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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
17/02 Burnley 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
Grimsby Town 1 Burnley 0
17 Feb 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
Moore easily turned inside, then outside, Enhua on the Town left, deep inside the penalty area near the touchline. Enhua fell over and Moore turned to find acres of space in front of him. He ambled towards goal and curled a gentle cross to the far post. Big Steve Davis trundled in with no Town player within light years of him. He calmly leapt and, from about two yards out, headed over the bar. It was a fantastic miss. You could almost see him crying at missing. The goal could hardly have been more open. I shall treasure that moment should Town fail to get relegated this year.
So Town went straight up the other end and nearly scored. Enhua drilled a superb, inch perfect 50 yard cross-field ball to Donovan's big toe on his right foot. Donovan attacked the full back (no, not literally) and got to the bye-line. He crossed toward the centre of goal, about 7 or 8 yards out. Livngstone headed firmly back towards the left hand side of the goal but the goal bound header hit the back of a defender. It bounced into a big space about 12 yards out, levellish with the 'keeper's left hand post. McDermott sprinted into the area and slashed a half volley just past the angle of post and bar, on the 'keeper's left.
For the next few minutes the game went from end to end, well really from one end of the Burnley half to the other. Town had the majority of the play and were rather slicing them apart down the right.
The half time team talk quite clearly included the instruction "pass it to Donovan", who at times appeared to be persona non passa in the first.
Jeffrey , Donovan and McDermott linked dangerously, even if no clear cut chances were created. The usual Town complaint - final pass rubbish and not enough blokes in the box.
After a period during which Town appeared to get fired up for every challenge, the ball broke loose following a Coldicott man-sized tackle. There was a break away, some pressure and the ball went out for a corner on the right.
Willems trotted over to take it and swung it hard and low to the far post.
ENHUA (pictured) was unmarked and at a narrow angle a few yards beyond the post. He headed down firmly and the ball bounced in, despite the flailing feet and arms trying to keep it out. Great corner, well taken header and just about deserved at this point, for Town had surged back and were starting to impose themselves in midfield. The catalyst for the momentum that led to the goal was a double crunch from Coldicott, who won two 30-70 tackles - he was the 30 in both cases. Willems was not far behind in the hard man stakes.
A couple of minutes later Jeffrey sprinted on to a "channel ball" down the left, held off his marker and back-heeled the ball into a big space for Campbell to run on to. Campbell cut inside and tried to curl a shot past the 'keeper, which he held on his 6 yard line as Donovan and Livingstone bore down on him.
From now on it was all Burnley. They decided on one tactic to save the game - "Hang 'Em High". The ball was pumped forward into the box with bodies flying forward. They abandoned their ultra cautious 5-4-1, bringing on three forwards in the remaining 35 minutes. Just after Town scored, Enhua produced a simply great recovery tackle - he again appeared from nowhere - to rob Moore just as he was about to shoot having being sent free behind the Town defence with just Coyne to beat. There were a couple more last ditch saving tackles from Enhua and D Smith on Moore as Burnley tried to attack Town's weak left. Only today it wasn't weak. So effective had D Smith been against Little (their attacking inspiration normally) that Little switched to the left and tried his luck with McDermott. Silly Burnley, do they know nothing?
During the last 20 minutes the game was played 100 yards away from me. And Town were very fortunate to keep the ball out of the net. A couple of linesman's decision went Town's way, which infuriated the Burnley supporters and players. Mullin was booked for protesting too much and was promptly taken off, the linesman raised his flag several seconds after Mullin had broken clear and just as he passed to another striker for a one-on-one with Coyne. The linesman signaled that Mullin hadn't been offside but the player he passed to had been and was not interfering with play. It was quite clear that the linesman was saying this even from 100 yards away.
And then there were the scares, the big, big scares. One of the substitutes whipped in a cross from the Burnley left to the far post. Davis (left) rose above a bundle of players and, from about 5 yards out, glanced a header a few inches wide of Coyne's left hand post. Some frantic play on the edge of the Town area (a couple of up and unders, flying challenges and toe pokes) saw the ball roll between the outward rushing Town defence and Coyne. Moore ran on and lifted the ball over Coyne. It was a bit confused down at the Osmond End, the ball seemed to be rolling towards the goal with loads of players running after it. Anyway, what I can be certain of is that between McDermott and, finally, Enhua the Town defence managed to scramble the ball away.
With about 10 minutes left Butterfield replaced Campbell in a straight swap, though we did notice that Livingstone had already sunk back to be a third centre back. This meant that the pressure increased on Town as the tireless one up front was outnumbered and received little support (normally Willems). Whenever Town cleared it just went to a Burnley player on the half way line who lobbed it back. At about the same time Livvo lumbered back, Davis stayed up front permanently and Payton had already come on. So Burnley ended up with a 3-3-4 formation, although in the desperate mess this sometimes became 2-1-7. Coyne was required to do two brilliant rush and grabs at the feet of on-rushing strikers. One came from a rebound and toe poke through the defence, the other after a break down the Town left and Moore wriggled past Groves. Just as he was about to shoot, Coyne sprinted off his line and blocked.
It was almost like a cup tie, with the Town support roaring them on to every saving tackle and the Burnley supporters imploring the equaliser. With their increasing desperation, gaps were left for Town to exploit on the breakaway. Jeffrey sprinted down the right and curled a cross just too far in front of Donovan at the near post. With a few minutes remaining Rowan replaced Jeffrey and had the game's last chance. A clearance bounced in to a huge space just inside the Burnley half. Rowan ran on and took the ball into the penalty area, waited for the 'keeper and poked the ball a few inches wide of the right hand post from a few yards out on the left. In truth he should have rolled the ball sideways to Willems who had steamed up into the area and was unmarked in the centre. Willems quite clearly told him this.
After a few more hoiks into the box, Rennie eventually put us out of our misery. If the first half had been rotten the second was a cracker, in terms of passion, commitment and sheer bloody-minded defending from Town. There were many individually fine performances and a couple of super ones. Only Livingstone had a poor game (and even then he did perform well in defence in the last 15 minutes). The defence looked more of a unit today, with Enhua eradicating his penchant for waving. Jeffrey was tireless Mike today, even if he didn't particularly look threatening himself, his work produced openings for others. D Smith saw off a dangerous winger and looked quite solid. Coldicott was in full destroyer mode, and was exactly what was required against a big bruising team like Burnley. Willems had a wayward opening 20 minutes but got better and better as the game progressed.
It wasn't a pretty game, partly down to the poor state of the pitch, partly to the way Burnley play. But Town didn't give in and did what was required. Can't ask for more, can we?
Burnley had the opportunities to scores 4 or 5, and probably should, but they didn't. You won't find a Grimsby fan who cares about that, will you. Burnley were a big team, but they weren't in shape.
Nick0's Man of the Match. Difficult. Enhua - a couple of dodgy moments outweighed by the excellence of his saving tackles and goal. Without him we would have conceded at least one goal, and probably wouldn't have scored.
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