Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
13/10 Sheff Utd 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
WILLEMS replaced Chapman, with Campbell being banished to the left wing. The players lined up oddly, and the crowd went silent, as if we were preparing to have a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the end of Town's challenge.
Sheffield United 3 Grimsby Town 1
13 Oct 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
It started, the game continued as before. Nothing particularly seemed to happen for great swathes of time. After 5 or so minutes of the half Town broke away quickly down the left, with Campbell being set free. He completely wasted the opportunity by trying to play a clever pass with the outside of his boot. He ended up kicking it out of play for a goal kick. Within a minute he had been substituted and replaced by Allen. And Town changed to a 4-3-3 formation. And Town became a mess, like a tray of stale custard tarts.
Allen was cast into the abyss behind the front two, or at least that appeared to be the "formation". Looking down the pitch from behind the goal all that could be seen, for minutes on end, was two long lines of yellow. Sheffield United obeyed the law and didn't park on the double yellow lines, keeping the ball wide in the wilderness of the wings. Town treated the areas outside the penalty areas as though they were lands as yet uncharted by the civilised world, where demons and dragons may lay. I'd hardly call Peter Ndlovu that, demons and dragons don't fall over when you look at them.
The second half was rotten, at times farcical. Around the time of the change in formation one of their midfielders, Tonge, ran forward with the ball 35 yards unmolested or challenged, being allowed to set himself for a shot from a central position 20 yards out. Disappointingly, rather than attempting to bend the ball into the top corner (and hence enable me to describe a curling Tonge effort), he hit a low shot a few inches wide of Coyne's left hand post.
The next 30 minutes were dreadful stuff from Town, verging towards the rotten performance against Rotherham. Shocking in Sheffield? The Town supporters began to disengage from the event, asking when the next train home was, someone got out a book to read, others began to work out the optimum score for their various prediction competitions, POMs if you like. This resulted in some fans cheering Town on for one goal (and one goal only) whereas others were willing a further concession or for Town to avoid scoring. Something they are masters at.
Most of the panic in the Town defence was self inflicted. In one stupid minute the ball was gifted to the Blades within 20 yards of the goal. Firstly, when Town were awarded a free kick 8 yards from goal in the centre of the area. Gallimore decided to take a quick free kick to set up a counter attack. He tapped it to the right edge of the penalty area. To no-one. Butterfield was within 6 or 7 yards but trotted towards the ball as the Sheffield full back sprinted forward, passed him and crossed. Butterfield took his time and didn't feel he had to hurry. At this point the Town fans started to argue amongst themselves regarding blame. Some shouted at Gallimore for a stupid pass, other towards Butterfield for his light jog vaguely in the right direction. It was probably a bit of both really. A minute or so later Coyne threw the ball towards Gallimore, but there was nowhere near enough pace on the throw and a Sheffield player sprinted forward and crossed, with Broomes hacking the ball away. The crowd were apoplectic by this time. "How much worse can this get" was heard. "You weren't at Rotherham game then?". This was bad, very bad, but not, on the whole a bad as against Rotherham. The really bad bits here were confined to the second half.
After 15 minutes, Boulding was seen preparing to come on. As Lawrence waited for the ball to go out, Sheffield had an attack. Butterfield headed the ball away from the edge of the area under pressure from D'Jaffo. Butterfield then lay on the ground holding his head. Play continued as Sheffield had the ball. The Town players wanted the game stopped, and waited for the referee to do so. He insisted play continued. Butterfield was prostrate in the middle of the Town area, thus meaning the Town defence had to retreat into the area. BROWN advanced towards the edge of the area and chipped the ball over Coyne into the top left-ish of the goal. An excellent finish, but controversy ensued as the referee was surrounded by the angry Town players, only allowing the trainer on after the ball had gone in. Coyne was out of position for the goal as he had gone out towards Butterfield, then remonstrated with the referee as Brown had started to advance. Needless to say this riled the Town support into some anger. Why does this sort of thing always happen at Bramall Lane. Why are referees so supine here? Perhaps Warnock's constant whinging works.
