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15/04 Man City 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Manchester City 1
15 Apr 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
The game restarted with the Mighty Mariner still on the pitch, at right back. He didn't get off for 7 or 8 seconds. At one point he was keeping City on side as they attacked down his wing. After 47 minutes we saw our first (and only) Pouton surge. He collected the ball about 30 yards out, on the Town left and headed towards the penalty box at speed, beating two or three challenges before a last ditch tackle got the ball away.
There wasn't much action for the first 15 minutes of the half. Man City had the ball a bit more, though they never created any chances. Their best opportunity came when they broke away quickly down their centre left and worked the ball over to Kennedy, in an inside right position about 20 yards out. He had a team mate running outside him, and only Gallimore left to beat. Instead of passing outside Gallimore (and thus re creating Bolton's goal of a month ago) he decided to cut across to the right, thus running into 5 Town players. The ball was eventually blocked and cleared. Phew.
After 56 minutes Clare was replaced by Livingstone in a straight swap. Clare was unfortunate to be taken off as he had looked the livelier of the two forwards, and certainly the less inclined to flounce about. Ashcroft had been singularly unable to obtain free kicks - the referee had taken every fall to be a dive or a clean tackle (despite a few whacks and pushes). At the same time they took off Horlock and replaced him with Bishop (giving the intellectuals amongst the Town support the chance to taunt him for his Romany hair). Bishop didn't do anything, unlike Livvo who, incredibly, won nearly everything in the air (although they were able to cope with his gazelle-like pace).
Town picked up the pace of the game after Livvo's introduction, and slightly altered their style of play, utilising Livvo's forehead. Town began to infiltrate the penalty area and have chances. After about an hour D Smith was played inside the full back, after an Ashcroft flick, and advanced to the bye-line. His cross to the centre of the goal was headed away at full stretch by Jobson for a corner, as Livvo lurked behind. A few minutes later Ashcroft was released into the area, to the (Town) left of goal by a Livvo flick on. As Ashcroft was about to shoot, with the 'keeper spreading himself, a defender slid across and diverted the right foot flicked shot away for a corner. Coldicott hit a right foot volley straight at the 'keeper following a Town corner on the left which was half cleared to him near the edge of the penalty area on the centre right. Ashcroft, Coldicott and Donovan combined down the Town right with Coldicott crossing to the near post. A defender slid in to hoof away for another corner, again as Livvo lurked. Groves tried a spectacular overhead scissor kick which went 20 yards wide. These were exciting moments of danger and half chances, but Town did have a golden opportunity to win.
With about quarter of an hour left a City clearance ricocheted off a Town player on the Town right, across the pitch to Livvo. He was right on the centre of the pitch, about 30 yards out and totally alone. He lumbered towards goal and, near the edge of the penalty area, tried to place a shot to the 'keeper's right. He hit it too weakly and too close the 'keeper, who stuck out his right foot and kicked it away. It was a little odd as all the players were moving as if the whistle had gone for a free kick (it hadn't), the 'keeper stayed totally upright, and it was all in slow motion (well it would be with Livvo, wouldn't it). With 5 or so minutes left their 'keeper, for the umpteenth time, miss kicked straight down the middle. The ball was returned to Ashcroft, about 30 yards out with his back to goal. As he laid the ball back to Livvo he was fouled from behind. Livvo immaculately chipped the 'keeper (who was still retreating) just like Beckham. Unfortunately the referee had given Town a free kick. In the last minute a free kick from Town's right was clipped low towards the right of the Man City box. Livvo, on the edge of the box, swiveled and steered a right foot volley across the face of the 'keeper's right hand post.
The most controversial period of the game came about with 10 or so minutes left. A Town cross from the right was headed on near the edge of the box towards a gap on the centre right of the penalty area. As the ball was about to go through, a Man City hand stopped the ball. All the Town players jumped up for a penalty. None given. The referee ran off pointing to his chest. The ball was cleared down their left. The winger controlled the ball out of play. No throw in given to Town. More hoots and roars from the Town support. and the Lower Stones was really losing its temper. The winger went on and crossed into the centre. Goater stepped across the centre backs and miss kicked the ball into the net. Fortunately the linesman flagged for offside (the Pontoon was not totally convinced that Goater was offside, but was totally convinced that Town should have had a penalty and a throw in). Goater's only other involvement in the game was 20 minutes earlier when he miss kicked again when free 15 yards out. Again he was flagged offside.
Man City's other attempts on goal where a free kick from Kennedy 30 yards out, centrally placed. He strolled up and side footed in a few inches wide of Coyne's right hand post. Fortunately he did not curl the ball enough. Kennedy also had another cross shot from their left which went 1 yard wide of Coyne's left hand post, an almost identical move to one in the first half. In the last minute of extra time a cross from Man City's right to the far post was flicked on to Kennedy, about 8 yards out and 8 yards to the right of the goal. He chested it down and drove a powerful shot straight at Coyne, who beat it away for a corner.
The final whistle brought a standing ovation and smiles for the Town performances, together with raging boos for the referee. He only gave one hand ball all day - against Ashcroft when the ball was smashed across him and it may have struck him. I counted 5 blatant and very obvious hand balls from Man City, including two penalties. In addition to his belief that Man City players have the widest chests in football the referee also looked charitably upon the (otherwise very good) left back Tiatto, the Weeble. With 10 minutes or so left Ashcroft turned just inside the City half, on the Town left and played a superbly weighted low pass behind the defence for Donovan. As Donovan ran on towards goal, about 30 yards out, with only the 'keeper to beat, the left back slid in from behind. Donovan crumpled (not unusual, I know) and the ground expected a free kick and sending off. Play on, of course. Livid we were. And Buckley got very animated.
Apart from that the only other moments to savour where when the City forward, Dickov, lost his left boot when chasing for a ball with Lever. Seeing this Lever decide to take a huge swipe at his naked foot. Being Lever he missed. And the City 'keeper was the worst fly kicker seen at Blundell Park this year - he's an accident waiting to happen. But at least he's someone else's accident.
Generally there cannot be any complaints about any member of the team. They all contributed something. Despite a couple of loose moments in the first half (the goal and a dropped head back) Coyne handled most of the crosses very well - again coming out and catching a couple. Lever and Groves were rock solid and Butterfield dealt effectively with Kennedy, who hardly got a cross in all day. It was a fine team performance and one which deserved more than just a point. No complaints today.
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