Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Tony Butcher
A bright, clear afternoon with no discernible wind. The pitch looked a bit sodden, which was borne out by the number of times the players (especially Handyside) slipped. The Town contingent numbered around 250-300, clustered together in the lower tier of the stand to the right as seen on TV.
Blackburn Rovers 2 Grimsby Town 0
21 Oct 2000, Nationwide League Division 1
The giant Jumbotron TV screen listed the teams, but as usual, there were errors. Coldicott was displayed as Caldicott, with both Butterfield and Livvo shown as wearing the same number. Standards must be slipping at the once mighty
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation Bizarrely, Butterfield played in central midfield with Coldicott, and Livvo played up front. The rest were where you'd expect them to be. Like last year, Town played in their full first team kit - none of this nonsense about changing kits because of clashing socks. The referee was Uriah Rennie's competent and fair "younger brother". I cannot recall him making a poor decision all game.
Blackburn kicked off towards the Town support and piddled about for a while. Nothing much happened in the first couple of minutes and the first action came about through inept play by their defence. The centre backs played the ball about to each other and, finally, Short, about 30 yards out, put his foot on the ball, thinking he was some kind of Handyside-esque playmaker. He stumbled and Nielsen immediately pounced and ran off with the ball towards the left corner of the penalty box. Nielsen scuffed a right-footed shot from about 16 yards and the ball rolled easily into Filan's midriff as he leant lazily to his right. The Dude should have done better.
There weren't many more Town efforts on goal in the first half, so I might as well reel them off now. After about 15 minutes, Nielsen received the ball about 10 yards inside the Blackburn half, on the right. He turned and ran at the defence, beating a couple of players, ran into a couple more, checked back, turned again, rode a couple of wrestling challenges, took on the right back, beat him and ran into the area. He crossed from the bye-line and it was hacked away at the near post by a couple of Blackburn defenders. It was a replica of his first "Town moment", I suppose it was a "Nielsen moment", which we will all be looking forward to. About 5 minutes later, he did it again; breaking into the area on the Town right and crossing to the near post, this time it was hacked away for a corner. The only other time Town threatened was when another move down the right (this time involving Coldicott and Donovan with some that old style religion, one touch passing and movement) resulted in a cross to the far post. It was half cleared and the ball was worked back to Livvo about 20 yards out to the left of goal. His attempted half volley deflected off a defender and looped straight to Filan.
During the middle of the half, Town played some decent possession football which saw Blackburn's defence exposed on the flanks a few times. Unfortunately, they managed block crosses for corners or intercept at the near post. It will take me rather longer to describe what happened at the other end. Blackburn caused Town a lot of problems with a lot of running from midfielders past their strikers. Town were stretched on numerous occasions and Groves, in particular, was having an extremely difficult afternoon, rarely getting the better of Ostenstad. Their first chance came in the first 10 minutes after they retained possession on the Town left and drew the Town defence across. The ball, of course, was swiftly moved to the right, with their left back driving into the penalty area. He attempted a cross shot from near the corner of the area, which hit Groves and dropped into a big space about 12 yards out, just to the right of goal. Hignett smashed a first time drive across Coyne towards the left side of the goal. Coyne flung himself full length across to his left and parried the ball away. Brilliant save No.1.
More pressure was put on Town as the game retreated closer and closer to Coyne's goal. The next chance fell to Ostenstad, who received a high dinked pass about 15 yards out on the right of the penalty area. He turned and barged his way past Groves and McDermott, getting in a low hard shot to the near post. Coyne spread himself to his right and punched the ball aside. Good save, though one he should have made. Blackburn started to win lots of corners which, of course, Town struggled to clear. Most were sent to the far post towards Short and Berg, with most resulting in miscued headers or "nick of time" glancing headers from the Town defence. McDermott had to clear at least one off the line, following a scramble at the far post. I think this was very close to half time.
Coyne had to make several more superb stops. He nearly ruined one of these - Blackburn retained possession on the Town left and a little "channel ball" between Gallimore and Groves released someone to the bye-line. He (whoever he was) pulled the ball back to somewhere beyond the penalty spot at the far post. Another one of their expensive, but curiously anonymous midfielders, ran in and tried to side foot a precise shot into the top left hand corner. Coyne leapt, yet again, to his left and caught the ball whilst horizontal, dropped it but managed to fall on the ball as he landed.
There's more. Yet again, Blackburn attacked in numbers on the Town left, a ball was returned to a player about 25 yards out near the corner of the penalty box. He sent in a low, curling cross towards the near post. Several players ran into the six yard box, Ostenstad got in front of Groves, swung a boot, missed and the ball deflected off his knee. Coyne sort of spread himself and the ball hit his legs and was scrambled away to the left of goal. And there's still more from our heroic "Custardian". For the umpteenth time, Blackburn had players unmarked near the edge of the penalty box on the left. Someone hit a low drive through a crowd of players, to Coyne's right. Coyne did not appear to see the ball until very late, but still managed to divert the ball past the right hand post with his right foot. It was a blinding reaction stop. Brilliant save No. 2.
I know what you're thinking "Did he save six shots or only five.." To tell you the truth I forgot myself in all that excitement. Town were feeling lucky.
These were all Coyne's most show stopping saves, he also had to do the usual blocks and stops and scrambles, mainly in the six yard box near both posts. As you can probably tell, the first half was Blackburn against Coyne, with other mucking in occasionally. Only Handyside of the back four was getting the better of his opponent, Hignett, who was peripheral to the action. Gallimore and Groves were having torrid times. Gallimore, for the sheer number of opponents he had to cope with (it was as if they had decided he was the weak link), and Groves because Ostenstad was higher, stronger and faster.
As regards other action, well Livvo went off for a couple of minutes after being laid out in a clash of heads with Berg - Livvo now knows what it's like to be "Livvo'd". That's it, nothing else. Town were not always inept, just often. Most of Town's possession was wasted with aimless long balls, the worst culprits being Groves, Gallimore and Butterfield. What pressure Town did apply came about through the application of some basic Town principles - passing along the grounds. There were moments of hope with D Smith and Donovan occasionally attacking the full backs and, when Town did pass the ball to each other, Blackburn were a bit jittery. Of all the Town players, Butterfield was the worst and looked like a little boy lost. He was far too slow in mind and foot and rarely near the ball. His first contribution to the game sums up his performance - with the ball bouncing on the edge of the area, he dillied and dallied (and lost his way and didn't know where to roam), allowing a Blackburn player to nip in and shoot. Fortunately, it hit someone's back and went over.
Town were very lucky to be equal at halt time, without Coyne's outstanding performance they would have been four down at least. If changes were to be made (and they should have been) at half time, Butterfield had to come off. Town were like a team with a player short, as opposed to a team with short players.
Half time: Blackburn 0 Grimsby Town 0
The report continues in the 2nd half
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