Within a minute Butterfield was replaced by Coldicott, not Boulding. If Coldicott was sent on to hold up the centre, he did that; unfortunately the wings were still a terrible problem. After the third goal had gone in the Town players had given up on the game. Groves was seen to wave disgustedly and contemptuously at the referee when the referee wanted to "chat". Gallimore and Willems were seen having a discussion on who should go and tackle someone who had just run past them down the wing. Gallimore ended up trotting back. Groves missed a short through ball as it skidded off the wet surface (and he'd received the gentlest of pushes) and Suffo collected the pass, raced into the area on the Town right and drilled in a low shot which Coyne kicked away for a corner. A little later they broke away down the Town left, pouring forward into the vast open acreage in front of Coyne. The ball was played to Ndlovu, just outside the penalty area in the centre. His shot wobbled as Coyne went to his right, forcing Coyne to adjust his position and parry the ball to his left. The ball bounced high and free on the left of the goal on the edge of the 6 yard area. D'Jaffo sprinted forward and hurled himself towards the ball. Coyne got up and threw himself towards D'Jaffo. Coyne blocked the ball away for a corner, not without having been laid out for a minute or so.
As the half wore on Coyne took a bit of a battering, as Sheffield hung up more crosses which invited "strong" challenges from their forwards. In total, four Town players had some kind of treatment for head injuries. Apart form a couple of headers straight at Coyne and a couple of crosses that fizzed across the area, nothing else got through to Coyne; there were just lots of excellent opportunities wasted by Sheffield players being, quite frankly, limited in vision and skill.
In the last quarter of an hour Town did have a couple of chances. Jevons curled a hopeful shot from 20 yards out, near the right edge of the penalty area, just wide of the 'keepers left hand post. After a quick ground based counterattack, Jevons played Allen in free behind the defence on the right edge of the penalty area. With just the 'keeper to beat Allen stood on the ball, fell over, and Sheffield cleared, much to the amusement of their supporters. With three or four minutes left Town got a corner on the right. Willems took it and it was rubbish, curling low towards the near post and into the side netting. All the players jogged back up field and it was only as the ball was being placed in the centre spot that the Town supporters realised that it had gone in. Yes, WILLEMS had scored, though in retrospect it might have been a Tracey own goal, as the 'keeper had dived backwards and the ball did hit the side netting nearest Willems. No-one in the ground had reacted at all, no Town players raised their arms, no Blade had remonstrated. It just seemed to be another poor corner. We sort of laughed when we realised Town had scored. The Sheffield supporters were taunted with "we can see you sneaking out" and "1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3". They were no match for our untamed wit. We won't be back next week though.
For the last few minutes Sheffield looked a bit rocky, though Town never, ever, looked like scoring. The "nearest" was a Willems free kick from 25 yards which he scuffed 10 yards wide. I am doing Pouton a slight disservice, as sometime in the half he volleyed 15 yards wide when set up 20 yards out on the right.
There you are, that's it, The story of yet more blues for Town supporters. It all seemed to be too dull for the players, the hum-drum day to day job of working at "the likes of " Sheffield United. In this poor division you've got to pick up the easy meat with your eyes closed. Sheffield United did. The first half was boring, not a disgrace, just dull. Town were relatively organised, if totally ineffective as an attacking force. The second was a shocker, they collapsed like a badly baked soufflÃ© again, holes everywhere, players looking as though they wanted to go home. No-one looked comfortable in the "position" they were assigned, if they even understood where they were supposed to be. There was a lot of looking at each other quizzically when Sheffield players emerged in space with the ball. No-one sang "you don't know what your doing", it was obvious they didn't, so why tell them?
The proof of the pudding is, supposedly, in the eating. In the league, Town are indigestible at the moment. They can't even see the dessert trolley.
Nicko's Man of the Match - only one player emerged with his reputation enhanced and so the award goes to Ben Chapman. He may only have played half a match, but he is half sized. Chunky thighs and a chunky performance from the pint sized Gilbert look a like.
Mr Butler: Weak, supine, "pusillanimous" to use a word thrown at him from the crowd. A couple of minutes after refusing the stop play when Butterfield was lying motionless inside the Town area, he showed great sympathy for a Sheffield player holding his leg after an Allen challenge. How compassionate. The referee was unwilling to annoy the home team when he had important decisions to make. There was a handball in the build up to the second goal, and the third goal had a huge element of controversy attached to it. He was adept at missing those elbows across the nose which Broomes and Groves encountered. "I'll get you Butler". 3.71 on the Mohs scale of Hardness
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