League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Tony Butcher
A still day with an inherent chill beside the Trent. Reliable sources indicate that Town warmed up in the usual manner, with Livingstone hopeless at shooting in the warm up, with Jeffrey deadly.
The Accidental Left Back
Nottingham Forest 3 Grimsby Town 1
24 Feb 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
There were probably between 5-600 Town supporters spread along the seats in the lower stand behind the goal to your right (as seen on TV). There were few spaces to be seen on the other three stands, but curiously, not much sound. The only thing they sang appeared to be a request to rise from the seat if you disliked Derby. And Yorkies. Whether this was a sympathetic chant for our psychological comfort, irony, or geographic ignorance I'll leave you to decide (my money is on the 2-1 shot - geographic ignorance).
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation as follows: - Coyne, McDermott, Enhua, Groves, D Smith, Donovan, Coldicott, Willems, Campbell, Livingstone and Jeffrey. The substitutes were Croudson, Handyside, Butterfield, Black and Rowan. In other words, the same 16 as at Bolton. So much for the definite plan to rotate the squad this week.
Forest had some suspicious hair on display, but nothing overtly dreadful. The centre back, Edwards, had lovely long flowing locks, but at least it was washed and combed. Probably uses L'Oreal, though I am not sure whether he is worth it.
Town kicked off away from the Town support and, incredibly, had a shot on target within a minute. A channel ball down the left to Jeffrey was passed inside, knocked towards Livvo and back to Coldicott who, from 20 yards right in the centre, hit a low shot straight at Beasant.
Nothing else happened for 5 minutes, when D Smith fell awkwardly when challenging near the half way line. After a couple of minutes Butterfield came on in a straight swap. Although it didn't seem like it at the time, this may have been the crucial moment of the game.
Nothing much happened for the next 10 minutes. It was scrappy, disjointed and quite wonderfully dull. Forest had a couple of awful long shots that went nowhere near the Town goal (or Town supporters) and a few crosses, which were easily headed away or caught by Mr D Coyne. Town had a couple of potentially exciting moments, which involved Donovan and Jeffrey down the right, but nothing tangible came of them. Of course, for a Town fan, an exciting moment is when we actually get inside the opposition penalty area. Potentially exciting is when a player gets to the edge of the box. A goal equates to delirium.
And delirium arrived quite unexpectedly after a quarter of an hour. Jeffrey set Livingstone free with (I think) an overhead kick down the right hand "channel". I say, "I think" because Jeffrey had two goes at setting Livvo free and I can't remember whether the overhead kick was the first or second attempt. Whatever, the ball went behind the Forest defence and (watch the television if you want proof) Livingstone outpaced the central defenders to stride on like a colossus into the penalty area, Livvo cunningly drew Beasant and a couple of defenders towards him by making them think he had let the ball get tangled between his legs. They actually though he had miss-controlled it. The ball was tapped sideways to CAMPBELL, somewhere near the penalty spot, who curled a right foot shot past Beasant into the bottom-ish left of the goal. Livvo outpacing the opposition defence? I thought I had seen everything, now I've seen an elephant fly. The Town supporters had stood up when they saw a Town player running at goal. They remained standing, but silent when they saw it was Livvo. When the ball rolled to Campbell, about 60% were starting to sit down again. A couple of seconds after the ball hit the net we finally made a noise. You could say we couldn't believe it.
A couple of minutes or so after the goal, Livvo became Limpo after another awkward challenge on the half way line. He limped off and was replaced by Rowan. Both injuries were as a result of twisting whilst tackling and the pitch may have been a contributory factor. It was terribly rutted with divots all over, like a bad Sunday League pitch. All the players had great difficulty turning and stopping, almost as though it was icy. It made playing the ball through midfield very difficult, which seemed to suit Forest more than us. They were more direct than you might expect, trying to utilise the pace of David Johnson. This just allowed Groves and McDermott to show their "experience". McDermott had a fantastic game, he hardly made any tackles. He just eased himself between man and ball, or leant into the opponent to gain an edge. A master class in how to defend, rather than tackle.
