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What a difference a Wayne makes: Forest Report
By: Tony Butcher
A CLEAR DAY, warm in the sun, chilly in the blustery breeze. The Osmond Stand was completely full of cheery forest folk, including the open corner. Similarly the two open corners at the Pontoon end were virtually full too, so the atmosphere was obviously absent.
Grimsby Town 0 Nottingham Forest 0
15 Sep 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The Forest supporters sang occasionally, whilst the Town fans sat silently watching the wheels go round and round.
Town vary warm up routine shock! Instead of the dressage and dance movement classes we now have the re-creation of the Metropolitan police motorcycle display team - criss-crossing, zig-zagging sprints between cones. Groves was the leader of the pack. Vroom, vroom.
Town lined up in the usual formation with the usual team. No-one appeared to have had a drastic haircut this week, though Groves' hair was erring on the short side, like he couldn't quite bring himself to have the haircut du jour.
Forest ambled about in front of their own supporters, with some longish hair, though with the exception of the number 26 (Edwards, whose hair bounced beautifully, is he or isn't he wearing Harmony hairspray?) nothing too outlandish, which was a shame.
Town kicked off toward the Osmond Stand and within 5 seconds had given the ball away. They didn't see much of it thereafter as most of the first half was played out in front of the Pontoon. As expected, Jack Lester was a bit of a pest, running, rolling and barging his way down the "channels". The first action of the game involved him turning and chasing down the Town centre left. With Galllimore running across to cover, and Campbell jogging somewhere near the half way line, there was a huge space for the Forest full back to run into. He did, but crossed straight at Coyne.
There was another moment of Lester induced worry when Butterfield allowed himself to be nut-megged then, when Willems had halted Lester, Jogging Danny B gave the ball straight back to Lester. Forest advanced and were only halted by some good defending by Groves/Beharall.
Forest were cutting through the Town midfield like, well, a hot knife through Butterfield. Their players were drifting into the spaces between the midfield and defence in the centre, whilst the full backs had oceans of space in which to wander down the flanks. Particularly the left, and it wasn't Gallimore's fault. It was obvious from the start that there was something wrong with Campbell, he was barely able to run, or rather, jog. Town looked very, very poor.
At last, after about 10 minutes, Town managed to get near the Forest goal and won a corner on the right. Willems flung it high, high, high to Groves, 8 yards beyond the far post, who headed firmly into the side netting as the goalkeeper wandered around. No-one realised that the Forest 'keeper is one of the players keeping Coyne out of the Welsh squad. He (Ward) didn't look happy with crosses and corners, flapping around like Coyne used to. You can forget about Town attacks for another 20 minutes.
After about 15 minutes Forest counter-attacked in numbers, and at speed, down the Town left. The Forest wide midfielder, Prutton, skimmed in a low cross to Lester, about 15 yards out, level with the near post. Lester swivelled and hit a first time right footed shot low, but straight at Coyne. The ball careered off the inside of Coyne's left boot and out across the penalty area, where McDermott dribbled the ball out, then passed to Pouton, who ponced about near the corner flag and eventually kicked it out for a throw in.
The Forest midfield then had a couple of long shots that went high and wide. The wide one, from a minute midfielder with late 70s hair (Neil) got them a corner, despite it going straight out unencumbered by Town legs. A long legged midfielder, Jenas, nearly broke through but Coyne saved at his feet, and a couple of crosses drifted over the bar and onto the top of the net. This Jenas character has comic potential. He tried to dribble through the Town defence a few times, falling over his own feet on each occasion. He was a sort of younger, thinner Paulo Wanchope. The ball seemed tied to his boot laces, though his feet weren't attached to his legs.
Ah, now, after 25 minutes we had the obligatory world class save from Danny Coyne. A deep cross from the Forest left towards the near post about 12 yards out, was headed firmly down by Stern John towards the very bottom left hand corner. Coyne swooped across and, as the ball skidded off the turf, flipped the ball just past the post for a corner. Excellent, marvellous, fantastic, routine. Hey, Ward, THAT'S international class 'keeping.
