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27/03 Barnsley 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Barnsley 3 Grimsby Town 0
27 Mar 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
Apparently Barnsley made a change at half time. I don't know who and I don't care either. The second half, in general was a washout. After about 10 or so minutes of the half, Hignett cut through the Town left, cut inside and attempted to curl a shot into Coyne's right hand corner. He reckoned without Lever's elbow which knocked it away setting up a Town counter attack at such speed that the crowd gasped in awe at the audacity of the movements and ball skills (that last may be a flight of rhetorical fancy).
At this stage a certain section of the Town support started to count down Nicholls' Grimsby "career". "8 minutes and counting Mr Nicholls". At this stage he perked up and fell over, winning a free kick. Perked up is a relative term and I merely mean that he moved more that 5 yards in one go. After 63 minutes Nicholls was taken off (thus equalling his record for minutes on the pitch) to great relief and cheers, Bradley Allen sprinting on to a genuine ovation. Nicholls appeared to make some kind of gesture when entering the dug out. He didn't look happy. We were, now that he was off. Never mind lad, it's all over now. You can wake up in your big Chelsea bed and never have to think about working again. Perhaps it is grim up north.
Just like last week, the introduction of Allen coincided with a goal (and, obviously, not one of ours). Barnsley retained possession and attacked down the Town left. The ball was eventually chipped into the edge of the 6 yards box, floating over the covering man (Coldicott). Shipperley controlled the ball, rolled around to his left and easily turned Livvo. SHIPPERLEY hit a low drive through Coyne's legs, the ball going in off his bottom. Town gave far too much time and space to the full back, allowing him time to pick out his man, and Livvo was turned far too easily by a relatively slow player.
That was it, we couldn't even hope for a lucky equaliser now. Almost immediately the hobbling Livvo was replaced by Bloomer. And this was the one thing to cling on to as we slunk away from Oakwell - a small glimmer of hope for the future. About 5 or so minutes after coming on Bloomer did a wonderful sliding tackle to dispossess Dyer near the half way line, on Town's right. He recovered and sprinted 40 yards down the right touchline and swung in a cross to the foot of the near post. That was the fastest a Town player had run for several months and showed a positive footballing mind and great awareness. Similarly about 5 minutes from the end he intercepted a Barnsley through ball on the half way line, on Town's left. He immediately ran forward 10 yards at pace, rolled the ball up to Bradley Allen and ran on into a space between the right back and centre back. Unfortunately Allen turned the wrong way and passed out towards Donovan. It appears we have a ball playing centre back in reserve should Handyside never recover/be sold.
At this point Town had their shot - Gallimore, Allen and Donovan linked somewhat unconvincingly down the left and centre, resulting in a Donovan cross being knocked back to Gallimore by Allen. Gallimore's 20 yarder went about 2 foot wide of the 'keeper's right hand post.
On 77 minutes Butterfield and Coldicott rather piddled about near the half way line, on the touchline. The ball was lost and played up to Shipperley, who was kicked in the air by Lever. The referee allowed "advantage" to Barnsley as Hignett had the ball right in the middle of the Town half. He advanced towards goal, drifting slightly to Town's left, with Bloomer retreating in front of him. Hignett got to the edge of the area and precisely slipped a pass just outside Gallimore towards the replacement wing back, Eaden, Gallimore, in extremely slow motion, stretched and missed the ball, allowing Eaden to get to the touchline, near the 6 yard box, totally free. Eaden pulled the ball back to the unmarked HIGNETT, about 10 yards out in the centre who calmly placed his shot low to Coyne's right.
I have a vague recollection of Coyne making a save low to his right during the latter part of the half, and Shipperley turning Lever on the edge of the box (after chasing a high punt). Butterfield and Bloomer crowded Shipperley out and stopped Lever looking silly. And that was it, as far as "action" goes. There were a couple of minor Lever Moments, with sliced clearances and cushioned volleyed lay offs to Barnsley, but that would be to quibble over his general level of performance. He was quite stoic, as were Coyne and Coldicott (omnipresent, if not omnipotent). The rest of the team was either ok (Butterfield, Clare), invisible (Groves, Black and Donovan) or shocking (Nicholls and Gallimore). Livvo has a special role - called "Being Livvo". Allen was poor when he came on, failing to galvanise the team like he did at Charlton.
It is quite clear that we have two players who are past it (Groves in midfield, and Black just generally), and one who is not bothered (Donovan). Gallimore should be dropped for his own good (and ours, as we pay to watch him) on the basis of his last 2 performances. There was no creativity in midfield and no movement up front. A change of personnel is due in important areas, members of the old guard are failing over an extended period. The Charlton performance was, largely, acceptable, both individually and collectively. Last night's was not. It wasn't as though they were playing anyone any good. The players looked like they had come to keep the score down. They didn't. At least we've seen the back of Nicholls (which is more than any centre back has).
Words to describe Town, collectively? Pusillanimous, dim-witted, timid, panicked, fearful, fey, indifferent. They had losers written across their foreheads from the first minute.
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