Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Tony Butcher
Cold, cold windless but clear. A pitch like Steve Austin (It's breaking up, it's breaking up) with a big white patch under the Stones/Smiths/Findus. The Osmond Stand was completely full, and the overflow seats in the open corner were half full too, which at least boosted the crowd.
Grimsby Town 0 Barnsley 2
03 Mar 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
Since when has Barns-er-ley had three syllables? Where did that stray "er" come from?
The pre-match entertainment was confined to the programme - the player profile was on Staurt Campbell (sic). You really must read these things - his choices of dinner guest, they were bizarre in the extreme. At least one person was moved to re-christen the managers column as "in the Electric Chair", though "in the Eclectic Chair" would be just as apposite.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. No surprises where everyone played.
Town kicked towards the Osmond Stand, so I presume they won the toss and let Barns-er-lee kick off. I can't remember and, frankly, it isn't that important. The first memorable event was after 3 or 4 minutes when Dyer outpaced Groves down the Town left, just inside the area, and whipped the ball across the face of the goal. No Barnsley player was in the area, so McDermott calmly walked the ball away.
I am now struggling to remember anything for the next 20 minutes. Barnsley tried to play a continental short passing game, which enabled them to make lots of passes in their own half. They eventually gave the ball back to Town when they succumbed to temptation and dinked the ball over the top for Dyer to chase. Lots of offsides, goal-kicks and passes back to Coyne. Really thrilling. Town, on the other hand, were occasionally dynamic through midfield, with Willems having a stormer. He ran the game and made Burnett a virtual passenger.
Willems was everywhere, tough tackling, spraying 40 yard inch perfect passes to the wings, and rushing up to support the front players. He was even the player chasing the goalkeeper when Tubby Miller tried to fly kick (at which he was often sub-Crichtonian in his ineptness).
This left Burnett standing in midfield as the defensive holding player and, consequently, Burnett didn't do much at all, apart from one excellent forward run after about 15 minutes.
He sprinted into a space on the centre right of the Barnsley area and Groves passed a little too slowly and to his wrong side, which allowed a centre half to trundle over and block.
After 24 minutes Something nearly happened. A Town corner from the left was curled in by Campbell to towards the far post. Enhua headed firmly back across goal to the 'keeper's right hand post and the ball was wellied away from the line. Barnsley broke away and Shipperley glanced a back header a couple of yards wide of Coyne's right hand post, following a cross from the left. Coyne had it covered and there was no real danger, but it excited the Barnsley supporters. That was almost their first effort on goal, apart from a 35 yard free kick which was smashed to Coyne's left, and was caught comfortably. Town didn't bother forming a wall, allowing Coyne a clear view (and the kicker too, of course).
A couple of minutes later Barnsley attacked down the Town right. The play was on the edge of the icy white patch with McDermott and Burnett tucked "goalside" of the man with the ball. The Barnsley left back sprinted up the touchline. Donovan didn't. The ball was laid off to the full back, who took the ball into the huge space that was the Town right. He crossed to the centre of goal, and Enhua headed the ball out - straight to a Barnsley player on the right edge of the penalty area. After considering his options for several minutes, unhindered by monochrome men,(and, it was observed, with Donovan still hiding in the shade) he crossed to the unmarked DYER, about 7 or 8 yards out, just to the left of centre. He calmly nodded the ball low to Coyne's right, with Coyne a little flat footed. Silence in the Pontoon. Coyne went bananas at the defence, but they all turned their backs and walked up the pitch. The silence was a resigned "that's it".
The Town response was more of the same - some interesting and occasionally semi-dangerous passing moves to the edge of the Barnsley box, then nothing. Rowan and Jeffrey were, well, Rowan and Jeffrey. They both ran around a lot and fell over when a Barnsley player breathed on them. Town weren't totally poor, just lacking in the box - déjà vu? Willems had a shot from 25 yards which hit the top of the Osmond Stand. This followed some passing and moving on the left. Nothing else got through, shots were charged down or players eased away from the goal. Donovan was an ephemeral presence, like a butterfly fluttering occasionally, but achieving nothing memorable. In the last quarter of an hour of the first half there were, essentially, two more chances. The first went to Barnsley. Dyer out-paced Enhua in the space between Gallimore and Enhua down the left, The ball had been chipped over the top and, of course, Enhua had lost a fraction of a second by raising his hand appealing for offside. Dyer sprinted in to the area and, about 10 or 11 yards out, just to the left of goal drilled a low shot across Coyne, who stuck out his right boot and deflected the ball wide of the goal.
Town's chance. And a what a chance it was. Some interplay down the Town right involving McDermott, Burnett and Donovan (and possibly Rowan) resulted in the ball being knocked over the left back for McDermott to continue his forward surge. McDermott crossed first time with a deep cross arcing to the centre of the goal, about 6 or 7 yards out, straight to a totally unmarked Town player. Jeffrey Nogan-ed it wide by a huge distance. He looked hesitant and fearful in approaching the ball, and never looked like scoring. No-one was surprised, people around me just shrugged.
The only other incident before half time was a minute or two's delay for treatment to Rowan after he was clattered from behind near the half way line. The half time whistle brought a few isolated, half hearted boos.
There is no other way to sum up this half than "Town never looked like scoring". Town were ok between the penalty areas, with Willems by far the best player on the pitch. Commitment, technique, everything required. Defensively Town looked vulnerable to Dyer's pace, but what's new? Gallimore had, ironically, added some solidity to the left side with some crunching tackles. He stood in the right places and tackled at the right times. Unfortunately, his distribution was still erratic with a return of last season's trick of kicking the ball against an opponent when trying to knock the ball down the touchline.
In terms of efforts on goal, Barnsley had 3 and Town had 3. Coyne had one save and Miller none. Some credit should be given to Barnsley though, they had obviously watched Town recently and planned for the new corner routines. Miller knew exactly where Willems corners would go and the Campbell corners from the right were equally well defended against. It's slightly depressing that Town were the team that would never score from a set piece, and now it's the only way. If anyone has bothered to watch us they can stop that easily enough too.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Barnsley 1
Stu's half time toilet talk"Donovan, Donovan, Donovan, Donovan, Donovan" (a bit like an incantation to purge those evil spirits). "Has anyone got a pin?" "We're never going to score. I might as well go home now". " I bet he takes Jeffrey off for that miss. Any excuse to put Donovan up front". "Handyside would have stopped that goal".
The report continues in the second half
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