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The King is in the Altogether - Watford Report
By: Tony Butcher
MURKY, misty, miserable and wet. Cleethorpes in October. Those southern softies don't like it up 'em, do they? Three points for Town usually follows stinking weather in the Humber. However, the crowd was quiet, almost resigned to failure, no excitement, no expectation. They were there through duty.
Grimsby Town 0 Watford 3
20 Oct 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The players looked bored in the warm up, it seemed a chore to them. The opposition had some bad hair (Wooter, sub-Edgar Davids dreadlocks with silver boots) a joke substitute (Ramon Vega) and a ginormous centre forward, Gifton Noel-Williams. Vialli was inconspicuous amongst the similarly de-coiffured back room staff on the bench, only his managerâ€™s anorak set him apart from the hoi poloi. Interestingly they had Galli in defence, whilst Town had the new, improved version, Gallimore (now with added panic).
Town lined up in a vague 4-4-2 formation. Campbell, as usual played as the left sided midfielder, with Neilson being the new number 2 (ie right back). Watford lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with very, very attack minded wing backs. Oh dear, they have width.
Watford kicked off towards their own supporters and within 20 seconds had torn Town apart down the right, with Smith smacking in a low cross shot which Coyne saved at his near post. This was move repeated at regular intervals throughout the afternoon. A longish ball from the back was headed/knocked on by Noel-Williams into space behind our full backs (usually Neilson) and Smith scampered away causing panic. Just insert this into your mental picture of this game every four or five minutes, you'll get the idea.
By the second minute Willems had volleyed the ball into the Pontoon from 30 yards. This was move repeated at regular intervals throughout the afternoon. A Town player (usually Butterfield) would aimlessly swing his boot when 25/30 yards away from the Watford goal and usually send the ball either spinning pathetically onto the roof, or rolling slowly straight to the keeping.
A couple of minutes after Willemsâ€™ wild slice into the lower reaches of the Pontoon, Rowan was pulled to earth by Galli, after Rowan had wriggled free 25 yards out, on the left edge of the Watford area. Willems cracked in a low drive towards the goalkeeperâ€™s near post, which was dropped, and Rowan and Jevons raced in. They ended up falling over themselves and one of them sliced the ball wide as the goalie leapt towards them just to the left of goal.
In the first quarter of an hour the game had the veneer of an even, end to end match, though Town got there by luck, Watford by judgment. Watford had a very definite game plan, which was very continental. They kept possession at the back, sucked Town players forward then passed into the vacated spaces. They did sophisticated, metropolitan things like pass then move. Town just played to their strengths by kicking the ball high towards our mighty strikers who somehow failed to win headers against taller, stronger men. Passing and movement is, of course, from another Town era, We've "moved on" from that nonsense.
There then followed a rather barmy 2 minute spell, with the officials central to the murder mystery. After 15 or so minutes Watford (yet again) broke away quickly down the flanks, this time the left, and a cross was hit in low and hard to the near post. In the middle of the penalty area Broomes swung his left boot at the ball and miscued towards Coyne, who picked it up. The referee, incredibly, decided that it was a back pass and gave Watford a free kick about 12 or so yards out. A really stupid decision. Everyone lined up on the goal line, though the "wall" was really poor - the Town players allowed Noel-Williams to stand in front of Coyne , leaving a space right in the middle of the goal. Fortunately Hughes sliced the ball way, way over the bar, to Coyneâ€™s right.
