League Two Table
Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Richard Lord
We might not have realised it at the time, but perhaps the most entertaining event of the evening was to be Mighty Mariner's pre-match close ball control and trickery in the box before slotting the ball into the Wycombe net past a keeper that was never really there.
As the fans filtered into the ground, they were left to stare in amazement as Mighty milked the applause from the travelling Wycombe fans, of which there were about 250. As the players warmed up, the main stand looked half filled, as did the upper Smiths but as always the lower Smiths looked nearly full, and the Pontoon just under two-thirds full.
The players entered the field on what was to be a momentous occasion in the recent history of GTFC. Although fit and well, Paul Groves did not feature in the starting eleven. Danny Coyne continued in goal with a back four of Butterfield, Handyside, Richard Smith and Gallimore, lining up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Across midfield was Donovan, returning wide right with Willems and Coldicott in their ball-winning roles and Campbell tucking in on the left. The front two partnership for the match was Livingstone and Jeffrey, the Nogan of the twenty-first century.
The game kicked off with Town shooting towards the Osmond end. The first hoof by a Wycombe player was timed at 1 minute 26 seconds, although both teams failed to make an impression in the first few minutes.
On four minutes Wycombe got away down the left, the first move to get behind Butterfield at right back. The cross was dangerous, but Rammel was doing his fair share of pushing at the far post and the free kick was given.
This was the first, and possibly the last decision to go Town's way in the first half. It was clear from the start that the referee was one of those who gave free kicks for players merely looking at each other - oh if only we still had Lester, he would have a field day!
Three minutes later Wycombe found their way down the right, this time through Bullman, who was a subject of heated half-time discussion. None of us were sure if he was playing as a wing-back, a midfielder or an attacking role. He was just one of those players who seemed to be everywhere. He won a free kick, which was whipped in dangerously, the slightest touch from any player would have signalled the opening goal. Instead, it drifted harmlessly wide.
Just after 10 minutes Livingstone found his way through the Wycombe defence, but his volley was straight at Taylor, and he parried the danger away. Town were growing in confidence, and a couple of minutes later Campbell attempted a long-range volley but Taylor held comfortably. The Mariners were now starting to control the game and dictate the run of play.
On 16 minutes, even Gallimore ventured forward, resulting in him having a go at goal. The lay-off was good, but from fully 25 yards his shot skewed off the outside of his left boot and just flew into the stand, possibly reaching the back of it. Then on 22 minutes, the referee made the first of a string of bad decisions. Willems went in for a 50/50 challenge and seemed to push the ball away from the Wycombe player, who fell in such a fashion that even our own Jellyfish would have been proud of.
Just a minute later (coincidentally after one of their many long-balls on the night was dealt with by Handyside) the ball was played through for Donovan to race on to. He burst into the area but seemed to slant and then fall before lifting his effort over the angle of the goal. It should have been the opening goal.
A couple of minutes later Willems received a yellow card after a high kick which unfortunately for him, missed the ball but connected with a Wycombe player. Now approached the time of Wycombe's opening goalâ€¦
A long ball (ahemâ€¦ahemâ€¦) was chased by Big Smudge and Baird, who tussled and tangled on their way with both seemingly fouling each other. The free kick was awarded in favour of the Chairboys, and from the resulting set-piece, the merest flick from any number of players (although it seems that McCARTHY claimed the goal) found the back of the net.
It was then a case of dÃ©jÃ vu as, after Town had lost possession from the centre, another long ball down the right was chased, and another Wycombe player fell over, for whatever reason I don't know. Again the referee went with the diving act and gave the free kick. This was in a wider position that from the kick which resulted in the opening goal. The ball was curled in at head height, and when the danger seemed to have been cleared SIMPSON adjusted himself superbly and finished expertly with a precise volley from 20 yards, just to the left of centre.
On 33 minutes Town went chasing the game but their cause wasn't helped by the fact that the referee was simply incapable of giving Town any free-kicks. Donovan raced through the heart of Wycombe's midfield and was brought to the ground, but amazingly the referee did nothing. Town had two corners towards the end of the half, but these never really tested Wycombe's solid defence, although it was breeched a minute before the break when a patient build up down the left resulted in Campbell's cross being chested off by Livingstone, putting JEFFREY through to slam the ball home from 8 yards on the volley.
