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Is the squad strong enough to challenge for promotion?

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12/08 Preston 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 13/08/2000

No changes were made by either side at half time. Town started like they did in the first half. I cannot recall anything much happening in the Preston penalty area for half an hour. There were two or three crosses from Donovan which were either cleared easily, or were too long at the far post.

Grimsby Town 1 Preston North End 2
12 Aug 2000, Nationwide League Division 1

The crowd were beginning to grumble about the number of bad passes, bad control and just plain badness on display. It wasn't long before they were calling for Bradley Allen.

Preston continued to cause Town problems, especially through their two tricky twisting strikers, Basham and Macken. Livvo and Raven were just not good enough. Macken was running and dribbling past Raven at will, causing someone else to come and cover for him, thus leaving a gap somewhere else. After 6 or 7 minutes of the half McKenna nearly scored when he was the "free man" on the Town right, after a mazy Macken run. He was alone, about 8 yards out, near the edge of the 6 yard box. He turned inside and curled a delicate chip just past the angle of Coyne's left hand post and bar. They had a couple more efforts from distance which didn't trouble Coyne. The game was quite poor, with Town looking by far the poorest. There was not even a hope of a crazy own goal to help us. Town were simply not getting close enough to the Preston goal. They were being out thought and outfought in midfield.

Grimsby Town
Coyne
McDermott
Livingstonegoal
Raven
D Smith
Donovan
Pouton
Groves
Black
Clare
Jeffrey

 

Subs
Allen
Croudson
Butterfield
Chapman
Buckley

After 60-65 minutes Allen replaced Clare. For some reason a few Pontoonites booed this decision. Clare had been dreadful and was lucky to have come out for the second half (he had, also, received treatment for a back injury in the first half). Allen did as he usually does, buzzed around a lot without looking totally at ease with the ball. Allen and Jeffrey did, on occasions, link promisingly, with little flicks and runs.

The action in the second half was confined to the last 15 minutes. On 75 minutes, Town had their best chance. Some intense play down the Town left (the ball came in and out a couple of times, with Allen involved fighting for the ball) saw the ball flicked into the area to Jeffrey, who shielded the ball and laid it off to Allen, unmarked, about 8 yards out. Allen smacked a half volley just to the 'keeper's left, who got a hand to it and diverted the ball onto the underside of the cross bar. The ball bounced down a couple of feet in play and was hacked away.

On 80 minutes, after another period of Town pressure (during which Town changed to 3-4-3, with Livvo going up front as the central striker), but no shots, resulted in 3 or 4 consecutive corners, Black floated a corner in from the Town left. Groves raced in and, from about 10 yards out, centrally positioned and totally unmarked, he glanced a header a couple of feet wide. The Pontoon was not required to inform him how bad the miss was, he bent down on the goal line with his head in his hands for a good 5 seconds. It looked like he was going to cry. Groves had earlier headed a couple of corners over when under pressure and also managed to stick his leg out and knock a loose ball wide, after a scramble following a corner on the Town right.

4 minutes later Donovan miss-kicked badly when played in by Allen, about 6 yards wide and to the right, behind the defence. Donovan's shot sliced into the back row of the Pontoon. A minute later Jeffrey hit a decent 30 yard ball to Donovan, hugging the touchline, underneath the police box. Donovan dillied a little, decided to dally too, and was easily robbed of the ball when trying to dribble past the full back. The ball was immediately played down the channel over McDermott and behind Raven. Despite being a couple of yards in front of Macken, Raven was outpaced down the touchline, and was also outfought. Macken and Raven fought each other right to the bye-line in the area, Macken cut across and seemed to hit it too hard, and too close to Coyne. Coyne failed to come off his line quickly enough and Macken knocked the ball past him and across him towards the centre of the goal. Coyne turned and ran after him, but MACKEN slid in and turned the ball into the empty net. A really awful goal to concede and it looked very, very amateurish defending by Raven and Coyne. As soon as the ball hit the net two sounds were heard; Preston fans cheering and that distinctive slap of plastic seats being emptied of bottoms. About a third of the Town fans got up immediately and headed for the hills.

Preston played the ball around and wasted time, whilst Town continued to hurl the ball forward with little hope. However the answer the question on everyone's lips "Where is our next goal coming from?" was about to be answered. Donovan was played in (by Allen I think) behind the left back for the umpteenth time and hit a low shot across the 'keeper, who parried it, but with little pace. The ball rolled gently to somewhere near LIVVO, who raced forward and swept the ball into the net from 4 yards. That was it, no more action.

Town put out a side that looked on paper as if it would lose. It did, and will in the future. Livvo, despite playing quite well himself (excepting a couple of howlers when he tried to be too clever in defence), and Raven are just not good enough at first division level. Groves looked "off the pace", showing his age. It is telling though that he still had most of Town's efforts on goal. When Groves falters, Town falter. Pouton had one of his worse games for Town. He only tried one surge, which was stopped by persistent pulling of his shirt, and was an ephemeral presence today, as was Black. Donovan hinted at danger, and he had the beating of the full back. For the first time for a couple of year he dribbled past a full back! Where is that bunting? Clare was useless and Jeffrey had a couple of good moments, but didn't cause any difficulties for Preston in their own penalty area. His best work was between the half way line and 30 yards out, where he linked well with others. But all this did was get the ball from one winger to another, he wasn't there when the ball got into the box.

I usually look for positives. There weren't any. This report may be a bit uninspired but, then again, so were Town today. 45 to go.

Nicko's man of the match request :- D Smith, he cleared up the mess of others. Effective if not memorable

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