of this game was a minor fact found nestling within the programme. There is only one Port Vale player without a kit sponsor this year. Guess who?
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