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15/09 Forest 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time. The first two or three minutes were uneventful, the other 42 weren't. Lester bundled his way past Groves and hit a weakish shot straight at Coyne, from about 15 yards out, to the left of centre.
Grimsby Town 0 Nottingham Forest 0
15 Sep 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
Lester then spent most of the rest of the half offside. Ah, those Blundell Park memories. Campbell's last (and first) contribution was an in-swinging corner from the Town left which Beharall, about 10 yards out, in the centre, headed a few inches wide of the 'keepers left hand post. Then Campbell was taken off in the 50th minute, replaced by Burnett. Butterfield moved to right midfield, Pouton to left midfield and Burnett ruled the centre.
The substitution immediately changed the flow of the game. Burnett's first contribution was to hassle in midfield, forcing Forest back towards their penalty area and a poor pass out from a defender. Burnett received the ball near the half way line and advanced down the middle, he waited for the last defender and tapped a perfectly weighted ball out to Butterfield, unmarked on the right.
Butterfield clipped a swinging cross towards the far post, where Ward just managed to tip the ball away for a corner. The corner, from the Town left, was swung out by Willems and half cleared on the left edge of the Forest area. Pouton, about 25 yards out, slipped a short pass through the advancing defenders, McDermott ran through and crossed to the far post. Rowan, unmarked, 8 yards out, skied the ball over the bar, and nearly over the Pontoon. Rowan held his head in his hands, the Pontoon held their heads in their hands. Was this the moment that Lennie's luck ended?
Forest immediately attacked down the Town right, with a cross bobbling towards the near post. Three players slid in and Stern John lifted the ball over Coyne into the net. Forest fans jubilant, Forest players ecstatic, Town fans dismayed. NO, Town fans jubilant, Forest fans angry! The linesman had his flag up for offside. I don't know who, but I presume (on the balance of probabilities) that it was Lester.
A minute later Reid drifted into the Town area, on the centre right and smacked a rising drive a few inches over the bar, and a couple of minutes after that Lester "fell" in the area with Groves nearby. No penalty, schadenfreude in the Pontoon. Sometime during this manic 10 minutes a superb flowing move down the Town right saw Jeffrey enact scenes from ye olde days of the last century. He held the ball up in the edge of the penalty area and tried a Reesian flick for McDermott, who was sprinting by.
The flick was intercepted by a Forest defender, but Jeffrey retrieved the ball and spun round, hitting a first time low cross to the near post. McDermott had continued his run across the 6 yard box and was not prepared for this quick thinking, quick moving Jeffrey, spinning around to balloon a first time shot miles over the bar.
The game ebbed and flowed from goal mouth to goal mouth. Each attack seemed to bring a scoring opportunity. Unfortunately, the referee decided that he would spend 10 minutes giving Forest free kicks around the edge of the own penalty area; if a Forest player fell (or lost control) they got a free kick.
The linesman acted as a counter balance by flagging them offside whenever they threatened. From one of the many free kicks Williams curled a right footed shot a few inches past the angle of Coyne's left hand past and bar. Close enough for the Forest fans to get excited, but it was never going in, Coyne had it covered all the way. Forest were not averse to trying shots from outside the box with three or four zipping through the area and over the bar. The nearest was probably a first time swinging drive from Stern John which went just over the centre of the goal.
A spell of Town pressure down the right ended with McDermott hitting a high curling cross to the far post. It looked to be an easy catch for the 'keeper, but he missed it completely. Pouton raced in and, from 6 or 7 yards wide of the goal and about 6 or 7 yards out, hit a first time shot towards the goal. There were no Forest players between Pouton, ball and net. The Town supporters rose to acclaim the goal, then sat down again as the ball rebounded off Butterfield's shins and away from goal. A few minutes later Jeffrey crossed the ball to Pouton, about 12 yards out, a few yards to the left of goal. Pouton hit a first time side footed shot low, but straight at the 'keeper, who fumbled, then caught the rebound. What a cracking half!
Coyne's distribution. Mmmmmm. Shall we say it was inconsistent. He tried to release the ball early, but succeeded in throwing the ball out of play or directly to a Forest player. He didn't cope well with the swirling wind, which held the ball up under the Stones/Smiths/Findus stand, but sometimes made the ball run on and on and on near the open corners. His kicking wasn't much better either. Town lost momentum during the middle bit of the second half, partly due to Coyne's throwing.
