Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
22/09 Stockport 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
I THINK Stockport made a substitution at half time, as a little man with the number 12 jersey was prominent at the start. Either that or he was incredibly useless in the first half.
Stockport County 3 Grimsby Town 3
22 Sep 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
As the old Saturday sports reporters used to say "the Blues kicked off with a rush" and Town were immediately under pressure down the right. Something happened, can't remember exactly, but it was a moment of danger, somewhere near Coyne's right hand post. I was too busy shooing midges away from my sandwich. In the first 5 minutes of the second half the ball seemed to be at the other end a lot. Nothing much to describe except crosses in, blocks and headers out. More crosses in, more blocks, misses and stumblings. Fradim had a free header from a corner on the Town right. He seemed to be about 8 or 9 yards out, just to the left of goal. He managed to head very powerfully, very high. Sometime in this period another Stockport player managed to head a deep cross wide after out-jumping Gallimore at the far post. Gibb also hit a shot from 25 yards about 5 yards wide. It was the sort of shot where the goalkeeper is preparing himself to take the goal kick as it passes the edge of the penalty area.
Town didn't do much either. The nearest Town came was a free kick, about 22 yards out near the corner of the penalty area. It followed a superb turn by Jeffrey to beat his marker and set himself free on goal, with just the 'keeper to beat.
The referee took the opportunity to award Town a free kick. Campbell curled the resultant shot over the wall and towards the top right hand corner. The goalkeeper shuffled across his line and punched the ball away, double fisted, for a corner. It was a good save, but one he should have made. As the goalkeeper turned to smile at the crowd (who had been "taunting" him with some witless inane insults) I realised who he reminded me of - Karl Malden. It's the nose, big and broad. Perhaps it was a Quinn Martin production.
The game ambled its way along, quietly, slightly boring, slightly annoying in that we were losing. After about 20 minutes of the second half Burnett burst forward inside the Stockport half. When I say burst, it was slightly faster than a walk. It was a burst by the standards of this game. Burnett went forward a few yards. No-one went towards him. He went forward a few more. Still no defender came near. He thought about shooting, then came forward a few more yards. He thought again about shooting, then advanced a bit further. By this stage he was 20 yards out, just to the right of centre. Finally a couple of defenders stopped retreating. BURNETT drilled in a low shot that zipped into the goalkeepers bottom left hand corner of the goal.
Around this point Town started to take a little more of an active role in the game, passing, and getting near the Stockport goal. Groves, at the far post, headed just over the angle of post and bar following a free kick on the Town right. Campbell started to become a prominent figure in proceedings, looking lively, perky, and, well, Campbellian. Five minutes after Town equalised doziness struck again. Town won possession in the middle of the pitch, just inside the Stockport half. The ball was tapped from Willems to Burnett and then to Butterfield. The Jogging One decided that he had all the time in the world and literally didn't move. A Stockport player ran from behind him and nicked the ball away. They immediately knocked it down the left wing for the scampering, diminutive number 12 who dribbled down the touchline and knocked the ball past Gallimore. Our left back ran at an angle away from the ball and Gibb crossed hard, at head height, towards the near post. WILBRAHAM stooped and glanced a header that looped over Coyne and in off the inside of the right hand post. Yet again the goal came out of nothing with the crowd startled. "Eh, where did that come from?" was the general response. Three headers, two looping over Coyne. A pattern emerging here. And an entirely predictable one too. Butterfield was told, quite bluntly, that careless walks cost goals.
A few minutes after their third goal Lawrence replaced Butterfield and Jeffrey with Boulding and Allen. Campbell moved to the right with Boulding playing as an old fashioned left winger. The effect was immediate - the Town fans have a new favourite. When was the last time we had a tricky quick winger? And boy does he have pace. Town pressed down after Campbell won the ball in midifeld and passed to Burnett, who in turn released Boulding behind the right back. Boulding had a couple of players shadowing him, but he twisted past them and got to the bye-line. He crossed to the far post, just beyond Allen, who turned , retrieved the ball and laid a pass back to Campbell on the edge of the penalty area. Campbell jinked inside one tackle, then outside another, to burst through into a yawning chasm on the right side penalty box. This left CAMPBELL with just the advancing Karl Malden to beat, which he did by placing the ball low to the 'keeper right. Wahay! 3-3, what a hoot. Campbell ran to the Town supporters at the side and celebrated most enthusiastically. So did we.
