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26/10 Birmingham 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. Birmingham started with a little more oomph, and Town were a bit subdued, with a dip in intensity. This resulted in Town being pegged back in their own half for 4 or 5 minutes.
Grimsby Town 3 Birmingham City 1
26 Oct 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
There was a little slackness in defence, with Broomes losing concentration and allowing Horsefield to drift unmarked into a big space on the left edge of the Town area. The ball was eventually passed to Horsefield who jiggled past three players and had a cross shot charged down, and out, for a corner on the Town left. It was swung in to the centre of the 6 yard box. Coyne came out, stopped, retreated and watched MARCELLO head past him, over Chapman, and in to the top centre left of the goal. The reaction of the Town crowd was markedly different from recent games. Some stood up and started to chant for Town, to get behind the team. Well, the team had shown they were trying, so we would too.
We didnâ€™t have to wait long for a reward, about 3 minutes. Town attacked down the right, which was repulsed near the half-way line. Butterfield retrieved the ball and, instead of his usual aimless punt forward, held on to it, waiting for Jevons to come back on-side. Instead of dinking a little pass down the line for Jevons, the maligned jogger hit a splendid Hoddle-esque pass 50 yards across field behind the right back. BOULDING sprinted forward and controlled the ball with his chest, about 30 yards out. He carried the ball forward, awaited the â€˜keeper and lashed the ball under the lime clad Belgian and into the bottom corner on the â€˜keepers right. Thereâ€™s only one Michael Boulding, observed the Pontoon, amongst many other songs. My we were happy, Iâ€™m sure you were too.
Town didnâ€™t let up in their attacking and, frankly, midfield mauling. Shortly after this Jevons nearly scored a fourth when a corner from the right dropped to him about 10 yards out. He volleyed with is left foot and the goalkeeper saved instinctively and very well. Boulding was sent free down the left and his cross-shot fizzed a foot or so wide of the goalkeeperâ€™s right hand post.
Bradley Allen was not amused as he was completely unmarked near the penalty spot. It wasnâ€™t all Town, but when Town did attack they looked like theyâ€™d score.
Birmingham spent most of the half attempting to use Horsefieldâ€™s aggression to bundle through the centre. He was always crowded out, the 4th or 5th defender would eventually stop him. Marcello (I think) had an excellent chance to make it 3-2, but fluffed his strike when alone in the middle of the penalty area, following a cross from the Town left. This may have been one of the many occasions that Birmingham were caught offside. Which rather suggests that the Town defence had some organisation.
Most of the Birmingham efforts on goal were from outside the area and they usually went high and wide. Perhaps the most worrisome moment was a free kick, about 20 yards out, just left of centre. The wall was, shall we say, incomplete, with at least three clear routes to goal. Eaden simply curled the ball into the wall. Phew. The free kick was delayed as the players had a bit of argy-bargy, with Pouton being booked. I think he was gaining revenge on a defender for a cynical hack on him in front of the Lower Stones/Smiths/Findus, a few minutes earlier.
Town had a couple more excellent efforts around the 65 to70 minute mark. Firstly Butterfield, about 25yards out in the centre, smacked a half volley a few inches over the bar following a cleared corner. The next, and probably last chance for Town, followed some persistence by Allen, who chased a rather hopeful chip over the top into the penalty area. The central defender decided to play the ball back towards the goalkeeper, or where he though the goalkeeper should be - 10 yards to the right of goal. Possibly only he on this planet thought the goalkeeper would, should, or could be there.. The â€˜keeper chased the ball, but Allen got there first and turned the ball back to Boulding who strolled forward and, from a narrow angle about 10 yards out, smashed the ball against the face of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post.
As far as Town chances go, that was it really. There were a few dangerous moments with crosses just behind strikers and some promising attacks down the flanks, but no other memorable moments. In the last 15 or so minutes Birmingham made a few substitutions and pressed Town back, increasingly concentrating on whipping in crosses. They were a bit daft to spend over an hour trying to bundle through the middle when they had been shown how to score when they, er, scored.
