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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Tony Butcher
A grey day with a little chill in the air, but little wind. Despite the new exciting foreign signing the crowd looked small, with Huddersfield filling about 2/3rds of the middle section of the Osmond Stand.
The pre-match entertainment consisted of some teenage girls dancing and crooning whilst Neilsen was applauded every time he touched the ball, walked near anyone and/or breathed. An awful lot of emotion was invested in him.
Town lined up in the formerly usual formation 4-4-2 as follows :- Coyne, Butterfield, Gallimore, Handyside, Groves, Donovan, Campbell, Coldicott, Pouton, Allen and Livingstone. The substitutes were Croudson, Burnett, D Smith, Clare and Neilsen. Looking at the line up you'd expect Coldicott in the centre of midfield with Pouton on the left. Nope, Pouton partnered Campbell in the centre with Coldicott on the left (or more accurately sometimes leftish). To (mis)quote Eric Morecombe - all the right players, not necessarily in the right order.
Huddersfield seemed to be playing 4-4-2 as well. They played in a red kit with dark blue flashings, not dissimilar to Town's away kit, though their 'keeper had exactly the same colourings as the referee and linesmen (except, of course, they didn't have their names on the back of their shirts). No bad hair today, though there were a couple that strayed near that fine line between bouffant and simply hirsute.
As usual Town lost the toss and kicked off towards the Pontoon. For once Town did actually "kick off with a rush" and the first 5 minutes were quite exhilarating. Within 2 minutes Town had won a corner following some dangerous and skilful play down the right. The ball was played up to Livvo who held the ball up just outside the right corner of the penalty box, waited for Donovan to run behind him, and produced a delicious backheel pass to set the part-time jellyfish free. Unfortunately, Donovan slipped whilst attempting to cross and the ball clipped the heels of the defender and went off for a corner. Nothing happened from the corner.
A couple of minutes later Town should have scored. Someone flicked the ball into the penalty area to Allen, about 12 yards out, just to the left of the penalty spot, with his back to goal. Allen laid the ball to his left to the on-rushing (such a strange word to use when describing Livvo, perhaps on-moving would have been better) Livingstone who side footed a shot low to the 'keeper's left. It was saved well, but not uncomfortably, as it wasn't struck hard and was very close to the 'keeper. Wow - 5 minutes gone and Town attacking, passing and moving! Livvo had obviously just re-read the Tony Rees autobiography "Flick Off". Given half a chance Livvo was backheeling to anything in stripes. Huddersfield struggled to cope too (until Donovan tried to cross, we actually looked dangerous). Donovan was quite direct and was looking to take on his marker. It all looked promising.
The next 5 or so minutes were interesting too. Huddersfield, from their first attack after 7 minutes, nearly scored. Some slackness on the Town right allowed a striker to romp down the wing unmarked and unchallenged after a simple "channel ball". The ball was clipped into the near post, about 10 or 11 yards out, where Smith spun to his right and hit a firm drive low to Coyne's right. Coyne punched it away for a corner. Very good save from the marvellous man in melon. A few minutes later Coldicott managed to break away down the left, get into the penalty box, turn the right back, and get to about 8 yards out near the bye-line. He tried a left foot curling cross which was too high and too far in front of Allen and Donovan and went out for a goal kick. Just.
All this in less than 15 minutes. We were being spoiled. It couldn't last could it? It didn't, as Town spent the next 15 or so minutes kicking the ball high up to Bradley Allen, or aimlessly down the wings, Gallimore and Butterfield being the chief culprits. It was a little rotten and the crowd were remarkably patient compared to recent games. Huddersfield continued to threaten on the break, especially down the Town right, where their winger kept finding himself free behind Butterfield, and the midfield runners were not being "tracked" by the midfielders. Oh Donovan, where were thou? Smith caused some flutters in the Pontoon when, again, he turned at the near post and hit a hooked half volley low, but straight at Coyne. Again, again the word again, again. Town weren't learning. The chance came after a channel ball down the Town right, a midfielder ran on, turned and crossed to the near post. Again.