Butterfield (left) could have done with a few more hours studying those McDermott videos. If he has a sobriquet it must be "Jogging Danny B". He ambled about half way between where he should have been, and where he could have been. Neither marking man, nor keeping the defensive shape, he was a liability. Fortunately for Town, Forest didn't have the on-field nous to notice this in the first half. And Mr Enhua was very rocky. Within the first couple of minutes he stood motionless and waved for offside after a dink over the top down the Town left. His worst moment was half way through the half when he chased an aimless chip down the Town left and completely missed his attempt to hook the ball away, leaving Johnson to sprint off down the touch-line. The cross was eventually cleared, but it caused a heart flutter or two in the huddled masses behind the goal.
There wasn't that much action in the first half - Forest were so fantastically poor and disinterested that Coyne didn't make any saves. Towards the end of the half there were a couple of self induced moments of danger. The first one was a double clearance from near the goal line. In essence, the Town defending was far too relaxed. Enhua allowed the ball to bounce near and over him. Johnson hooked it back from the goal line, about 2 yards from the left hand post. The ball looped high and bounced between Enhua, Groves, Donovan and Coyne, with all of them standing around looking at peace with the world. McDermott scrambled the ball away from the goal as a couple of Forest players belatedly realised the Town defence had momentarily tuned in, turned on and dropped out. The second slackness was just before half time. A Forest player was left alone standing on the touchline and the ball was eventually whacked over to him. Butterfield jogged over and a pass was played behind Butterfield for a midfielder who had sprinted into the area unmarked. He crossed towards the near post and Johnson diverted the ball just past and over the angle of post and bar, from about 4 yards out.
They did nothing else, a couple more rubbish long shots and that was it. Their game plan was little more than hit and hope and that requires a willingness to chase. None of their players were willing.
Town, on the other hand, didn't do much either. I think Coldicott had a long range shot that sliced a fair distance wide to the right of goal. Willems belted in a free kick from 35 yards that was only slightly to the right of Beasant. Shades of Johnny Metgod, which brought a rumbling murmur from the Forest support when they realised this boy really could hit the ball hard. And then there was the best move of the first half. Some one-touch passing down the Town centre and right involving Donovan, McDermott Jeffrey and someone else (sorry can't remember who) saw the ball laid off to Campbell, just to the left of centre on the edge of the penalty are. He teed the ball up and hooked in a right foot shot which went between Rowan's legs and a few inches wide of Beasant's left hand post.
The rest of the first half was, in the words of the youth of today, pants. But curiously satisfying pants for some. Oh, and Forest made a substitution just before half time, bringing on a right winger, Edds
Generally Town were extremely comfortable and Forest never, ever looked like scoring. They weren't interested, their crowd weren't interested (booing their team off at half time was just about the only noise they made). Despite Enhua and Butterfield looking vulnerable, Town had defended quite solidly, Willems and Coldicott had run the midfield with a rod of iron (in both feet), Campbell was causing some offensive problems with his willingness to run at the defence, and Jeffrey was the (now) usual selfless runner. Donovan was invisible as an attacking force, but did make a couple of important tackles and "track backs" in defence, so he did at least contribute something. Coyne could have spent most of the half sat with us, for all he had to do. But when he was required to do something, he did it perfectly adequately. A run out to the edge of the area and punch away of a high bouncing cross was, in the circumstances, important and executed well.
So, leading at half time. Contentment mixed with a soupcon of anxiety - that gnawing fear that if there is a way to mess it up, Town'll find that way.
Stu's half time toilet talk
- a change this week. The only conversation I heard was between two stewards bemoaning Crewe supporters as "a bunch of nutters". So unless you want a boring anecdote from a steward you can have the "Stu's pre-match walking amongst the opposition supporters and listening" featurette. And here it is :-
Forest supporter 1 - "Is Jack Lester fit?"
Forest Supporter 2 - "No, but my mate saw him out dancing on Monday night"
I don't know where he was dancing, what he was dancing to, or whether he fell over the handbags, but the evidence before the Court is that Jack Lester was dancing on a Monday night (which is nearly a Paul Nicholas hit).
The half time entertainment was limited, to say the least. The tannoy played a song by a local band called "Fat Digestor" and 4 men with garden forks wandered on to the pitch to do that fork thing they do. I am sure they were digging in time to the music, those funky Forest forkmen. And their mascot came out - it had a fox's head and a Badger's snout, a strange mix. Then Mrs Forest Mascot came out. They looked like Forest had just hired the last two items in a down at heel local fancy dress shop.
The report continues in the second half
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