Rowan replaced Jevons with a dozen or so minutes left and his chief contribution to the nightâ€™s entertainment was to get clobbered by the Birmingham centre half, Purse, who was very, very lucky to stay on the pitch. Firstly he upended Boulding, just inside the Birmingham half, on the touchline, as our scampering maestro sailed off into the sunset towards goal. Result - yellow card. A few minutes from the end Purse appeared to elbow Rowan after the ball had been played upfield. Birmingham got a free kick for the Rowan challenge, and Purse was "talked to" by the referee. The crowd were not amused, and neither were the Town players. The game got a bit heated in the last 20 minutes, with some late hacks, chiefly from the irate midlanders, of course. Town players never foul, honest.
As the crowd waited to put those three points in the back pocket, Birmingham finally put together a few passes and some late, sustained pressure. Or perhaps the Town players thought it would be nice for Danny Coyne to show the televisual public, all 900, his capabilities. Most of the threat to Town came down the left, as gaps started to appear there. Not criticism of Gallimore, just a reflection on how Birmingham attacked, which was to get Horsefield to drive into the middle from their left, sucking in more and more Town players to block him. This left space on the flanks. Somewhere in the last 10 minutes they hit the bar from about 10 yards out when a cross from their right was headed firmly by a striker. I couldnâ€™t tell who, as there were 3 or 4 bodies all challenging. A corner from their right was headed straight at Coyne , again from less than 10 yards out, right in the centre. It was probably easier to score than miss. But he did, so why worry? And finally Cyril, one of the Birmingham players managed to get behind the Town defence, on the left of the area. From a narrow angle he belted in a shot which Coyne appeared to parry one handed, at head height. There were the usual scrambles and last ditch tackles. Well, in the context of the last couple of months, the unusual scrambles and tackles. Everyone played their part, with a special mention to spring heeled Ben, who made a couple of vital headed clearances. Birmingham had two or three shots from outside the area, which Coyne saved comfortably.
There were four minutes of added time, which just meant we had four more minutes of singing and smiling. So George, where did it all go right? Firstly, everything was right. The attitude, the selection, the tactics, the formation. It all stemmed from the central midfield pairing, simply da best. Pouton was everywhere, no more lazing on the right wing. He gave a performance that was the equal of his barnstormer against Fulham, with Coldicott every inch his equal. Butterfield was very competent as a solid right midfielder, covering the flank and distributing intelligently. He should be applauded for his vision in creating the third goal. Boulding was a constant threat, purely because of his pace. And he looks like a cool finisher. He just looked like he was going to score when he advanced towards goal for his second. At least he is one of the answers, perhaps he is part of the solution.
Allen and Jevons were constantly moving, rotating position and they thrived on the new fangled idea of passing the ball to their feet. They also thoroughly enjoyed the support they received from midfield players and the full backs. The defence looked far more organised than at any time this season. They played offside and it worked. Broomes and Beharall looked a decent pairing, showing positional understanding. There were rarely any big holes in the centre of the defence. They werenâ€™t perfect, but theyâ€™d certainly do for now. Gallimore thrived in his role as captain, playing intelligently and leading by example.
It reminded us why we bother to go to Blundell Park - there hasnâ€™t been such a complete performance for years. Even the rabble rousing matches last year were for 45 minutes salvaging games, or simply defensively sound (like Fulham). This was superb from front to back, and back to front again. In attack and defence Town excelled. Town attacked with brio, verve and skill. In that respect Birmingham were unfortunate, but who cares about that?
Just keep it simple and donâ€™t make any changes Mr Lawrence. Thatâ€™ll do nicely.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Everyone was excellent, but some were more excellent than others. It can only be the central midfield destroyer Acey Pouticott. Pouton was the more flashy, swashbuckling tackler, but Coldicott was probably the more effective of the two, making little blocks and barely missing anything. So Nicko goes for Stacey. And I am unanimous in that.
P R Richards. Generally not bad, until the middle of the second half when he allowed himself to be bullied by Birmingham players. They seemed to operate a policy of rotating arguers. Whenever a foul was committed their players would take it in turns to harangue the referee. He was inconsistent, in that he booked Broomes for a tackle from behind but allowed a couple of Birmingham players to get away with even stronger, later tackles from behind. He also chickened out of sending Purse off. So I am feeling a little vindictive to the referee and give him 3.8, for turning up.
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