Still the chances kept on coming. Lester, yet again, cut inside and hit a shot straight at Coyne, Town went down the other end and Jeffrey headed softly straight at the 'keeper from about 8 yards out. He was leaning back slightly as Pouton's cross was a little behind him. Forest counter attacked down the Town right and, for the second time this season, McDermott hit a back pass straight to an opponent. And like last time the player drifted past Coyne and hit the ball into the side netting. Burnett hit a drive from 25 yards straight at the goalkeeper. It was so exciting that everyone had turned round and run back up field by the time it reached the 'keeper.
Fifteen minutes left and it was looking like a certain 0-0 draw. The confirmation came that it definitely was going to be one. A town break down the left saw Jeffrey out maneuver, outmuscle and outpace a defender. He crossed into the box behind Rowan. Butterfield steamed in and, from about 15 yards out slightly to the right of centre, hit a stunning sideways half volley low to the 'keeper's right. The Pontoon went up to acclaim the ubiquitous Danny's winner, then stayed up to applaud a truly world class save. Ward changed direction, flung himself horizontally and punched the ball up and around the right hand post for a corner. So that's why Wales pick him.
There was a little flurry of substitutions with 10 or so minutes left, Rowan was replaced by Allen to no great effect, good or bad. Allen's major contribution was to get a free kick from which B Bopp-a-loola was booked for allowing Willems to kick the ball against him when his back was turned. The referee decided to take the ball forward a further 10 yards. The Town supporters licked their lips and rubbed the hands (or was it the other way round), as this was well within Menno range. He duly obliged by scuffing a weak shot wide. We should have learned by now that he's a one goal a season merchant, the law of averages dictates that one'll go in, one day.
In the last 5 minutes Forest finished by far the stronger (and took off Lester). Williams hit a first time shot from 20 yards, near the left corner of the Town area, which drifted across the face of goal and a deep cross from the Forest left sailed over Gallimore, whereupon Bopp stooped and headed a yard wide. The fourth official held up the board - 2 minutes left. Two minutes 30 seconds were played, the referee ending the game when Town started to counter attack.
Relief and disappointment at the end. An awful first half and a super, exciting, action packed second half. All in all a point was an acceptable outcome, despite the glut of chances Town created in the second half, and even with Rowan missing an open goal. Butterfield played well as the wide right midfielder, making some dangerous crosses and even showing a couple of tricks to beat players. Burnett's introduction changed everything. It freed up the midfield, allowing Forest more space to attack, but also enabling Town to go forward. It's nice to see Town playing like a home team at home.
After Campbell was replaced Town played some sublime football - they passed and moved, with individuals doing flicks and tricks. They also dominated the game on occasions, that just doesn't happen when the Willems/Butterfield central midfield is playing. Jeffrey looked lively, linking well with Butterfield and Burnett down the right, causing Forest problems.
It was the defence where the majority of the plaudits lie, individually, if not collectively. Forest had determined and fast players, and were well organised. Beharall made some super interceptions and again produced his trademark flick over his head to beat an attacker (as it was Lester it was even more appreciated by the cognoscenti in the Pontoon). Gallimore was a willing attacker and (apart from an early wibble and the late wobble) was untroubled in defence. He was very assured today.
The last two league games have produced two good halves. One day we'll put them together and stuff someone, er, 2-0. For a Town supporter, life's not too bad at the moment, is it?
Nicko's Man of the Match - Who is Nicko's man of the match? Is it Wayne, the half time substitute? Could be! Is it Beharall, the reliable loan star? Could be? Or is it John McDermott, the mild mannered right back? Yes, he's the number one super-guy. All round consistent (for the purposes of this award I am ignoring the bad back pass), determined and he got double bonus points for his tussle and tackle on Lester in the first half.
Official Warning Mr Cooper - at times very fussy, at others easily conned. Didn't make any major bad decisions, but a lot of small decisions that were obviously wrong. One had the feeling that a terrible decision was about to be made. Overall a 5.2 (with 3.9 for artistic impression)
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