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01/04 Hudds 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 0 Huddersfield Town 0
01 Apr 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
The crowd were a little puzzled as to the whereabouts of Nicholls, but the half time entertainment answered that query. He was playing number 6 for West Marsh A in the tiny tots competition. He was rather overpowered by bigger players, and had little effect. One day he may find his level.
The half started quietly, with Town retaining possession and Huddersfield wildly kicking the ball back to us. In the 48th minute some Town interplay down the right resulted in the ball at Ashcroft's feet, 25 yards out. He slid a short , first time pass across and back to Pouton who drove forward past a couple of challenges to get himself into the penalty box, to the right of goal. The 'keeper raced out and Pouton rolled a shot low to the 'keeper's left. The ball rolled towards the empty net. With the Town fans ready to celebrate (and some already doing so) the Huddersfield left back ran back and hooked the ball off the line and away for a corner. It was a superb, strong pacy forward run by Pouton and he received a warm and appreciative roar from the crowd for his effort.
For the next 10 minutes or so Town kept the ball and won loads of corners, most of which hit the forehead of (unmarked) Huddersfield defenders. Donovan never seemed to spot Stacy in the "Paul Scholes position", ready for that stunning volley into the top left hand corner of the Osmond Stand. Near the hour we had some goal mouth action. Town moved the ball down the right hand side to Donovan, who cut in and passed across the edge of the box to Ashcroft. He turned, went forward a pace and, with imperceptible back-lift from 15 yards to the right of goal, unleashed a fast and powerful drive straight at the 'keeper. The gangling and hitherto lackadaisical Belgian managed to raise his hands in time to punch the shot away from his face. A foot to the left or right and it would have been in, but it wasn't, so it ended up a Town throw in.
Nothing particular happened for another 10 minutes. Around the 65/70th minute events occurred. Butterfield replaced McDermott (who had played terrifically, but may have been tiring), Huddersfield also changed a striker (Hay replacing Armstrong). Within 5 seconds of coming on the pitch Hay had dribbled past a couple of Town players (I have a vague recollection of Gallimore flailing around) and got to a position about 9/10 yards out near the left corner of the 6 yard box. As he was about to shoot, 4 Town players converged on him like a giant clam, the ball ricocheting away for a corner.
A couple of minutes later Huddersfield had their first effort on goal. From a free kick, 30 yards out to Town's right under the Findus/John Smith/Stones Stand (incorrectly given after Lever had fairly tackled and the Huddersfield player had dived badly), Wijnhard got a yard in front of his marker (Pouton) and flicked a header a few inches wide of Coyne's left hand post. Wijnhard was about 8/9 yards out and centrally placed and should really have scored. And that, sirs, was the very first time they had got into Town's penalty box. Around the same time Allen replaced Ashcroft, who got a standing ovation. Partly through his performance (relief at having a proper forward, trying) and partly as a message to the manager.
A few minutes later Town won a free kick near the right edge of the Huddersfield box, about 25 yards out. D Smith trotted in and smacked a stonking drive a few inches over the 'keeper's right hand angle of post and bar. Ooooooh said the crowd, and quite right too. Huddersfield went up the other end and had a shot themselves. A corner on Town's left was half cleared to their left full back, Vincent, who hit a drive from 25 yards which grazed Pouton's forehead and looped slightly. Coyne, centrally placed, re-adjusted his feet and tipped the ball over the bar. It was a very good save, though perhaps in the category of "good save if he saved it, error if he missed it". Still it was the only save he had to make all game. With 10 minutes left Wijnhard headed into Coyne's arms from 5 yards out following a corner, but the referee had already given Town a free kick. So that doesn't count as a chance.
That is it as far as chances and efforts on goal. In injury time Huddersfield did create some moments of anxiety for the crowd when they finally decided to attack Town on the left. Gallimore was made to look silly when the substitute right winger allowed a pass to go between his legs (and Gallimore's) and ran on to be free. Fortunately Stacy and Pouton were back to cover. Deep into injury time, Gallimore failed to slide the ball out of play after it was knocked behind him for Wijnhard to run on to. Wijnhard failed to make anything of his one on one as other Town players came back to cover, principally D Smith who acted as Gallimore's muscle all game. It was noticeable that Smith played quite deeply when Town defended and he made a point of doubling up on the original right winger Donis. Donis was eventually replaced, principally because D Smith gave him no time and harried him constantly.
After two minutes of extra time the game was ended to a rapturous ovation from the Town supporters. A fully deserved standing ovation, with Pouton receiving some special cheers for a thundering, all action display. He produced a couple of surging runs (in addition to his chance) which caused minor panics in the Huddersfield defence. They couldn't cope with his dribbles and surges from midfield. He was also prominent in the midfield battle and with his covering in defence. He was the best player on the pitch by some distance and it was reminiscent of (but an improvement on) his performance against Forest last August. He and Coldicott formed an impenetrable wedge in the centre. Groves and Lever were largely untroubled, and Coyne was confident in dealing with crosses - he came out and caught at least three. McDermott was close to his best, with Butterfield a more than adequate substitute. Gallimore was protected well by D Smith, and Huddersfield rarely attacked down the left anyway, so it is not really possible to assess his performance, though he didn't do any major bloopers and it would be most churlish to criticise. D Smith was relatively effective going forward and Donovan was occasionally ok. He did win a lot a free kicks by falling over in jellyfish mode. His crossing was at its usual standard and he didn't have much confidence when taking on the full back. However, he did form a dangerous triumvirate with Clare and Ashcroft. The passing and movement on Town's right caused Huddersfield great discomfort and, compared to the ineptitude shown recently, was most heartening. Clare certainly enjoyed having a decent footballer as a strike partner.
The referee got hit full in the face by a Huddersfield clearance, knocking him over to the amusement of all. It didn't knock any sense into him as he continued to make erratic decisions. He booked only one player all game, the Huddersfield right back. The same player was warned twice more after dumping Town players with crunching late tackles. He received a little finger wag and a "don't do it again warning". A sterner referee would have sent the bloke off for THREE bookable offences. Still, mustn't grumble too much. Before the game we'd have settled for a clean sheet or a draw. The performance was really encouraging, not just for its cohesion, but also for the passion displayed. There is still some fire left deep within Blundell Park.
There isn't much to say about Huddersfield apart from "why are they 6th?", they are a sort of vastly inferior Barnsley. Their fans are a bit odd. As well as their Hermaphrodite flag they only got excited on 4 occasions - each time when they won a throw in half way inside the Town half. How odd.
I actually enjoyed the game. Ah yes, I remember now. That's why we go.
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