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26/02 Palace 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Crystal Palace 0
26 Feb 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
Neither team made any changes at half time. The game deteriorated from a very poor standard, with Palace becoming more direct and Town less able to control the ball, let alone retain possession. It was dire stuff.
The first thing that Town did in the second half was after 58 minutes when Nicholls was replaced by Pouton. Donovan went to centre forward, Pouton to right wing. I do not recall Town getting the ball into the Palace penalty box until the 70th minute, when a back pass was mis-controlled by the 'keeper and he had to run back and pass it to his full back from just in front of the goal line. And Town didn't have any part in that.
After 72 minutes Pouton, finally, was given the ball in space after a cross field pass from Groves. He took on the full back on the outside, creating space with a step over. He got to the bye line and put over a superb cross to somewhere near the penalty spot. Groves headed the cross firmly towards goal, but straight at the 'keeper who tipped it over the bar at full stretch. A minute later Pouton again attacked at speed, with determination, down the right. He cut across the face of the penalty box and passed to Black. Black cut inside, fell over and was booked for diving, whilst limping away. After 80 minutes Clare was set free just inside the left edge of the Palace box by a chipped cross field pass. He hit a first time volley a couple of yards wide of the 'keeper's right hand post. And in the last minute Clare was set free behind the Palace defence from near the half way line. Again he took the ball to the left of the Palace area and, from the edge of the box, sliced the ball further away from goal than he was. There were absolutely no more Town attacks whatsoever. That's it. In the whole game Town had one header on target, 4 shots wide from Clare and the penalty.
Palace managed to make Coyne produce one save - an excellent arching tip over the bar after Forssell had, from 8 yards, flicked a header on from a cross on Town's right. Fan Zhiyi headed a near post corner high and wide. A couple more shots came in which were blocked, and a lot of deep crosses and high balls. Coyne caught one cross, the rest were headed out by Lever and Livvo.
And that really was that. One of those truly forgettable games where the result was the important thing. We got the points, they didn't, forget the rest. Safety gets closer. The defence played resolutely against physically difficult, and larger, opponents. Lever never had a moment (though a scare in the first minute of the second half when Coldicott ducked away from a high clearance at the last minute) and Livvo didn't fall over too many times. For the last half hour or so Palace played 4-3-3 with three quick, and taller, players up front. The fact that Palace could only get one shot on target says a lot for our patchwork defence.
Apart from the annoying fussiness of the referee, who stopped play frequently for debatably small offences (and often got them the wrong way round) there weren't even any peripheral things to report. Radio Humberside described the afternoon as turgid - stunningly accurate (just like Smith's penalty).
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