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29/04 Tranmere 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Tranmere Rovers 2
29 Apr 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
Once again there was no half time entertainment, just two blokes from Lincs FM gibbering. One of them tried to whip up the crowd by saying something about "Town getting to the Premiership next year", which resulted in the crowd simply laughing at him.
No changes were made by either team at half time.
There was absolutely no goal mouth action of any kind until the 71st minute. After 10 or so minutes of the half Pouton was legged up from behind by Mahon, who was booked. This was the third or fourth time in the match that Pouton had got past a Tranmere player and been brought down. They seemed to have realised that he was a danger and he was stopped as far away as possible, by whatever means. Pouton received a minute or two of treatment, after which he was limping heavily for a few minutes.
In the 71st minute Pouton, on the half way line, under the Findus/Smiths/Stones stand, did a quadruple step over followed by a surge past the full back. He whipped in a low cross to the near post, about 12 yards out, where Lever headed firmly down. The ball went a few inches wide of the 'keeper's left hand post.
A minute or so later Clare was replaced by Allen, and Black by A Buckley. One substitute received a huge cheer, the other some boos. No clues needed to guess which was which and who is who. We thus had the unusual spectacle of both teams containing the managers respective sons (as Aldridge had sent his son on a substitute a few minutes earlier). The first thing that A Buckley did was take a corner on the Town left. He curled it away from goal to somewhere near the corner of the 6 yard box, about 8-10 yards out. Lever flicked the ball on firmly towards the far post where Allen, running backwards into space, hooked the ball over the bar from 7 or 8 yards out. Five minute later A Buckley was booked for a jumping slide tackle, which was almost a stamp. Around the same time John Aldridge was told off by the referee, presumably for being a Bandy Scouse Git.
In the last 10-15 minutes Tranmere abandoned their gay, carefree adventurous formation of one man up and seemed to go to a 4-3-3. It didn't seem to make much difference. On 80 minutes Ashcroft was replaced by Bloomer (for some reason Ashcroft was applauded off the pitch. Something he didn't deserve on today's performance). This resulted in Livvo going to centre forward with Bloomer, of course, at right centre back. In the 82nd minute Tranmere got a free kick on their left, about 30 yards out, 8 or so yards in from the touchline, after McDermott wrestled Mahon to the floor. The free kick was touched sideways and Mahon hit a deep cross curling away from goal. ALLISON wrestled and nudged Lever away and headed into the roof of the net from 5 yards out, just to the inside of Coyne's left hand post. It was Tranmere's first attack of the half, and the only time all game that Lever failed to mark, or otherwise deal with, Allison. More "tuts" and groans, but this time we knew Town wouldn't come back and equalise. A couple of "Buckley Out" chants emanated from the deeper bowels of the Pontoon, though with little support or conviction. The team lost all shape and played aimlessly in the remaining minutes. I can't remember them getting within 25 yards of the Tranmere goal.
On the other hand, Tranmere could have gone on to record an even more emphatic undeserved victory. In the 85th minute Aldridge slightly miss-hit a shot from the edge of the area, centrally placed, which Coyne saved low to his left by pushing it away for a corner. In the last minute Tranmere got a free kick about 25 yards out, just to the (Town) left of centre. After much too-ing and fro-ing, with Chapman standing on the goal line and then running up to the wall, whilst Tranmere players ran up to him and back again, Mahon curled the free kick on to the left hand post. The ball hit Chapman on the way out, bouncing in front of goal. Bloomer calmly launched it into the Findus/Stones/ Smiths stand. He had done something similar a couple of minutes earlier when a cross fell into the 6 yards box, just in front of him, when he was facing goal. He calmly assessed the situation before whacking it down the pitch. Bloomer, in the 10 minutes he was on, looked very assured and calm. He always seemed to have time, almost like a composed Handyside.
After 2 further minutes of boredom the referee allowed us to go home. Nobody booed and a couple of players got some applause (Chapman and Pouton). Overall the game really should have been 0-0, as neither team were much use, nor created anything. The most that can be said about this game is that both teams fulfilled a contractual obligation.
As for performances, that is a misnomer for the most part. Pouton perked up in the second half and looked a bit more dangerous. There was one positive in the solidity and confidence of Chapman. He is definitely as asset and one for the very near future. Say next season? The others were a mixture of the ok and the dreadful. Groves is no longer an option in midfield. There was no creativity from the centre and he acted as a hindrance to attacks through his slowness to react and pass.
Town started the season with a home loss against organised dross from the North West under a grey sky, they ended it in exactly the same way against the same type of opponents. But the sun shone. That wasn't a consolation.
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