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21/07 Dundee 1st Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 2 Dundee 2
21 July 2000, Friendly
A pleasant summer evening for star gazing and nostalgia down by the riverside. Unfortunately there weren't any stars and the Town support had difficulty recognising Mr I Bonetti during the warm up, as there were 3 other extravagantly tousled men in the Dundee team. Alan Buckley spent 5 minutes chatting to someone right in front of the Pontoon, though neither he nor the Pontoon acknowledged each other.
The pre-match entertainment was provided by the Mighty McMariner, oh so hilariously dressed in a kilt jigging to "Scotland the Brave". I am glad to see the PR machine extended a lot of brain cells and studiously avoided any stereotyping. Och Aye, they did. There were two people wandering round in mice costumes. No explanation was given why they were there and I had to get confirmation from those sitting near me that I wasn't hallucinating. I wasn't.
Eight o'clock arrived and neither team was on the pitch. The game eventually kicked off at 8.05. What a leisurely attitude to time keeping and clashing kits, as Dundee played in very dark blue shirts and shorts with a white stripe down the sleeve and side of shorts. It looked like a training kit, especially as they didn't have names on the back of their shirts and lined up 1-11. Ah, the old simple days of two years ago.
Town lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation, kicking towards the Pontoon, as follows :- Coyne, McDermott, Groves, Livingstone, Gallimore, Donovan, Pouton, Coldicott, D Smith, Black and Clare. Groves and Livvo were at centre back with Black somewhere near Clare up front. R Smith, Handyside, Raven and Allen were all absent from the substitutes bench, as was Ashcroft of course. The "substitutes bench" is a metaphor, as it included a bench, some grass, down the tunnel a bit and the first row in the main stand, so large were substitutes in number. Bonetti played at left wing, and so was up against wily old Macca.
The game started at a surprisingly brisk pace, certainly quicker than a few
games at the end of last season. Within a minute Bonetti had been played in
behind McDermott and whipped in a fast low cross to the near post, which
Coyne gathered adequately. After 4 minutes Bonetti delivered a superb
swinging cross to somewhere near the 6 yard line. Coyne ambled out and
allowed a Dundee forward to head it out of his hands as he caught it. The
ball looped up behind the stumbling Coyne, who scrambled backwards and
stopped it on the line. Crowd murmurs began about him "being like that last
year". I am afraid those murmurs were accurate as he missed two more
crosses/corners and his fly kicking was woeful (two went straight to Dundee
players 30 yards out). He didn't so much miss the crosses as diffidently
move towards where the ball was and watch a Dundee player head the ball from
in front of him. He didn't even get to the stage of flapping. Dundee
should have had three goals in the first half through Coyne's lackadaisical
approach. One was headed over from 6 yard, centrally placed and unmarked;
the other was glanced wide from a central position, 8 yards out. All three
chances were from deep crosses from Town's right (ie Bonetti's wing).
Town played quite well between the penalty areas, attacking mostly down the right. Any crossing opportunities were wasted as Donovan had the ball. Two went sailing in to 8th row of the Pontoon and another couple were smacked against a defender's bottom. There was some decent movement off the ball, with Clare acting as a strong target man. We even saw a couple of old style wall passes with Clare awaiting a breaking midfielder. Needless to say no chances were created, but the movement was good and the players seemed organised and motivated. Pouton and Coldicott enjoyed a modicum of control in the centre of the park and they were relatively adventurous in joining up with Clare and Black. Pouton even treated us to a surge and two step-overs all in one go. He followed that up by very audibly describing his displeasure at the linesman's decision to award Dundee a throw in. Very audible.
Town's one golden chance of the first half came within the first 15 minutes. A Dundee defender (who had huge tied back hair) messed about when chasing down a hum-drum ball over the top, down the left "channel". He underhit a knock back to the 'keeper straight to Kingsley Black, just outside the penalty area, slightly (to the Town) right of centre. Black strode forward and, from 8 yards out, sliced his shot into the side netting. The only other Town efforts on goal, from open play, were a terrible shot from Pouton from the edge of the area which dribbled 10 yards wide and another Pouton shot, with the outside of his right boot from 15 yards out, which was arcing towards the 'keepers top right hand corner, but was saved comfortably by the massive man in grey.
Oh yes, the goals. After 37ish minutes Bonetti got the ball near the half way line, in an inside left position. He spun and hit a perfectly weighted 40 yard ball onto the chest of a big South American centre forward running between Groves and Livvo. As the forward was about to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, Groves produced a magnificent sliding hook tackle to get the ball. However, as he turned he was harried by the forward and had turned into the path of another Dundee player. He was dispossessed (possibly fouled) and one of the forwards placed a shot from about 20 yards out, centrally positioned, into the top left hand corner of Coyne's goal.
A couple of minutes later Donovan was fouled again (the full back took great delight in stepping across him to obstruct him), just outside the penalty box on the right 12 yards from the bye-line. Black curled in a cross to Groves, about 12 yards out near the penalty spot. GROVES flicked his head and glanced a header into the 'keepers right hand side of the net. Not much else to say about the first half in terms of action, I recall Dundee having a couple of dangerous breaks which resulted in shots high over the bar. Generally it had been a surprisingly competitive game. Town had looked fine (except for the shooting, of course), with plenty of movement and accurate passing. Dundee played a very continental game of containment and quick passing on the break. They had quite a few impressively tricky ball players (not surprisingly they were all the non-Scots in the team). You could tell who the British players were, they all had sensible hair, looked unathletic and had a penchant for giving the ball away. Their big number 3 looked like Niall Quinn's gaunt brother.
Half time: Grimsby Town 1 Dundee 1
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