There was even time for Town to level things in injury time, Donovan got behind the defence but squared it to the only blade of grass where there wasn't a Town player.
At the beginning of the second half, the Mariners made a substitution, the ineffective Willems was replaced by Burnett through Lennie Lawrence's obvious disappointment that Town were just not creative enough in midfield.
In the first minute Cousins and Taylor nearly let in Livingstone after the defender and keeper had forgotten how to communicate. A minute later came the most bizarre moment of the match. As the fans lost interest with the game, their attention was drawn to an inexplicable moment of madness when one Pontoonite seemed to make a 'Pingu' impression, through their utter dismay of the match.
A minute or so later, a long throw from in front of the lower Smiths found its way into the Wycombe box, where an almighty scramble took place. The bald head of Coldicott featured in this, and the result was an injured Vinnicombe sprawled on the goal line, and the ball cleared for a corner, which came to nothing.
Eight minutes into the second half Jeffrey made a run down the right, and near the corner flag won a free kick, earning the biggest applause of the game as the referee finally gave the right decision, with the added bonus that it was in Town's favour. Unfortunately Campbell's flighted cross was headed well wide by Smith coming up from the back.
During the second half it was worrying the amount of times McCarthy got above Livingstone and Jeffrey. At the other end, Smith was losing out to Rammell 90% of the time. On 55 minutes Gallimore lost interest on the half way line, and Bullman broke away. I believe it was his cross that found quite possibly Rammell's head, and Coyne tipped what looked like the third goal on to the post - another truly remarkable save to add to his collection this season.
From the corner Town broke away down the centre, it was then played out wide right where Rogers fouled Donovan. Rogers was promptly shown the yellow card, and Butterfield's free-kick for once found the head of a Town player, Livingstone, but again Taylor was comfortable.
Just after the hour Gallimore somehow contrived to lose possession once more and a promising move broke down again. From the breakaway Wycombe won a corner, which was headed out to the left of the area where Coldicott made a great tackle. Town tried to push out, but again Bullman who was now playing in a deep central defensive role, picked up the ball and drove forward and won yet another corner for the away side. The corner was swung in and controversially headed out of Coyne's hands by ROGERS, but we were never going to get the free kick off the referee.
Straight from the kick-off Town pressed forward, and Livingstone's lay-off to Campbell was hit wide. Immediately after that, Nielsen came on for Coldicott and Town went 4-3-3 with Campbell, Burnett and Donovan in midfield, along with Jeffrey, Nielsen and Livingstone up front. When Wycombe were yet again breaking away down the right near their own corner flag, Donovan fouled and through frustration kicked the ball against the advertisement boards. He was yellow-carded for his actions and that was the end of the match really.
Apart from perhaps when there was half a shout for handball in the area but we were really hoping for some miracle, [among those up with the best, like the ones that Jesus (allegedly) performed] to get a penalty off the referee. With 10 minutes to go, Cousins got booked and Handyside tried a shot from 25 yards out, but was once more comfortably held by Taylor. Donovan did however force a decent save from Taylor in the 81st minute after Jeffrey's set up. It all came about with a purposeful run by Campbell who carried the ball out of defence all night. As most of the corners did, it came to nothing.
It took less than a minute for Donovan to shoot once more, although this one was nowhere near threatening the Wycombe goal. One supporter in the Pontoon, who was obviously frustrated at Taylor in goal, attempted to through some McDonald's cartons at the keeper but only succeeded in hitting someone on the head in row B, which really did sum up the night. Pathetic.
McCarthy, Vinnicombe and Simpson all had a go at time wasting, but it wasn't really needed as we very rarely troubled the Wycombe defence. The Man of the Match vote simply has to go to Stuart Campbell, who ran his socks off all night. It seems that as his performances improve, the whole team's performances become worse. He and Donovan again were the creative engine in the Town team. Maybe Town should be looking at Bullman as their next potential signing as he had all the attributes lacking in the current Town team.
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