League Two Table
Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
By: Tony Butcher
The day was described as crisp and sunny by a local-ish resident, though the stiff breeze which bellowed through an open corner and down the pitch was mild. So a pleasant spring day by the winsome Wensum. Given Town's record at Carrow Road it would be better described as the losesome Wensum.
"Spinning Gold into Straw"
Norwich City 2 Grimsby Town 1
31 Mar 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
Around 300 -350 Town supporters gathered together in the corner of the old rickety stand (to the bottom right as seen on television) in unexpectant mood. There was some too-ing and fro-ing in the crowd as we sought out the perfect position from which to view the match. There seemed to be roughly 9 seats from which it was possible to see both goals without a huge metal post obscuring the view. And if you could see the goals you couldn't see half the penalty area. Of course, to the discerning and experienced Town supporter a view with the goals obliterated may be a prime spot - what do you want to see the goal-mouth for? Should a Grimsby supporter complain about obscured views? Copper, kettle, black, perhaps.
The team warmed up in the usual manner, but with an unusual understudy 'keeper. Big Mo filled the goal and proved unbeatable in the pre-match kick-about. Parries to the left of him, punches to the right of him. Not one Town striker could get the ball past him. Yes, he looks that good! Mmmmm perhaps there is a flaw in that argument? Anyway, he's big.
Town lined up, in the red kit, in a 4-4-2 formation. Everyone played where you'd expect, no (official) Donovanian hole this week. The absence of Handyside was noted and provoked mumbles. Especially given Enhua's knee injury.
Norwich kicked off towards the end nearest the Town supporters (so that's the right as seen from your armchair). They lined up to kick the ball in the air towards Roberts, and did so. Town got the ball and attacked through the midfield on the right; passing, some movement and some verve. Donovan was sent free against the full back, his cross was half blocked and cleared to Pouton, 25 yards out, just to the right of centre. The ball bounced high as Pouton ran forward and he twice chested the ball forward, bundling past a couple of defenders and advancing deep into the penalty area. He attempted to cross to the near post and the ball was eventually scrambled away on the 6 yard line. Now this was odd. Town rather bossed the next couple of minutes too. So far so good. Then Norwich cleared the ball down the Town right and won a corner after Groves crunched the ball out in tackling Rumpelstiltskin, or Peschisolido to yellow clad viewers.
The corner was curled past the far post and Pouton (I think) headed the ball out for another corner, this time on the Norwich right. The right winger, Forbes, was seen standing alone 25 yards out. Fortunately, Norwich tried to whip a low ball into the near post. Unfortunately for Town, the corner was miss-hit and the clearance was scuffed straight to the unmarked Forbes. He controlled the ball and tried a low cross shot. As everyone ran out it hit someone (I couldn't tell who, or from which team) near the penalty spot and squirmed out sideways. Directly to Roberts, about 12 yards out, to the left of goal. ROBERTS (left) turned and steered the ball across Coyne and into the net off the bottom of the right hand post. Silence in our little corner. The Norwich supporters woke up and began the expected singing. Which got the expected response. It took 6 minutes for Town supporters to claim that they had micturated on all piscine purchases made by Norfolkians today.
And Norwich did not have another attempt on goal for 20 minutes. Not even a wild scuffed shot. Not even a tame header from 15 yards that went 10 feet high and 10 yards wide. Nothing. They got into the Town penalty area perhaps twice. The game was down the Norwich end, right in front of the Town supporters, rarely more than 40 yards from their goal. Not that Town were peppering the goal either. Heaven forbid that Town would be so vulgar and disrespectful to such generous hosts. So generous they absolutely insisted that a Town player should have the ball. It is rare to see a team make a virtue out of passing the ball to the opposition, especially with such short passes. They actually looked up, spotted the man to pass to (normally 5 yards away and looking like Donovan) and duly passed to him. That's Donovan. Our Donovan. He saw an awful lot of the ball, and had an awful amount of space. And he was awful. In the first half 3 crosses hit the backside of the defender, one went feebly to a defender at the near post and 2 crosses went sailing gently into the 'keeper's hands. He was continually set up by McDermott and Pouton, and continually failed to either beat his man or pass to anyone in red. Oooh he did annoy us.