Town simply went up the other end and scored. Pouton picked up a pass about 30 yards out, just in front of the defence. He hit a perfect through ball with the outside of his right boot between three Watford defenders for Jevons to run onto and clip low to the 'keeperâ€™s right and into the net. The linesman flagged for offside and so no goal. From behind the goal it looked a debatable decision, though none of the Main Stand or Findus/Stones/Smiths Stand supporters rose to bait the linesman. So either they thought it was offside, or they had given up already. Watford wellied the free kick up field, Noel-Williams flicked the ball on into space behind Gallimore, and Smith sprinted forward. Groves and Gallimore backed off slightly and, from the edge of the area about 8 or 9 yards from bye line, Smith curled a hard centre through the 6 yard box. Neilson swung his right boot, missed, and HYDE swept the ball in from a few yards past the far post. The crowd just slumped, a few moans, but barely a ripple. It was expected. Town had been unable to cope with the wingbacks system, as Watford ALWAYS had at least one man free down the wings. Pouton and Campbell were not tracking back, and Neilson was pushing up to his wing back as Broomes retreated, thus creating huge pools of space for Watford players to swim at their leisure.
Not too much happened for the next 10 or 15 minutes, certainly not down at the Pontoon, as Town perfected the art of long passing to yellow. Insert two or three of the raids described in the first paragraph. Coyne, mostly, managed to catch, block or variously intercept the crosses. But lo, it came to pass that Town managed to, err, pass to each other. After about half an hour Campbell (I think, it was so nice to see him occasionally) scuttled down the left and the ball was eventually crossed towards Rowan at the near post. He flicked the ball on and it fell into space about 15 yards out, level with the â€™keeperâ€™s left hand post. Neilson raced forward and cracked a first time volley low to the 'keeperâ€™s left. It was parried and scrambled away by Hyde as Neilson attempted to follow through. Corner to Town, wasted as usual.
The next 15 minutes were more of the same. Watford had the ball for large chunks of time and generally tore the Town full backs apart, but I don't recall any particularly threatening moments. Or perhaps I have become inured to the number of chances the Town defence charitably donate to the opposition. The crowd were silent, awaiting the traditional half time boo, when total and utter disaster struck. Humiliating, laughable, and inept.
Watford played the ball around at the back for a few seconds. Eventually a Town striker went towards them. The ball was played into the vacated space. A midfielder ambled forward to challenge. The ball was played into that space, then sideways, then up to Noel Williams, on his own, just inside the Town half on the right. He was allowed to turn and he dinked a little scooped pass over the back four (who were all in a line 15 or so yards out from the penalty area). One Watford player ran forward as 4 or 5 Town players watched, whilst Coyne sprinted out of his area. Coyne tried to whack the ball away but pulled out of the kick as he realised that Noble had beaten him to the ball. NOBLE simply walked the ball into the area, up to the goal line and tapped it in. In the 3 or 4 seconds it took for Noble to stroll to goal a awful silence descended upon Blundell Park and Broomes had an almighty go at Campbell for failing to mark the Watford player.
The game might as well have ended then. The Town players looked totally deflated, the management looked pitiably ineffective, the crowd simmering with impotent rage. A couple of minutes of added time were played, with the referee blowing his whistle just as Butterfield beat a 4th player in a mazy dribble and was about to burst free in the area. Yeah, thatâ€™s true too. Butterfieldâ€™s only creative input was stymied by the refâ€™s whistle. How cruel.
Poor, poor Town. The defence was a mess, as you'd expect with a couple of loan players, one of them out of position. Neilson looks like a decent footballer, but schooled in a completely different defensive philosophy. He pushed up whilst some of the others stayed back. Disaster inevitably followed. There was no defensive unit, nor midfield unit either, just men in black hanging around like teenagers at half term. Once again the ball was played too quickly and too high to the strikers, and they rarely received any support from midfield. At other times the ball was stuck on Butterfieldâ€™s boot when a quick ball forward was required. Ironically, Gallimore and Neilson were the only support they received on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Gallimore just crossed to a Watford head all the time. Pouton was, frankly, rubbish and Campbell invisible. Willems and Butterfield sat back too much and ended up neither helping the attack, nor the defence, by getting sucked into being piggies in the middle. Why go on dismembering the Town players? It was only what has been seen at virtually every league game this season. Same old Grimsby, falling a-part.
Oh yes, The Town supporters booed the team off. And then the referee.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Watford 2
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Whatâ€™s happened to Pouting Pouton, heâ€™s playing like a ponce these days".
The report continues in the second half.
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