Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
By: Tony Butcher
Wet, wet, sodden wet with an occasional blustering wind. The pitched was churned up before the game even started, especially below the Findus/Stones/Smiths stand. The mud was not glorious. Idle speculation centred on the effects the conditions would have on certain players.
"Cool Hand Luke and the 'Keeper Killer"
Grimsby Town 3 Tranmere Rovers 1
07 Apr 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
Generally there was still an air of gloom, though masked by some melancholy and rather desperate sounding vocal support. Oh and the biscuit tin re-emerged to drum up some noise. The Mighty Mariner continued its obsession with waggling it's bottom at the Pontoon and rubbing against the goalposts like an untrained puppy, or Daryl Clare to older readers. It should change it's act now it's a multimedia star.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.Pouton and Coldicott were both shaven headed, lending an air of menace to the centre of the pitch. Hey there, psychokillers.
Tranmere played in dark blue shirts and white shorts and also in a 4-4-2 formation. Fortunately they left Challinor on the bench and they had a big man, little man front two - gawky scrabbler Parkinson and N'Diaye, who was 6 foot tall and 6 foot wide. He probably still is 6 foot tall and 6 foot wide.
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon and within 30 seconds Coldicott slid through Koumas from behind, winning the ball fairly in the eyes of all Town supporters, especially those listening on radio. There was a bit of shoving and snarling and the referee booked both Coldicott and the alliterative and onomatopoeic Micky Mellon.
There was no goalmouth action, or anything particularly memorable in the first 5 minutes or so. Town seemed to have the ball all the time, but petered out on the edge of the box. Sounds familiar, doesn't it. After 7 minutes (I looked at the scoreboard to see the time as it was the first thing to happen) Town won a corner on the right. Donovan swung it over into the middle, high and hanging as usual. It was headed out, but it was played back to Donovan out on the right wing, about 20 yards out from goal. He clipped in a low cross towards the edge of the area, Handyside ducked and flicked the ball on, it bobbled around, hitting Clare on the knee in the centre of goal near the penalty spot. The ball rolled to Jeffrey, on the right edge of the 6 yard box and unmarked and turned slightly away from goal. The new Lee Nogan wafted his right boot at the ball and guided it a yard over the bar.
A couple of minutes later Tranmere had an attack, which was nice for them. They attacked at pace down the Town right and one of their little scufflers (probably Koumas - left, as he was by far their best player) cut in past three challenges. As he got towards the centre of goal, on the edge of the box, Coldicott slid across and sent the ball and man flying. Fantastic challenge which got the crowd roaring.
The game went into a bit of a dull patch for the next ten minutes or so, I can remember a couple of Koumas surges, a Pouton cross which went over Jeffrey straight to their 'keeper, and that's just about it. Quite a few offsides, especially Clare, who was slow witted today, reacting several days after passes, slips and collisions. A total waste of space.
On about 20ish minutes Town got us off our seats again, Pouton surged down the left, crossed to the far post where Donovan trapped the ball between both biceps, beat the defender and his shot was deflected away for a corner. Donovan was far too slow, needing a couple of touches and allowing three Tranmere defenders to rush over and block.
The corner merely enabled Tranmere to attack, as it was hung high to the middle, headed up in the air and whacked clear. They ran off down the Town left and one of their midfielders got behind Gallimore and dinked a low cross between Coyne and the back four. The ball rolled across the goal, past the far post and was knocked back in to the centre, being cleared for a corner.
The first corner was half cleared and resulted in some head tennis, the ball eventually being headed goalwards from about 12 yards out, to the left of goal. Coyne was forced to arc back and tip the ball over for an other corner. The second one, again from the Town right, was hit hard to the back post, where Coldicott stooped and somehow managed to head the ball just over the angle of post and bar. The third corner was whipped in from the other side and was headed firmly over the bar from the back of the penalty area.