I haven't mentioned Cornwall yet. He was terrible in the first half. Lacked pace, lack skill and lacked will. He did one decent turn on the left edge of the area which got Town a throw in. He runs weirdly, as was later remarked by Swin; Cornwall seems to have too many limbs, my dear Mozart. After about 20 minutes Town got round to shooting. Campbell intercepted a loose clearance about 35 yards out, advanced 5 yards and smacked a dipping, curling right footed half volley from a slightly right of centre position. The goalkeeper had difficulty, flailing his arms and parrying the ball away to his right as the ball wobbled towards the top right corner of the goal.
Just past the half hour Groves intercepted a forward pass, advanced into the Norwich half and dinked a delicate pass into the Norwich penalty area, towards the right corner. The ball floated over the first centre back onto Jeffrey's chest. He held the ball up as Donovan surged past him. Jeffrey then made an superb goal saving tackle to dispossess Donovan as he was about to break through. Oh how the Norwich supporters laughed. Oh how the Town supporters sank below the seats hiding their heads in embarrassment. Oh how Jeffrey spun round, looked up, stood up and chipped a perfect cross towards Campbell, unmarked beyond the far post, about 8 yards out. CAMPBELL ran forward a few steps and powered a header low past the 'keeper into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Oh how the Town supporters laughed and jumped and laughed again.
This sparked Norwich back into life as they had their second attempt at goal straight from the restart. Someone headed a free kick over the bar from about 8 yards out. Usual stuff - ball chipped in and loads of bodies jump into the same space. We then had another 15 minutes of Town passing the ball around in midfield, with the occasional Norwich lump forward to Roberts. This brought a few moments of anxiety, not high anxiety though. Coyne had to rush off his line a couple of times to pick the ball off the feet of on-rushing strikers and we had to have one last Zhang Thang. A ball was played between Gallimore and Enhua, down the left "channel". Enhua stopped, raised his right hand and watched Roberts amble away into the penalty area. From a narrow angle, about 12 yards out, he tried to whack a shot high past Coyne into the top left corner. Coyne comfortably diverted the ball away for a corner. From the corner a defender headed about 2 feet over the angle of post and bar from about 6 yards out. Immediately after this it was half time.
As you can tell, not much happened. But Town had a heck of a lot more of the not much than Norwich, who were barely capable of passing to each other. Their only danger seemed to be when they hit the ball early to Roberts, who performed a like a bootleg John Hartson (he's slightly smaller, slightly older, slightly slower and slightly worse). Quite frankly Norwich's only hope was to get the ball to him to disrupt us - he was their Livvo. No higher praise, eh. Is higher the right word? Is praise?
Enhua was twice treated for injury after falling in challenges. He seemed to twist his knee. There was much amusement when Roberts was booked for kicking the ball away at a free kick. When McDermott was booked for doing the same we, quite rightly, berated the referee for his fussiness. Our spectacles are black and white, after all. Oh dear, I shouldn't use that word near Town should I - spectacles. They haven't provided one of those for months. Generally we couldn't complain about the referee, he was mildly Town-centric, spotting all those kicks and pushes by Norwich. The linesman on front of us was a different kettle of fish - his inconsistent approach to accuracy did not bode well for the second half.
Norwich were there to be beaten, even Town's powderpuff strikers could damage them. And as for their 'keeper - he couldn't kick and his positioning was woeful. Remember the own goal at Blundell Park? Twice in the first half he almost put himself in trouble with back-passes. A few inches to his right and the ball would have been past him and rolling, rolling, rolling into the goal. But no such outrageous luck today. Defensively Town were rarely troubled, with Groves in particular being a totem in the centre, and that's a fact. Gallimore was only skinned once, but still managed to wind up the Town support with his uncanny ability to hit the right winger's bottom with attempted clearances/passes. Three times in the first half, three times I tell you!
The half time entertainment was a schoolkid relay race (mixed sex) around the perimeter and 3 blokes trying to kick the ball against the crossbar from the edge of the area. They won a holiday if they succeeded. They didn't
Half time: Norwich 1 Grimsby Town 1
Stu's half time toilet talk
"The Canary Dwarf's done nothing".
The report continues in the second half
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