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19/02 Norwich 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Norwich 3 Grimsby Town 0
19 Feb 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
Clare replaced Ashcroft to general pleasure. Within 2 minutes of the restart Town had cracked open the Norwich defence. Some sustained short passing and movement down the right, involving McDermott, Clare, Allen and Coldicott saw the ball knocked over the defence behind their left back. Donovan was free on the left edge of the Norwich area with just one defender in the centre and Pouton unmarked about 15 yards out, Donovan looked up and decided to volley across the face of the goal. It went 10 yards wide, and heads dropped, not just in the crowd.
Not much happened for the next 15 minutes, except that Town were being forced to defend a lot, especially from deep crosses. It was noticeable that Norwich changed their style in the second half, they attempted to sling crosses to the far post. Fortunately most went into the crowd or Coyne's hands (yes, he came out and caught a few). After about 55ish minutes Coyne produced a brilliant save. A free kick was half cleared to a Norwich player about 25 yards out just to the right of centre. He connected perfectly with a half volley that flew towards the top left hand corner of Coyne's goal. Coyne flipped the ball over the bar with his left hand. It was a fantastic save. He then came out and caught the corner.
After 60 minutes D Smith was replaced by Butterfield, who took over at left back. Livvo went to centre forward, Groves to centre back and Pouton to left centre midfield as Town changed to a 4-3-3 formation. We had 4 minutes of excitement as Town launched one sustained attack and won a corner. Norwich promptly broke away and scored. The ball was played down the left touch-line, behind Butterfield, to Dalglish who turned Groves and crossed low towards the near post. RUSSELL, about 6 yards out to the left with his back to goal, flicked the ball with his right foot back towards the penalty spot. He turned and unleashed a powerful cross shot with his left foot across Coyne into the right hand side of the net.
A couple of minutes later another Norwich attack down the Town left saw the ball played into almost the same spot. Coyne came out and blocked the shot with his feet. By this time the Town players looked as though they had settled for 2-0 and were prepared to play out time. Unfortunately for them Norwich wanted to score more goals and they again visibly raised their pace. So Town had to work hard to keep the score down. They weren't up to it. There were tremendously large spaces opening up all over the Town midfield and defence. The major problem seemed to be lack of width. Whenever Town attacked the play stopped to walking pace as there was little movement and no width. At times there was literally no-one available to a pass to. This resulted in Town players being caught in possession and passing to Norwich players. All the Town players started to resemble a colony of rabbits caught in a car headlamp - just waiting to be run over.
Town had their first shot on target after about 72 minutes. Butterfield cut in from the left and shot straight at the 'keeper from 25 yards. A couple of minutes later Norwich scored again. Another cross from the left, about 8 or 9 yards out from the bye-line, curled slightly away from Coyne and went beyond the far post. The ball went over McDermott to LLEWELLYN who headed over Coyne into the left of the goal. The whole ground seemed surprised that it had gone in as it did not appear to be a dangerous position or cross.
After this Town's performance deteriorated even more, if that was possible. Donovan saw a lot of the ball, but did nothing with it. Pouton became Mr Shins, incapable of passing or controlling the ball. One embarrassing, but comedic, moment occurred when Town laboriously manoeuvred the ball from left, to right and back again, going forward about minus 10 yards in the process. As Norwich players pressurised Coldicott, near the half way line, he played a short pass against Pouton's shins. The ball rebounded towards the Town goal to a Norwich player. The danger was cleared by Lever eventually, but it did rather highlight the ineptitude displayed by Town.
Norwich had a few more efforts on goal, Roberts had a couple of headers near the edge of the 6 yards box which went very high and wide, and they had a couple more long shots which didn't go near the goal (despite an OOOOOOOO from their supporters). In the last minute Clare and McDermott managed to get inside the Norwich penalty area after a short free kick routine. All Town got was a corner, but it was one of the few signs of passing and movement all afternoon. After a, thankfully, short period of added time the game ended with Town losing not quite as heavily as they should to a team slightly better than them but who wanted to play more.
Of all the Town players who played or, to be more accurate, were on the pitch for 90 minutes, only Coldicott, Lever and Coyne can have any satisfaction in their performance. It was the sort of performance regular attendees would recognise from Town in April after "safety" had been reached. They are resting too soon. Town were lacklustre, listless, limpid, lethargic, leaden, leaderless and made the fans livid. Legumes or lemons?
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