Huddersfield only had one more effort of note in the first half when one of their midfielders was left alone just outside the box and shot powerfully, but high over the bar. They had a few "moments of potential danger, possibly", such as a couple of long shots (one of which Coyne parried to his right, but it looked like it was going wide anyway), and a few balls dinked over the top which Coyne came off his line and caught. Oh and the usual couple of crosses that flashed across the face of goal.
Town did start to re-assert some pressure after a distinctly wobbly 15 minutes in the middle of the half. Most of it came down the right as Coldicott played in a position that is best described as slightly-to-the-left-but-not-much-midfielder. In short, we had no-one on the left. Campbell had a couple of decent efforts, though neither had any pace or power. Firstly, after some interplay involving Allen, Livvo and Coldicott, he shimmied to make some space about 20 yards out, near the right hand corner of the penalty box. His curling shot was easily caught low towards the near post. His second effort was on the other side, again about 20 yards out, this time a half volley which wobbled easily into Vaessen's midriff.
You're waiting for something aren't you? A goal! By us! After 27 minutes Town won the ball in midfield and the ball was rolled up to Donovan (by Butterfield, I think), who was fouled as he tried to turn, about 30 yards out on the centre right. The ball rolled on to Allen, who, with his back to goal, shielded the ball awaiting some movement. There wasn't much, so he turned to his right running across the face of the area and obviously looking to lay the ball wide to Gallimore or Coldicott. There was no-one there. He stopped turned round again and ran across the area towards the Town right. No-one over there either. So he tried a right foot shot. It looked as though he scuffed the shot as the ball seemed to roll slowly between 3 pairs of legs towards the 'keeper's right hand corner. Vaessen decided that this was the right moment to recreate Seaman's faux pas from last Saturday. He dived slowly, so slowly, to his right and the ball tumbled blindly as it made its way across the universe and into the net. Cue David Coleman - "1-0".
Mirth and merriment and joy abounded. And the new messiah hadn't even got on the pitch yet. Oh we were pleased. Oh did the Pontoon count it's chickens too. "You're going down with the Wednesday" struck up within a minute. Soon replaced by "Stand up if you hate soft cheese". I may have misheard this one. Substitute "Yorkies" for "soft cheese" and you may be nearer what they were singing. Maybe. The acoustics have always been dodgy in the Pontoon (not to mention the humour).
Action over. Half time. Not much else to report about the first half except the referee kept giving Huddersfield free kicks when Livvo challenged. Oddly no elbows were involved. Livvo's "crime" was to be jumped on by the centre backs. The shape of the team was not totally convincing. Pouton and Coldicott were quite clearly in the wrong positions, and played accordingly. Pouton was having a particularly invisible day, his only contributions being a couple of sturdy sliding tackles and a lot of aimless swipes at the ball (often ballooning it vertically). He almost had a shot, but , quite obviously remembered who he is and passed it. Coldicott was having a stinker, standing far too far infield. He didn't look happy playing there, and the crowd were certainly unhappy that he was there. He wasn't heckled, it was merely observed that he should have been in the centre.
Elsewhere in the team Campbell was having his most effective game at Blundell Park, best described as "busy". He made a few good forward runs, but was sometimes bullied off the ball by the sheer size of the opponents. Handyside brought some calm to the defence, especially with his distribution, but then we expect that from him, don't we. Gallimore was having some difficulties, principally because of the lack of cover when Huddersfield attacked. Although they seemed to concentrate on their left (the Town right) they eventually realised the gaps that had appeared on the Town left and, in the last 5 or 10 minutes were playing more and more to that side. Gallimore generally did ok, though he still has a tendency to delay his clearances so long they sometimes get charged down. A couple of such clearances almost set Huddersfield up for attacks. Luck and Handyside stopped that nonsense.
So happy half time cuppas. Anticipation was high for the introduction of the Golden Dude, who was cheered every time he ran up the touchline.
The report continues in the Second Half
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