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Question of the Week

Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?



26/08 Sheff Wed 1st Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 26/08/2000

New Manager Lennie Lawrence witnessed at first hand from the stand today the amount of work his new task entails. For the second consecutive home league game, Town pick up no points whatsoever, going down 1-0 to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Grimsby Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1
26 Aug 2000, Nationwide League Division 1

A hot, humid day under grey skies. The away end was completely full and their band was in residence somewhere in the Osmond Stand. The pre-match entertainment was provided by some young woman belting out club standards. Did she have to sing "I Will Survive" twice?

The players warmed up slightly differently from usual - they spent over half an hour running across the pitch in unison and doing stretching exercises. They then spent 10 minutes "doing the usual", before they trouped off one by one. With 5 or so minutes to go before kick off the chairman and new manager walked across the pitch from the Findus/Stones/John Smith for the formal introduction to the crowd. Mr Lawrence was given a sustained round of applause which was on the generous side of polite. I didn't hear any cat-calling. Actually, he was given two rounds of applause - once when he walked on, and once when he walked off.

Town lined up in the old familiar 4-4-2 formation. Butterfield played at left back, Pouton right wing and everyone else where you would expect them to be now. Sheff Wed lined up in a 4-4-2 formation in an all white strip with only one foreigner - an Italian called Di Piedi, who seemed to be wearing Benito Carbone's spare hair.

As 3 o'clock approached the atmosphere built, aided by the Sheff Wed band, who managed to get some of the Town support clapping along to them too.

Grimsby Town
D Smith



1st half

Wednesday Action Photo
Town Emerge
Town kicked off towards the away supporters and tried a variation on the "kicking it slowly in the air to Donovan" routine, by kicking it quickly to the opposition near Pouton. The first 5 minutes had a pulsating, vibrant, atmosphere with both sets of supporters singing with gusto. No need to guess which set of supporters became silent first.

Town started a little frenetically, getting the ball forward a bit more quickly, often more directly. This didn't cause any problems for the Sheff Wed defence as their centre backs were a) taller and b) faster than our mighty front pair. The most cunning of these offensive ploys was the belief that Jeffrey would outpace Des Walker with little balls over the top, or through balls between the centrebacks. So cunning it never worked.

Wednesday Action Photo
Full House

Similarly Allen failed to win many of the high balls knocked up to him. Why can't that man grow 6 inches! The only action in the first 5 minutes was when the Italian fell theatrically under a Livingstone challenge. We cheered as Livvo won the ball and quickly shut up when he passed the ball back to Sheff Wed.

The first effort on goal was from Sheff Wed - a firm drive from 20 yards, to the right of centre, which Coyne held to his chest. This followed a passing movement across the pitch, exposing Town on the right. Town's first dangerous moment was when D Smith cut inside, passed to Jeffrey, and the resulting pass between the central defenders was just over hit, with Des Walker outpacing Allen in the "D" and clearing for a corner.

The game wasn't end to end, more edge of box to edge of box, with no real chances, just a few crosses which were cleared with varying degrees of panic by both defences. Town only had a couple of half chances to create half chances, mainly with D Smith involved. He was played in on the left hand side of the box by Allen, but went a bit wide and his cross was easily caught under the cross bar by Pressman (who had endeared himself to the crowd by acknowledging that he was the porky man in yellow). So in the first 20 minutes there was sound and fury, but nothing tangible by either side.

And then they scored. Shocked and stunned, a total surprise (not the first time the players and supporters had those feelings this week). Butterfield received the ball about 20 yards out, to the left of centre. He decided to ponder, cogitate, consider, think and contemplate prior to clearing. By the time he finished doing these a Sheff Wed player had ambled over and blocked his clearance. The ball dribbled sideways to DI PIEDI, about 20-25 yards out. He turned and hit a swirling, dipping right footed drive which swirled and dipped over Coyne and into the top centre of the net. Cue half a dozen spectators to leap onto the pitch from the lower Stones/Smiths/Findus. They appeared to be Sheff Wed supporters and they caused a 2 minute delay whilst the police and stewards wrestled them off the pitch. There was an audible sigh from the Pontoon and 1,500 shoulders slumped forward.

Town's response was discouraging. As the half progressed the passes became more and more underhit, the movement less and less. I say more, as during the period of parity Town had looked nervous, unconfident and wracked with fear. Their passing had been noticeably "short" and players had bumped into each other a few times, going for the same tackle/clearance.

Wednesday Action Photo
Pressman: Missed Punch

As is becoming increasingly the case, McDermott injected some urgency and life into the Town attacks. About 5 minutes after the goal he surged down the right and whipped in a cross to the far post to Groves, who slightly mistimed his jump and his header looped with little power straight to Pressman. As usual, Groves seemed to be the only threat posed by Town, with his late runs into the box. The best chance Town had in the first half was when Pressman came out and missed his punch when under pressure from Groves.

The ball fell to D Smith about 20 yards out in the centre, but he couldn't control the ball and his shot was easily blocked. Apart from that, Town's only other efforts in the half were a Jeffrey turn and volley, which dribbled slowly to Pressman and a McDermott cross shot, which again dribbled slowly to the 'keeper. Jeffrey's was a poor piece of play as this was the one time he should have controlled the ball, looked up and passed to someone else (Allen was free behind Des Walker, who had come across to try and intercept Jeffrey). McDermott's effort was a result of him driving forward and playing a one-two with Jeffrey (I think).

Wednesday, who always looked more at ease with the football, created little, but threatened often, mainly through their two big forwards, Sibon (bloomin' huge) and Di Piedi (strapping). Generally they were well marked by Raven and Livvo, who didn't give them any space to have chances. There were a couple of header from Wednesday, but they didn't go too near the goal. Di Piedi tried a spectacular overhead kick from one goal mouth melee, but it went a couple of yards wide. Coyne was only troubled by Livvo, who twice misheaded close to goal, firstly when he intercepted a long clearance by sending a looping header over Coyne (who only just arched his back and clung on to the ball); and when a Hinchcliffe free kick on the Town right was powered beyond the far post Livvo, unmarked and on the bye line, headed across the face of the goal. Coyne's only other "action" was irrelevant as he saved after the referee had blown for a Town free kick. Oh, and he came out and punched a couple of corners away.

In all, 5 minutes of extra time were played and Livvo's faux pas was deep into that injury time. The teams walked off to cheers (Sheff Wed) and isolated, half hearted, boos and grumbles (Town). Town's performance had been poor in terms of quality, but not lacking in effort - they all tried. Only McDermott and Raven of the outfield players had played well, with Raven making two excellent stretching interceptions of crosses at the near post. Both followed positional errors by Butterfield, who had an absolute stinker. Positional sense limited, distribution poor and generally playing like a startled rabbit. He was directly responsible for the goal and his play thereafter disintegrated. The winger he was marking was making his debut and I am sure he enjoyed it. Groves looked tired and slow (as past it as he looked last season in central midfield), and Coldicott nervous in his passing. D Smith hardly touched the ball as most of the Town attacks came down the right through Pouton. Pouton (who's new haircut makes him look like a dead ringer for Thomas, Big Brother's latest ejectee) showed some lovely skills, but produced nothing. He often did the Donovan/Ashcroft trick of stopping and asking for a free kick, which he rarely got. He still did a couple of great step-overs to win…throw ins. And the throw ins have become very Stacy centred - every throw was delayed until Coldicott ran across to knock the ball back to the thrower, wherever he or the throw was.

It wasn't as if Sheff Wed were a hot team - they were a bit like a toothless Norwich, firmly midtable.

Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Click here for the 2nd half report.

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