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West Brom Report 2nd half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 30/10/2000

The half time toddlers match was a cracker, and such tiny toddlers they were. Almost Subbuteo sized, although the ball didn't reach up to their chins.

The winning goal was a brilliant long-range chip from 10 yards which went in off the underside of the cross bar. That goal got a standing ovation from the Pontoon.

No changes were made at half time by either team.

And the first 5 minutes were much like the first half, except West Brom were a little less positive, seemingly strolling around lethargically. Some would say they rather strutted arrogantly. After 5 minutes Butterfield fell over near the Pontoon/Main Stand corner. It appeared to be a delayed reaction to a jarring block tackle. He fell clutching his face and was stretchered off in some pain. That resulted in Donovan racing on (he did race, seeming extremely eager to get on that darn pitch). Immediately the Town play picked up some pace and direction. Donovan's first contribution was to be released halfway inside the West Brom half. He advanced on goal and flashed a cross shot from a narrowish angle, 10 yards out to the right of goal. Livvo trotted in beyond the far post and controlled the ball, turned in a great circle, looked up and chipped the ball over Allen past the far post. Livvo ain't no winger that's for sure.

Town simply overran West Brom from the moment Donovan appeared on the pitch. Coldicott destroyed affectively, Campbell increasingly threatened the Baggies with some strong surging runs from midfield, and all roads lead to Emperor Donovan on the right. West Brom didn't bother marking him, allowing the ex-Jellyfish to roam at will in the 10 yards either side of the half way line. Campbell, in particular, linked well with Donovan, releasing him many times for flying attacks down the wing. Oh the width, oh what joy. Donovan playing like we think he could, rather than the disinterested stroller of late.

Near the hour mark Town got a corner on the right (of course). Donovan floated it to the near post, where it was cleared out of the area, then lofted further upfield. Gallimore, in the centre circle, reached the ball before Hughes and lofted it back down the centre of the pitch. All the West Brom players ran out a la Arsenal, leaving Allen in the middle of the half and a bouncing ball in front of him. The mad 'keeper sprinted out of his goal and ALLEN lobbed the ball slowly over him. The ball gently bounced into the left hand corner with the 'keeper running after it, arms stretched like a cartoon villain. And cartoons are comedies, right? What is it about Bradley Allen goals - the 'keepers always end up looking silly. From the moment we saw Allen alone with that bouncing ball there was no doubt it would be a goal. It was a replica of his first goal for Town in a friendly against Lincoln. Of course, the crowd went wild.

A few minutes later Donovan clipped a low outswinging corner from the Town right to Groves, about 8 yards out at the near post. His firm glancing header was held under the bar by the Giant Haystack in goal.

Albion's response was to have a break down the Town right, where they crossed to the near post. Hughes headed comfortably into the middle of Offa's Dyke. The rest of the half was all Town (except the last 5 or 6 minutes, but who cares about that, eh?). After a corner on Town's left McDermott hooked a cross shot past from wide on the right a couple of feet high and wide of the left hand post. A super little move (quoting Ray Wilkins) involving Campbell and Allen resulted in flicking the ball over his head past the defenders to Nielsen, about 15 yards out, just to the right of the West Brom box. Nielsen being Mr Fantashtic saw only one thing - a brilliant right foot volley into the top right hand corner of the net. The ball went vertically and landed in the front row of the Pontoon. The Pontoon laughed and Nielsen smiled, winningly, which was apt as that was what Town were about to do.

Nielsen was only finding his range, the swirling wind was obviously playing havoc with his finely tuned eye-foot co-ordination. His next effort was nearer the goal. He was played in on the West Brom left, surged into the area and really hammered a right foot drive to the 'keeper's left which was parried spectacularly by ….. me in Row P of the Pontoon. Getting closer Mr N.

After more Donovan raiding down the right Town got the second they deserved with about 6 or 7 minutes left. Donovan dribbled past a couple of defenders on a mazy run down the right. He reached the bye-line, about 10 yards out, and clipped a low cross to the near post. NIELSEN, about 10 yards out, swivelled and hit a searing right foot volley just inside the 'keeper's near post. The 'keeper didn't move, Nielsen didn't move in celebration, but the whole ground erupted (apart from the 500 or so deflated Baggies who started to mooch off). Wow, such power. Town don't score goals like that, do they? And Nielsen milked the crowd for all the love they could give, not an ounce was left when he finally gave his trademark punch and growl. The game was won now.

There had been some substitutions made around the 80th minute, with Taylor coming on for West Brom (with them having three centre forwards on) and Raven (replacing Allen) being sent on by Lennie a couple of minutes before the Nielsen stunner (with Town reverting to 5-3-2). Apart from a free header by Jordao from a corner, which he managed to send well over the bar, and a couple of long shots by Sneekes which lacked power (shouldn't have cut your hair mate) West Brom did nothing else in the second half.

Livvo spent a couple of second wasting time in the Pontoon/Main Stand corner, as did Donovan and Nielsen (who was kicked up the backside by Van Blerk after a free kick had been given to West Brom), then that was it…. Over. Three points. Lennie's luck continues. An injury to Butterfield made him make the change we could all see was required - Donovan on to give some width and attacking potential. And did Town take advantage. It was very similar to the QPR game - a poor first half performance, where Town could have been a couple down by half time. In the second half Town simply over-ran the opposition with speed and aggression down the right (Donovan speed? Aggression? I don't believe it! Well the evidence was there for all to see today, live and exclusive too). Donovan only reverted to type in the 89th minute, when the game had already been won, with a jellyfish moment, just to remind us what we were "missing".

Plaudits go to everyone involved in the second half, there wasn't a bad performance in the second 45 minutes. Some familiar frailties were exposed in the first half, but Coyne, as is becoming usual, was unbeatable. Nothing too spectacular today, just great positioning and anticipation - as he made two or three very well timed rushes off his line to intercept through balls. His kicking is still rotten though. Campbell has started to fit in well as a scuffler and very useful carrier of the ball. Coldicott blocked well (using his bottom a couple of times as he threw himself across attempted shots), if only he wouldn't get excited and believe he has Burnett-esque passing skills. Gallimore was extremely safe at left back, no charged down hacks up the line today. He was competence personified, with a very crucial clearance in the first half.

The referee seemed to be very erratic, with many decisions that were just plain wrong (he didn't seem to believe that forwards ever ducked or backed into centre backs). The Pontoon did like it when he gave a goal kick after a shot had ballooned off a Town players bottom. He booked Livvo and the big bruising centre back for an "off the ball "incident that only the linesman saw. What? Livvo, fouling? Surely not! As I overheard someone say "Livvo was booked for a minor fricassee off the ball". What a beautiful image that conveys.

So here we all are. Happy as can be. Mid-table obscurity is tantalisingly close. Our new found attacking boldness is confusing our opponents, let's hope they are slow learners. All is well at Planet Blundell, passion, goals, excitement. Still no crowds though.

NickO's man of the match - difficult one, as no outstanding performer for 90 minutes. Campbell was solid and important, Donovan changed the game. So I'll say Coyne for his saves when Wets Bum were on top.

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