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09/09 Gills 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Gillingham 0
09 Sep 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
No changes were made by either team at half time, which included tactics and formation. After 30 seconds Livingstone nearly scored again, Once more Town "created" danger with an aimless punt high over the defence to the right edge of the Gillingham penalty box. A defender headed weakly back to the 'keeper, failing to spot lightning Livvo, who moved forward and twisted as he attempted to poke the ball wide of the 'keeper. He did succeed in poking the ball wide of the 'keeper, but also the post. And very, very slowly. Forget about any Town attacks for the next half hour - there weren't any.
Gillingham immediately went up the other end and nearly scored, though I can't remember exactly what happened. It involved Hessenthaler twisting and turning on the Town right and whipping over a cross. The 15 minutes after half time were, as far as Town were concerned, still ropey. Gillingham had the ball more and the play was generally down at the Osmond end.
The only real threat to Town (apart from the usual corners and free kicks which continue to throw the team into panic) was a break down the Town right where Gillingham got into the penalty area, around the corner of the box and threw over a cross to the far post. The first header was blocked, there was a bit of a scramble and the ball flew out to the right again. The ball was eventually crossed back to the unmarked Asaba, about 10 yards out right in the centre of goal. He headed firmly, but straight at Coyne. There were two Gillingham players totally unmarked within 10 yards of the goal.
The first Town substitution was on the hour, with Butterfield replacing Jeffrey. This resulted in Town reverting to 4-4-2, with Butterfield at wide right. There were a lot less holes. The game was poor, but Town were less poor than before. They reached a sort of negative equality with the mighty Gills. After another 10 minutes Allen was replaced by Clare. From this moment Town became an attacking force, though Clare didn't himself do much that was memorable. Maybe it was his presence and differing style that changed the impetus.
Town's first shot on goal came around the time Clare came on. Pouton drifted into space about 20 yards out, right in the centre. His right footed drive went low, a yard wide of the 'keepers right hand post. In the 74th minute Town produced their best move of the match (probably the only fluid, flowing move) Butterfield advanced down the right after intercepting a half clearance down the line. He passed to Livingstone who moved into the area and worked the ball back to Butterfield, who crossed to the far post. The cross was slightly over hit and Black, about 6 yards past the far post, controlled the ball and returned a hanging cross to a position about 15 yards out, to the left of centre. Butterfield ran in and hit a right foot volley a foot past the 'keeper's right hand post. The 'keeper and defenders were all rooted to the ground, merely watching and hoping the ball would go wide. Before the goal kick was taken Black was replaced by Chapman. You may think the logical thing to do would be to put Chapman at left back and D Smith at left midfield. Chapman played left midfield with D Smith staying at the back. Town thus had two full backs in midfield.
At about this time Gillingham started to up the pace and they nearly scored from a corner. The ball was whacked to the back post and, from about 10 yards out, a defender headed powerfully towards the goal. Coyne flipped the ball away for another corner. The header was, fortunately for Town, sent quite centrally. The alternative view is that Coyne positioned himself perfectly. The fact that Gillingham were pressing forward meant that spaces were now appearing in their defence. In the 82nd minute McDermott whipped in a cross to the far post where Livingstone, unmarked, and about 7 yards out headed back across the face of the goal but softly and wide. Two minutes later Livingstone chased an aimless ball down the Town left and, mark this moment, outpaced a defender. Livvo dribbled past the defender and advanced into the penalty area, very close to the bye-line. Three Town players steamed into the box, unmarked, so Livvo decided to shoot. He side footed his shot tamely into the midriff of the 'keeper. The Town players looked disgustedly at Livvo, especially Chapman who was particularly well placed and unmarked. Livvo looked happy - he'd found a defender slower than him (number 15 , Saunders) and just to make sure it wasn't a fluke he did it again a minute or so later.
Gillingham went down the other end and nearly scored. Hessenthaler dribbled down the right wing, taking the ball out of play. No throw-in was given and he continued down to the bye-line. He whipped in a cross to somewhere near the penalty spot. Asaba jumped up and hooked a flying volley just over the bar. A couple of minutes later D Smith took on Southall, turning him towards Wonderland, then Ramsdens, then back towards Chapmans Pond. D Smith skipped happily past the confused ex-Mariner and dinked a cross to Big Ron's "back stick". Butterfield, about 12 yards out, sent in a looping header which arced over the 'keeper and just over the angle of the left post and bar. A very large "Ooooooh" followed from the crowd.
There were no more chances after this, though a few semi-amusing incidents. Town had a corner which went to the other side of the pitch and resulted in Pouton trying to waste time at the corner flag. He was fouled and, from the free kick, he tried again to keep at the corner flag - he ended up scooping the ball out for a throw in. A Gillingham attack was stopped by Raven on the edge of the area, he then proceeded to advance up the field taking on a couple of opposition players. I won't be surprised if this is described in various publications as a some kind of Handysidesque display of dribbling and attacking intent. Just think of Devon Lock - a series of half tackles forcing the ball up the pitch 10 yards with Raven lunging forward each time to tackle. It was a case of the ball springing up the pitch by accident with Raven desperately doing the splits to block tackle.
After about 3 or 4 minutes, the 2 minutes of added time ended and Town had three points. Apart from the first minute and the last 15, Town were rotten. For three quarters of the game it was like watching them in the last days of the Laws era. Town were so fortunate they were playing a second division team. Individually no-one shone, some were terrible. Pouton's only contribution was to run around and occasionally get in Gillingham's way. He was always standing in the wrong place, and hardly ever managed to pass to a Town player. His dribbles were easily stopped and his "step-overs" ineffective. Raven and Groves were not so much a partnership as two blokes standing near each otherâ€¦ sometimes. The attack was non-existent for most of the game - for some reason Allen seemed to be furthest forward and "the target man", with Livvo on the wing. Jeffrey was totally invisible in the second half, and an ephemeral presence in the first.
A one word description for this game? - awful.
After that performance, one would not expect to see them play 4-3-1-2 again. We don't want a Ted Rogers formation. That way lies Dusty Bin.
Man of the Match: John McDermott - did the work of two, possibly three, men and, as usual, covered for other people's mistakes.
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