Well it seemed Town had weathered that mini-storm, as the game dulled again. How wrong, we were. Approaching the half hour mark, which seems to be the witching half-hour for Town at home, Town counter-attacked down the right, with the ball arriving at Donovan's feet, on the touchline, near the end of the Main Stand. He flicked the ball in-field with the outside of his right boot, following through for the expected one-two with Clare. Clare didn't bother moving and the Tranmere defender intercepted, knocking the ball forward down the Town right. Groves challenged N'Diaye near the half way line but the ball remained with the Tranmere striker. Koumas ran forward from midfield in a sort of inside right position and the ball was played through the centre of the Town defence, on the ground. The defence pushed up for the offside and KOUMAS ran on alone to roll the ball under Coyne and into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area. Apart from 2-300 Tranmere supporters, the whole ground fell silent. No-one had the will to harangue or support. It felt like the inevitable; destiny; just plain typical Town. All the play, but concede a silly goal. Well that was it, we might as well have gone home there and then, there was no way Town would score, let alone score two. We were down, relegated at that moment. The world had ended, gloom, doom and wailing, teeth being gnashed, tears being cried, footballing obituaries being written, contracts being torn up.
Town responded with 5 minutes of deflated, flat, nervous football. Pouton got ratty with rat-faced Flynn and was booked. Pouton slid in and won a hefty tackle on the right touchline, just inside the Town half and a throw in was awarded to Tranmere. For some reason Flynn objected to Pouton sending the Tranmere player into the advertising hoarding with said challenge, so Pouton tossed some mud into his face, in a gesture of friendship and professional camaraderie. Flynn asked the teacher to "tell him, miss" and so Pouton was booked by the incredibly fussy referee. There were numerous stoppages in play for minor matters. He insisted on free kicks being in the right spot, the ball should be absolutely still and above all throw ins should be from exactly the spot the ball went out, not an inch either way.
The last quarter of an hour were all Town, I can't recall Tranmere getting a shot or header anywhere near the goal. I think Coyne had to come off his line once to collect a through ball, but he had nowt else to do. And Town peppered the Tranmere area with crosses, bodies were thrown forward towards the ball, towards anything that moved. And they never, ever looked like scoring, despite some golden opportunities.
The first infuriating miss came from Coldicott. A cross from the right to the back post ricocheted to Coldicott, about 9 yards out, just to the right of goal. Coldicott hesitated and tried to take the ball from his left to right. This only enabled the Tranmere defence (3 of them) to rush over and throw themselves at him. In the last 10 minutes of the half Clare had two opportunities and Coldicott one. Clare's first (which was admittedly offside) followed some head tennis in the area, the ball fell to him 7 yards out, unmarked to the right side of the goal. He turned and totally miss-kicked straight to the 'keeper. After 40 minutes Campbell slipped the ball to Clare, about 10 yards out and unmarked. He controlled the ball, switched the ball from left to right and tapped the ball against the on-rushing 'keeper's body.
A couple of minutes before half time Donovan skipped gaily down the right and chipped a hanging cross to the far post. Clare watched the ball sail just over his head and Campbell, about a yard beyond the far post and a couple of yards from the bye-line, headed back across goal to a Tranmere defender. In injury time Gallimore whacked a 25 yard free kick straight at the 'keeper.
And that was the first half. Fractious at times, bitty, scrappy, mostly Town, and Town losing. There were few positives, McDermott and Campbell were tireless in their running and support for the attack, if that be the right description of Jeffrey and Clare. Clare was appalling and Jeffrey was just Jeffrey, that really is the only way to describe his performance. It was his kind of game, the opposition had legs. The amount of bile directed towards Clare increased exponentially with every miss, every non-challenge, every miss-control. He was advised to seek future employment (and by future it was meant post 4 o'clock) in Cheltenham or Northampton. Or anywhere far away would do.
Pouton was just as bad, he barely played an accurate pass all half, putting Town in danger several times with Widdrington-esque defence splitting passes. The defence looked alright, apart from the goal, of course. There was obviously a conscious decision to play out of defence, as Coyne sought at first instance to pass the ball to Handyside. This set up some Town possession play, but the lack of movement up front negated any advantage this created. The pitch was muddy as heck and was not conducive to a ground based passing game. At 0-1 it was, of course, unplayable and the referee should have abandoned the game. Of course he should.
It was dispiriting, it was relegation, there was no discernible hope. The end was nigh.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Tranmere Rovers 1
Stu's half time toilet talk
Most of it is unprintable, and mostly aimed at Clare and Jeffrey.
The report continues in the second half
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