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12/02 Vale 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 2 Port Vale 0
12 Feb 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
Neither team made any changes at half time, though within a minute Port Vale had to take off a midfielder (Brammer). The second half was, mostly, very poor. Town seemed to sit back and didn't have a shot until the 70th minute, in fact they didn't get into the Vale area at all until the last 20 minutes.
Port Vale had a lot of the ball and succeeded in having some more long shots that went very wide. The widest being from Naylor at 15 yards. Again Coyne was not forced to make ANY saves. He came and caught a corner, and sprinted off his line to take the ball off the toes of an attacker. His fly kicking was atrocious with two being scuffed straight down the middle, fortunately to Town players. The nearest Vale came to scoring was after about 50 minutes when, from a cross flung in from the Vale right about 30 yards out, Lever did a diving header which went a few inches over the angle of post and bar, on Coyne's left. Their only other moment of danger was when one of their players was allowed to advance into a huge gap which appeared to the centre left of the Town area, about 25 yards out. Between Gallimore, Livvo and Lever's bottom the eventual shot was blocked. Do you get the feeling nothing happened in the second half ? Well Clare did have a goal disallowed for offside. The 'keeper fumbled a Clare shot , Allen challenged for the rebound and Clare side footed the ball in from a narrow angle on the right. The flag had been up for a few seconds, though none of the players seemed to realise it.
After about 55 minutes Groves and the centre back, Burton (who was terrible), both attempted to head a low cross in the Vale area. Both remained on the ground for a minute and it looked as though they had "clashed heads". Within a few minutes Burton had been substituted (and so they had used all their subs) and after about 70ish minutes Groves was replaced by Pouton. Immediately Pouton produced Town's first shot of the second half a swinging drive which hit the empty seats to the right of the Vale goal. Pouton actually added some attacking impetus to Town's play and seemed to be back to the form he showed when he first joined - he kept the ball moving and passed to feet (and usually Town feet). Widdrington was booked for taking out McDermott with a late hack, right in front of the referee and I noticed him raise his elbow towards Coldicott after a challenge.
There were two or three moments of skill displayed from Clare and Allen in the fallow period before Groves was taken off. All were after they received clearances on the Town left and released Donovan on the right, with cross field balls. But Donovan was a bit fey in the second and did not attack his full back with as much conviction, turning back on one occasion and crumpling (like a jellyfish) on another. After Groves' substitution Town did have some shots, firstly the Pouton effort, then McDermott exchanged passes with Allen and hit a shot across goal. A Clare cross field ball released Donovan who did an awful shot. Form a central right position on the edge of the area his intended cross shot went 16 yards wide on the right - yes he sliced it further away from goal on the side he was standing! A few minutes later, from almost the same position, he hit a low shot a yard wide of the 'keepers left hand post.
With 2 or three minutes left a Town clearance, high down the middle, was misjudged by a centre back and Clare got behind him, with just the 'keeper to beat. Clare attempted to dribble to the 'keepers left, but Musslewhite spread himself and saved with his left arm. The linesman flagged furiously and the ball rolled to Allen who, from the left edge of the area, drove the ball into the right corner of the net. To everybody's annoyance the referee decided to give Town a free kick and send off the 'keeper, who threw his shirt down on the ground in disgust. Allen berated the referee for failing to play an advantage and the Port Vale captain entered the discussion, but to no avail. As they had used all their substitutes they put Mr Burns in goal (their centre half, not the cartoon character). Of course Black curled his free kick just over the bar, via the wall. Town did not force Mr Burns to do anything, the only shot was when Clare was released on the right side of the Vale area. His shot hit the side netting, after he attempted to dribble past two players.
The only other incident of note was when Clare pushed over the referee when the ref got between Clare and a pass to Clare. Livvo got booked for less. But it amused all as the referee was sent flying, rolling over twice in a most undignified heap. We had no sympathy for the referee as he was tolerant of physical contact by Port Vale but keen to punish Town for any occasion when a Port Vale player failed to remain standing. An good example of which was when Widdrington dived as Lever went near him, resulting in Lever getting booked.
Black was replaced by A Buckley in the 90th minute. This had no consequence whatsoever, except the chance for a handful to boo young Adam, and others to cheer him. After a couple of minutes of extra time the referee allowed us to go home.
Not a great game, especially in the second half, but a larger gap created between us and them. Port Vale were better than Swindon, but that is not a compliment. However, the players did enough and won very easily. Nevertheless there were some positive aspects to draw from this game. Clare continues to impress with his new found maturity and team play. He seems to have formed a very tasty partnership with Allen - Town looked like a team with two strikers who will score goals. The right hand side now appears solid defensively and very progressive in attack. Donovan seems revitalised with McDermott behind him and Clare in front of him. Just don't ask about the left hand side or the centre of defence. We are winning despite these areas of the team. As usual Coldicott gave his all and made some important defensive runs. He certainly had the better of the Port Vale captain. Points in the bag and all that. We got 'em, they didn't. Not much more one can say about the game really
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