The flow of the game didn't alter, as Willems and Butterfield sat 5 yards in front of the back four. Forest simply kept the ball, waiting for a Town player to lose concentration and drift out of position. This normally meant waiting for their right back to run up the touch-line. Pity poor Campbell, it was like Town were playing with 10 men (well, 9 men and the boy Rowan. Has anyone asked him which subjects he chosen to take for his GCSE's?).
The first moment that fired up the Town crowd was a rumbustious, rollicking run down the right touch-line by Lester. McDermott matched him stride for stride, tug for pull, push for shove and, as Lester reached the bye-line in the area, McDermott made a perfect sliding tackle to whisk the ball out for a corner. Lester walked towards goal in front of the Pontoon with a wry, knowing smile. The smile that recognised that it had happened a thousand times before in training. He knows, we know, you'll never beat McDermott.
A few minutes later Lester was booked for a cynical late scythe at Beharall as Lennie's Loan Star cleared. Beharall turned round and gave Lester a verbal barrage. I don't need to describe the tackle - it was a typical late Lester lunge.
There were a few more long range shots and semi-incursions into the Town box, but nothing that forced Coyne to touch the ball. And then, praise be, Town had another shot after about 35 minutes. It was rubbish though. A Willems free kick, 20 yards out, just to the right of centre. Weak, low, through the wall, straight at the 'keeper. Back came Forest with the best chance so far. A rapid counter attack down the Town left saw the ball whipped into the centre of the penalty area to the unmarked Stern John, on the penalty spot. He tried to control the high bouncing ball and just as he was about to shoot Beharall sprinted across and took the ball off his right toe. Most excellent!
There was a couple of minutes delay when Willems wellied Prutton about 35 yards out on the Town left. The linesman flagged for offside as the ball was played forward by Prutton, but the referee over-ruled and gave Forest a free kick (surely the offside came first). Forest played with 10 men for a couple of minutes, during which Town couldn't get the ball (no change there then) and they eventually replaced Prutton with Iggy Pop. I'm sure that's what the tannoy announced, though it seems that their number 34 is called Bopp, which is rich enough as a seam of comic gold. I do hope his first name is Billy or Brian.
Town had their final shot of the half when they had passed the ball down the left and centre, with McDermott surging into the midfield . McDermott raced forward and, from 25 yards tried to do something which looked like a shot (it went 3 or 4 yards over the bar, quite softly), when he should have passed the ball out to the unmarked Pouton.
Forest, like a slow train, kept on a-coming. Jenas stumbled, bumbled and fumbled his way through three or four tackles and, inside the penalty area on the left, crossed towards the near post. Coyne raced off his line and took the ball off Lester's foot, sending Lester spinning into the air. A cross from the Forest left back, who had got behind the Town defence (where were you Pouton?) was headed by Stern John straight at Coyne. John was unmarked, about 12 yards out. Groves grimaced at his own slackness, the Pontoon silently raised it's collective eyebrows at another let off.
Jevons hobbled off after 42 minutes and was replaced by Jeffrey, who ran on in very sprightly fashion. The referee booked the Forest left back for kicking the ball away (he crossed after he'd been given offside) and nothing else happened before the half ended.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Nottingham Forest 0
From a Town perspective the first half was awful. Three "efforts" on goal, none looking remotely dangerous. The front two seemed to be several miles away from the midfield, with the two wide players looking particularly anonymous. Town played like an unadventurous away team, hoping for something to turn up. There was virtually no passing at all, the few times Town did get possession they invariably kicked it straight back to Forest. We then had a few minutes of Forest keep ball. Repeat pattern. Over and over and over again. The Town crowd was unwilling to make much noise, not even the drummer drummed much.
Something better change, otherwise Town were heading for a limp defeat
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"I see that Nicko's got a new coat".
The report continues in the second half.
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