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11/03 QPR 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Queens Park Rangers 1 Grimsby Town 0
11 Mar 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
QPR had obviously changed their tactics at half time. Instead of trying to play themselves through the middle with little flicks and turns, they resorted to getting their wingbacks to sling in deep crosses. Town were a bit soporific at the start of the second half and so had to withstand a period of concerted pressure. This resulted in several corners and scrambles (one of which is indescribable in any detail as the ball bobbled around at speed and was hacked out and cleared eventually from near the left hand post). Coyne was forced to come out to the edge of his 6 yard box, on his right, and block a Kiwomya shot with his knees, after the ball was knocked over Lever. You can't blame Lever as Kiwomya is so quick. There was another "moment of danger" when a deep cross from the QPR right wing back into the 6 yard box was missed by two sets of players. The ball eventually rolled out for a goal kick.
Nicholls contributed less in the second half and was rapidly replaced by Livingstone (after 55ish minutes). As one Town supporter noted, "at least we've got some pace now". He was only half joking. Within 5 minutes Town had an attack - Donovan getting to the bye line to the right of goal, being blocked for a corner. A minute or two later, Town got a penalty. The ball was played into Clare, on the QPR left hand side of the box. He twisted and turned and hit a firm cross which was blocked by a defender. The ball rebounded off the defender, onto Clare, and back off the defender. Clare put his hand in the air and the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. The Town supporters stood up, cheered, and turned red in embarrassment. The defender seemed to be stood within a foot or two of Clare and I don't recall the crowd reacting at all - until the referee pointed. D Smith hit the ball a foot or two above ground to the 'keeper's left. The goalkeeper dived to his left and the ball hit his body, spinning across the right hand side of the goal and out for a corner.
This spurred the QPR supporters into making some noise and their team attacked with a little more gusto for a while. In other words, they flung in a few more crosses. A cross from the Town right was deflected high into the air. Beck nodded the ball on and Wardley, from a position near the penalty spot, headed it powerfully towards Coyne's top right hand corner. From nowhere Pouton dived across goal and headed the ball over the bar. This resulted in two or three corners in succession from one of which the ball was headed off the line, and another was headed gently into Coyne's arms.
With quarter of an hour left Town broke away down the left and the ball was, eventually played to Clare. He turned and attempted to play a first time pass inside the wing back for Donovan. Unfortunately he played the ball straight to the wing back, who promptly ran off down the wing. The ball was eventually lobbed over Gallimore, just inside the left hand corner of the Town penalty area. Gallimore let the ball bounce and Kiwomya (I think) got behind him and was through on goal. Gallimore slid in to clear from the behind and to the side. The QPR attacker fell over and the referee gave the penalty. I could not see clearly whether Gallimore got the ball or not, though it was no surprise that the penalty was given. It did not look to be a dive from 120 yards away. BECK placed the ball to Coyne's right as Coyne jumped up and down and waived his hands. There is no way on earth that Beck would have scored in open play.
Town's response was a surging break from midfield by Pouton, who ran past the last line of defenders, on the Town left, and was hacked down 2 yards outside the area. The referee didn't even book the QPR defender. The free kick was rolled sideways and Clare sliced a shot many, many yards high and wide.
A couple of minutes later Black replaced Gallimore, with D Smith going to left back. At this time Groves went up front and Town played a 3-4-3 formation. Within a couple of minutes QPR brought on Kevin Gallen and also seemed to go to a 3-4-3. Town did not really threaten to score despite applying more pressure. Pouton hit a right foot drive about 5 yards wide of the 'keeper's right hand post when he advanced into the left hand corner of the box. Livvo was near, but did not slide in. D Smith also managed to get near the goal, about 8 yards to the left of the goal. His right foot lob went far wide and high, again with Livvo near. The 4th official showed a minute to go, so the referee played 35 seconds and stopped play when Town were breaking away and about to launch a last attack. Who knows what may have happened in those missing 25 seconds? We may have forced their 'keeper to make a save.
The game ended meekly. The performance wasn't bad, being better than against Walsall last week. The defence looked organised and confident (excepting the usual occasional difficulties with crosses which are almost de rigeur for Town). Offensively Town looked limited, with little mobility, pace or creativity. The most dangerous moments were produced by Pouton with three determined, pacey dribbles from deep. Clare played almost alone, as neither Nicholls nor Livingstone offered any kind of support. Livvo managed to win one header in 35 minutes and managed to control the ball only two or three times.
It was, generally, a solid, average performance which should have resulted in a draw. Neither side particularly deserved anything more from it and both looked to be mid-table teams playing out the season. There weren't even any fully fledged "Lever Moments" to thrill the crowd. It was, in a word, boring.
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