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02/10 Ipswich 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 2 Ipswich Town 1
02 Oct 1999, Nationwide League Division 1
It started to rain at half time and the rain got more and more persistent as the half went along, driving towards Coyne's goal.
Changes were made at half time, and they weren't popular. Allen and Burnett off, with Black and Ashcroft on. Ashcroft played up front with Lester, Black played in his "hole" behind them. You know the position, the hole where the ball never goes. Pouton played in the centre, flanked by Coldicott and D Smith. No doubt Black will be described as "helping out" in midfield. I am not sure which midfield he was helping out.
It puzzled many in the crowd that, with Town 1-0 down, the management decided to take off the only acknowledged goal poacher, and the most creative player. They were replaced by the light weight king of the pirouette and the tribute to Tony Rees made flesh (without moustache, but with optional chins). This did not work. The flow of the game did not alter and Town just got worse. Ashcroft did provide a certain presence upfield, and produced a couple of moments of interest, but never looked like scoring as he never got in goal scoring positions. He should have replaced Lester, who was playing with the awareness of a particularly dead goat.
Ipswich continued to pressurise Town, though they did appear to try and score "showbiz" goals. They started to produce flicks and the runs from midfield became fewer in volume. Ipswich scored again after an hour. They won a corner after a shot from 25 yards deflected off Gallimore and looped onto the top of the net. The corner, from the Town right, was swung in to the far post, about 5 yards out. Lever was unmarked and produced a beautifully paced cushion volleyed lay off across the 6 yard box. NAYLOR slid in to score just inside Coyne's right hand post. It was criminal (more of which later) for Town's defence to leave Lever unmarked so close to goal.
What was Town's response? There wasn't one. They just got worse. Passes were too short, control was lacking, movement non-existent. It was very fortunate that Coyne was in such good shot stopping form, and that Ipswich stepped off the accelerator. The other moments of danger created by Ipswich were when Coldicott headed a cross from the left across the face of goal; a free diving header 15 yards out was pushed out for a corner by Coyne, from just inside his right hand post; and a deep cross which Groves back headed away when under intense pressure. Ipswich tended to over elaborate near goal, which is the main reason why there were not more chances. The Town defence was stretched out wide and pulled apart very easily. Only Butterfield, and to a certain extent Groves, had decent games. Poor old Lever has a Toblerone head and Banana feet, more proof that he is a fine Division 2 defender. He did his usual trick of falling over at an inopportune moment, and succeeded in getting himself nut-megged by a man who was falling over backwards.
Town's attacking in the second half was restricted to one shot, by Coldicott, as the 90th minute was struck. He hit a shot a yard wide on the 'keeper's right, from 20 yards. Lester should have had a shot after about 70 minutes when Ashcroft laid off a lovely first time flick to Pouton, who ran on through the centre about 35 yards out. Pouton drew the defence and threaded a beautifully paced ball through the defence releasing Lester. Unfortunately Lester displayed the acceleration of the aforementioned dead goat, somehow managing to allow Wright to reach the ball first. Lester did produce one pass to a team mate in the second half, a challenge by a defender made the ball ricochet off his shins to D Smith.
The only other moments of any interest for Town were a backheel by Ashcroft which set Lester free to run into several defenders; and a couple of surging runs by Pouton down the centre which fizzled out through lack of support. Kingsley Black? He headed the ball a couple of times, pirouetted three times, but did produce one decent cross which went exactly to where Ashcroft's head had been two seconds earlier, but wasn't then.
The thing that woke up the Town supporters was George Burley's kind offering of the head of Gary Croft. With 10 minutes left he brought little Gary Croft on at right back, giving him 10 minutes of tough tackling pacey trickery from Black to contend with. Ha!, yeah right. The former Town starlet arrived to a mixed reception from the Town support. Some boos and some applause. The singing soon started "You're going home in a taxi", "Croft's got more points than Town", "He's going down, He's going down, He's going, Crofty's going down" and other such cruel (but funny) asides (including a couple of minutes of Police siren noises as he ran down the touchline right underneath us). The two thing he had to do he did poorly. He kicked the ball out for a throw-in, and miscontrolled the ball for another throw in.
With 1 minute of injury time played D Smith was finally put out of our misery when he was replaced by Adam Buckley. Some may say this was a waste of time. And they did. And it was.
And the referee finally ended the turgid dross after 3 minutes of injury time. Time moved exceedingly slowly in the second half, just when the Town supporters wanted it to go as quickly as possible. There are only a couple of positives from this game - Butterfield and Coyne. Though with Butterfield that doesn't include his distribution which is still on the Dean Crombie side of "inconsistent". Allen and Burnett seem to have evolved in to playing scapegoats, they are the first players off when Town don't play perfectly, and neither deserved to be withdrawn today (especially Allen). Why has Lester suddenly become Mr Untouchable for the management? He is playing like he knows he is guaranteed a place in the team, no matter what he does, or more accurately, what he doesn't do.
Some of the defending was appalling today, some comically bad. Town did not exist as an attacking force in the second half, and only just in the first. Right from the start the players seemed to have the wrong attitude, they looked, collectively and individually, unprepared for much physical and mental exertion. Ipswich? Well they are easy aren't they. We are their "bogey team" so we don't even have to try.
To sum up Town as a team today. Artless, witless, clueless, pointless.
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