Stockport responded immediately when Hurst was sent free down the centre right, with Beharall and McDermott sprinting vainly after him. Hurst got into the penalty area and awaited Coyne's dive. He slammed a drive past Coyne and into the crowd, to the right of goal. Hurst went bananas, the crowd were deflated and Stockport, effectively, ended their contribution to the game. They visibly wilted after this miss. The rest of the match was Town, Town, Town. And the tricksy twosome of Boulding and Campbell were at the heart of danger to Stockport. Campbell beat his marker on the right and from a narrow angle crossed to the near post. Roget deflected the ball across the gaol and the goalkeeper smothered the ball on the line. Campbell curled a free kick from about 20 yards out, to the right of centre, a foot or so wide of the 'keeper's left hand post and Boulding outpaced the defence (this time there were three defenders marking him) and he hit a cross shot which flashed across the face of the gaol, missing by a few inches.
With 10 minutes left Broomes replaced Rowan and Town changed to a 5-3-2 formation, with Boulding joining Allen up front. Boulding proved a handful for the big Stockport centre backs, one of whom was booked for chopping him down after being fooled by pace and agility. Now the change to 5-3-2 didn't make Town any more solid, it rather invited Stockport into the penalty area, as it gave them more space down the flanks to whack the ball in to the box. Broomes didn't help by slicing three clearances vertically. "Oh Lever!" someone shouted to set Broomes in his correct historical context. Stockport created one highly dangerous moment late on when Wilbraham (who was by far their best player, he's totally wasted with a kick and rush team) volleyed a cross through the 6 yard box. His quick thinking had been miles too quick for his team mates.
Four minutes of added time were played, which passed off peacefully as the Town fans relaxed in the sun contemplating the vista. The Stockport fans poured out of the ground before the final whistle and this gave the Town supporters a chance to remind them of some salient facts - "Four roofs, at least our ground's got four roofs" and "we' won't be playing you next year (no we won't)". We wish them luck as we wave them goodbye.
Neither team really deserved to win, though Town deserved a point a little more through their attitude and commitment. Stockport merely relied on percentages and mistakes from the opposition. Of course Town duly obliged, but at least created goals for themselves with intelligent football (rather than lumping the ball up in the air). The defence was better than against Palace, but that is really a very low comparison, like comparing a pub team with Juventus. The old problem of an inability to cope with a physical and direct team reared its ugly head and so nearly handed three points to a relegation team. However, the plaudits must go to the front 6. When the ball was passed Town were fine, when Boulding came on, Town were a real threat, as Campbell visibly perked up by being on the right and Boulding is just so quick, with skill too. Even Allen looked ok. Without wishing to dwell on the negative, I would add that Town were much better with Butterfield off the pitch. He was terrible, he just didn't know what to do with himself, wandering around out of position, being dilatory when in possession. He just got in the way. Of Town.
But these are the mere details of history. The truth is rarely pure, and never simple. The important facts are the Town didn't lose and they came back from being behind three times, in one game. Spirit goes a long way in this division. We are already 30% of the way to comfort.
Nicko's Man of the Match - no-one was outstanding, a couple were poor. The best of a decent bunch was Burnett. He was the most creative player on the pitch and made a lot of important blocking tackles in midfield. It was a completely competent performance and was at least one dimension above anyone else on the pitch. And he scored a cracker too. We went on a train, we saw some planes, it didn't rain and then there was Wayne.
Official Warning. Philip Joslin - You must be joking Mr Joslin. He was inconsistently inconsistent. Dreadful, in that nearly all his decision were, at best, debatable. Even the one booking he made was probably wrong. You have to applaud his vision - he was the only person to spot Michael Jeffrey's magic shirt, the one that puts itself into defenders' hands. No big decision to make, which is fortunate. He gets 4.7 on the ever shifting and indefinable Nick0 scale. His linesmen were even worse. As a set, they're yours for Â£2.99 (postage and packing excluded)
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