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Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
11/09 Walsall 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Walsall 0
11 Sep 1999, Nationwide League Division 1
And the pattern of the game didn't change. Disjointed, scrappy, annoying. The longer the game went on the worse Lester and Ashcroft (especially Ashcroft) became.
Let's get Walsall's "chances" out of the way first :-
a) A centre half headed straight to Coyne after a long throw from Neil Pointon (who it took the Pontoon 80 minutes to remember used to play for Scunthorpe); b) With 5 minutes left a deep cross from their right reached the far post, about 8 yards out. Either Coldicott or Donovan slid in with their player and the ball dribbled slowly to Coyne; c) No, that's it.
On the other hand, in between the long periods of tedium, Town did produce moments of danger, and the occasional flowing move :-
a) Donovan raced down the right, beating a player. His cross from the bye-line was set up for Groves to welly in, from a central position, but he miscontrolled. He helped the ball along to D Smith who hit a volley with the outside of his left boot straight at the 'keeper, from about 12 yards, just to the left of the goal; b) Groves had a weak shot from 20 yards which was so bad the goalkeeper injured his ankle after diving several hours too soon; c) After an hour Ashcroft released Lester just inside the area, on the Town right. Lester sidestepped three defenders and was about 10 yards out, just to the left of centre, with just the goalkeeper between him and net. The goalkeeper went down low, very early, so Lester chipped the ball high and wide of the right hand post. It was, in effect, an open goal and was a terrible miss. Not so "Super" today. d) Ashcroft was set free, very close to the bye-line on the Town right, and shot low, straight at the goalkeeper from about 10 yards; and e) In injury time (of which there was 5 minutes) Black cut onto his right foot, about 15 yards out, to the left of the goal, and curled a shot just wide of the post. Just like his free-kicks.
And then, of course, there is the goal. During a particularly inauspicious period of play (after about 70 minutes) Bradley Allen was sent on to replace D Smith. The crowd were a little unhappy at this change as, though they wanted Allen on, they definitely wanted Ashcroft off. Allen went up front with Lester and Ashcroft played as a left winger. Within 2 minutes of coming on Allen had cemented his status amongst the Blundell Park hordes as "Super Sub".
Lester received a throw in just inside the Walsall area, to the Town right, about 4 yards from the bye-line. He was allowed to turn and he got to the bye-line and whipped in a cross. The goalkeeper only parried the ball high up into the air. ALLEN, just to the left of centre and about 7/8 yards out hooked in a volley from slightly behind him. And the crowd went wild. For once Town had a striker poaching/sniffing, rather than hanging about the far post.
With about 10 minutes left Ashcroft was finally taken off and replaced by Black. Ashcroft was very fortunate that he wasn't booed off the pitch as his display in the second half had been awful. I think Buckley decided to take him off after Ashcroft produced a Reesian flick to a high ball on the half way line when he was the "last man". The ball nearly bounced to a Walsall attacker, with Gallimore clearing.
Town deserved the win, for they were the only team with any sustained attacking intent, and in the first 20 minutes had played some very good football. In all Town had over a dozen attempts on goal, whilst Walsall had two. The defence was reasonably solid and played as a "unit", with Coldicott proving a more than adequate short term replacement for McDermott. Even Coldicott's crossing was ok. He has truly grown to become Jobling Mark II. Pouton looks like he can do everything (apart from shoot, his shooting is terrible. York fans were right about that). His tracking back and "recovery" tackles were exceptional and real crowd pleasers. Now Burnett and Pouton together. Mmmmmm tasty thoughts.
Ashcroft and Lester were good for 20 minutes. Unfortunately the next 70 were shocking. Neither looked fit or committed. And neither remotley looked like they would score a goal.
But to quote from virtually every person in Blundell Park "Well, it's 3 points, isn't it". Ultimately who cares how we got them. We got them.
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