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Passing the Night Away: Lincoln Report
By: Tony Butcher
A WARM summer evening in the temporary cauldron of hate (for one night only, tickets Â£10). Lincoln supporters filled the central section of the Osmond Stand, with most of the rest of the ground full.
Grimsby Town 2 Lincoln City 1
22 Aug 2001, Worthington Cup 1st Round
The atmosphere before the game was a little odd, like a "big" pre-season friendly, with most of the crowd seemingly there for one purpose - Buckley baiting. Typical Grimsby, they couldnâ€™t even organise the ritual booing, it was more of a resigned moan. The programme (self styled official matchday magazine) listed Lincolnâ€™s manager as Dario Gradi. Conspiracy or Incompetence? You, the jury, decide. My money is usually on Dave Gilbert (a la Roly Godfrey 1992), but on this occasion Iâ€™d plump for incompetence, it fits so easily, doesnâ€™t it.
The Town players warmed up for the game with a continental routine of light jogs, stretches and jumps, Lincoln did it the old way. Or rather our old way. They did a lot of things our old way. To confuse the supporters even more the Town players wore training tops with different numbers from that on their shorts. Stacy Coldicott now has curly blond hair! Oh no, thatâ€™s David Morgan. Who?
Town lined up in the usual 4-4-2 formation with bags of experience! Chapman partnered Groves at centre back, thus enabling Town to boast the smallest centre back ever, at 4 foot 6. He seemed a foot smaller than the man he marked (Thorpe). Well at least we knew that Lincoln wouldnâ€™t bomb us with route on football, oh no. Butterfield was again the midfield playmaker and to the dismay of 5,000 people, Jeffrey partnered Jevons. There was the hint of a boo when Jeffreyâ€™s was announced, the portents were not good for Iron Mike.
Lincoln won the toss and Town kicked off towards the Pontoon. Town started in a trot and soon calmed down to an amble. Witless, shapeless, uninterested hoofers.
The first half was an appalling "performance" from Town. It took 10 minutes before Town strung more than 2 passes together, and 39 before they had anything that could be described as a shot. From the start Lincoln played like a, well, Town at any time during the last decade (excluding the Laws era). Now that surprised you, didnâ€™t it? It seemed to shock the Town players, who appeared to believe they only had to stand on the green green grass of home to win.
There are very few incidents to report from the 1st half, Lincoln had the ball most of the time and they passed it beautifully. Town players stood around and allowed terrifying men of strength and pace, such as Kingsley Black, to do as they wished.
The game was a series of pretty yellow patterns down at the Osmond End, occasionally broken up with a welly upfield from the dark destroyers in the Town defence. In the first 10 minutes Pouton did wander across from right wing to an inside left position, receiving a pass from Campbell or Butterfield (sorry, I was bored and half the Town team look the same). He turned, alone, in oceans of space, an yet again tried to do something outrageous with the outside of his right boot.
I was as outraged as the rest of the Pontoon by the pathetic dinky cross that sailed over and wide. The goalkeeper barely bothering to watch it drift hopelessly away from goal. Maybe one day Pouton will do something really outrageous, like use his left foot. And that was all Town did for 30 minutes.
Lincoln, on the other hand, kept the ball, played neat little "triangles", gradually working the ball across the pitch and down the flanks, exposing the full backs. Actually thatâ€™s in the singular, not the plural. Buckley isnâ€™t daft - he didnâ€™t make his prima ballerina take on McDermott, he put Black against Gallimore. Youâ€™d have thought even Tony Ten Pints would be able to snuff out the threat from our pirouetting former reserve. Wrong. Gallimore was seemingly terrified by Blackâ€™s pace, retreating whenever Black "ran" at him, allowing Black to chip in two or three dangerous crosses. They all went through the centre of the penalty area with no-one quite near enough to head them in. So Town, eh?
I canâ€™t remember them having any shots of any note, certainly Coyne didnâ€™t have to perform heroics, or even hum-drum stops. The crowd started to heckle Jeffrey, blaming him for all ills. Just what has he contributed to the Macedonian peace talks? Nothing. It was a little unfair, in that he was trying so hard, always running, making space. However, he played appallingly, absolutely nothing he did contributed to our well being, mental or physical. He became the scapegoat for everyoneâ€™s elseâ€™s ineptitude, on the basis theirs were temporary, his is genetic. Jevons was given an easy ride for his meanderings and, quite frankly, faffing about.
After 35 minutes a Lincoln player chipped the ball over Groves, to the edge of the area on the Town centre right. Groves hesitated, stumbled, tripped, attempted to wrestle the large centre forward, and then fell over. This left Tubby Tony Battersby (who looks like the talented, but overweight, striker that every pub team has) alone with just Coyne to beat. The Big number 9 stopped, hesitated, shimmied, swayed his considerable hips right, then left, and Coyne lay down before him. BATTERSBY stepped outside Coyne and rolled the ball gently into the net. Lincoln fans were understandably ecstatic. The Town fans vent several spleens calling forth great vengeance and furious anger as we lay down before Buckley. Cue more Jeffrey baiting.
Buckley leapt up and almost smiled. Oh the Joy of Ex.
A couple of minutes after the goal there was a "Town Move". Jevons and Jeffrey exchanging passes on the edge of the area, with Jevons dinking a short pass through the defence for Campbell to run unmolested into the area. But Campbell was offside. And now another Town passing move, fast down the right, resulting in a hard clipped cross towards the penalty spot. Campbell sprinted in before a defender and tried a first time shot, which was deflected wide for a corner. A shot, a shot, thy kingdom for a shot. The corner caused no excitement.
Given that we were playing an archetypal Buckley team one expected them to concede a soft goal from a corner. In the last couple of minutes of the half Groves did win a far post header which he nodded back across goal. The goalkeeper plucked the ball off Jeffreyâ€™s head. For Town that was a chance, it was that bad, it really was. Unless you count Willems whacking a free kick into the wall. Yawnsome.
There is literally nothing else to describe in the first half. Lincoln outplayed Town, making us look 2 divisions below them. Embarrassing? Yes, very. Everyone within Blundell Park knew how Lincoln would play, their strengths and weaknesses. Before the game Groves had said the same, noting that Town had to close them down and not let them play at their own pace. So Town players jogged round the pitch. Iâ€™m not referring to Butterfield there, he didnâ€™t even jog.
There were numerous exchanges in the Pontoon asking "Whereâ€™s Danny?" Is it a new parlour game? Only Chapman emerged with any credit in the first half. The tiny tot out-jumped Thorpe and was very solid and reliable. Lawrence was urged to sign his contract immediately. As they (with the exception of the willing but largely ineffective Campbell) didnâ€™t try I wonâ€™t either. Letâ€™s draw a discrete veil over the 1st half. Like Victorians and bodily functions weâ€™ll ignore it and hope it never happens again.
And it started to rain.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Lincoln 1
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Why did we let Chapman go? Heâ€™s got springs for legs".
The report continues in the second half
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