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Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
30/10 Norwich 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time and the game continued in exactly the same way as the first half. Town started slightly better than Norwich, though only slightly.
Grimsby Town 0 Norwich City 2
30 Oct 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The first chance fell to them (a driving run from Libbra down the Town centre right, which resulted in a low shot just past the near post). Town had an effort on goal after about 50 minutes. Someone scampered down the right and crossed to Boulding, just beyond the far post. He headed accurately, but weakly, straight into the goalkeeperâ€™s arms, despite being nudged and nurdled by the defender.
And then the game fell apart for Town. In no particular order, Libbra hit the post after drifting past three Town players on the Town right of the area, cut in towards the middle and dragged a low left foot shot against Coyneâ€™s right hand post. The rebound was scrambled away. Roberts barged his way down the Town left, cut in and curled a shot against the top face of the crossbar on the centre right of the goal. And they scored again. A minute or two after Willems replaced Coldicott, Norwich attacked down the Town right. They tried to dink the ball over Beharall, who half cleared, but only straight to a Norwich player, who simply knocked the ball back past him. Beharall was woefully out of position and was left chasing the Norwich striker (Libbra, I think) who made a bee line for the bye-line and dragged the ball back across goal, behind the Town defence. MULRYNE, on the centre left of the Town penalty area, ambled forward, controlled the ball, took out a set square, some graph paper and a newly sharpened pencil and performed some rudimentary geometric equations to select the appropriate angle. He then placed the ball into the bottom right hand corner. Silence, except for the singing Canaries.
That really was that, game over, and still more than 30 minutes left. The players looked resigned, almost accepting of their fate, except Gallimore who clogged a Norwich winger, and Broomes who kept on surging forward. For a defender heâ€™s a very good striker.
The crowd were roused from the stultifying torpor by young Marlon when he sprinted forward to support an attack, leaping up with a Norwich defender, about 10 yards from goal after someone lifted the ball up into the area. Broomes handled, the Norwich player handled, the crowd appealed, the referee waved play on. It was difficult to tell who handled first, probably Broomes, from the way the ball careered crazily away from goal. A minute later the referee riled the crowd further by awarding a free kick against Willems, right under the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus stand on the touch-line. Willems was bundled over, but the referee gave a free kick against Willems for tugging the Norwich playerâ€™s shirt. Curious. Butterfield volleyed a foot over the bar when a corner was half cleared to him 20 yards out, in the centre.
There was a small spell of Town pressure after 70-75 minutes, during which Boulding scurried past the right back, collecting a cross field pass from Butterfield on the volley, shimmied past two defenders and hit a cross shot which was sliced away from the middle of the 6 yard box. Jevons, from 25yards out, to the left of goal, volleyed from a narrow angle towards the â€˜keeperâ€™s top right hand corner. The goalkeeper was standing in the flight of the ball and had a simple save to make. The move was, at last, a Town move, some quick, one touch interchanges of passes between the midfield and strikers. Too little, too late. The game drifted slowly, far too slowly, to its conclusion. Pouton scuffed a shot well, well wide, there were a few desperate flaps in the Norwich penalty area, with Town players looking far too willing to pass the ball to someone else to shoot.
After about 70ish minutes Rowan replaced Allen, which was met with (in the context of the Town support) displeasure. Allen looked distinctly un-chuffed to be taken off - he was the only one moving when Town attacked. Rowan did nothing exceptional, reaching the level of adequate at times. Four or five minutes later Chapman, after receiving treatment for another head injury, was replaced by Chris Thompson, who played up front with Rowan. Jevons went to the right wing, with Butterfield at right back. Butterfield was fine then. For the record, Thompson showed a couple of neat touches, and one great show of determination, when the ball rolled towards the bye-line, with a Norwich defender shielding it. Thompson bundled, raked and won the ball. Town got a throw-in out of it. Willems kept slipping over, which wasted a couple of attacks, and caused a couple of difficulties, though generally he was a bit of an improvement on Coldicott. At least Willems passed to his own team.
Norwich continued to attack, with Coyne having to make a couple of saves from long range, a couple at his near post when strikers bundled down the flanks and cut in, and a one-on-one after the wide right player had drifted past Gallimore following a one-two. There were also a few dangerous crosses which were either scrambled away by Beharall or Coyne managed to flap the ball off Robertsâ€™ head. Town were, essentially, ripped apart at will, and couldnâ€™t take advantage of some loose defending by Norwich. There were four minutes of added time, which got the usual derisory comments about "why bother". A lot of Town fans had already come to that conclusion, the waves of discontent can be measured by the drift home prior to the final whistle. People are voting with their feet during games, they canâ€™t even be bothered to boo now.
Another game, another defeat. Birmingham looks like an aberration, the exception that proves a rule? The performance wasnâ€™t awful, just normal, low key, possibly sufficient to defeat a team that was similarly lacking in verve. Norwich had verve, desire and a plan, they were about the same standard as Birmingham, probably stronger in midfield, a little weaker in defence and attack. Yet Town were comprehensively stuffed, made to look at least a division worse than them. Chapman was aggressive in defence, also making some important clearances when Broomes and Beharall missed the ball. Pity that he had Butterfield in comatose mode in front of him. The centre of defence was back to its usual chaotic state. Individually they were OK (with Broomes being far more OK than Beharall) but together they were much less than the sum of their parts. But the big problem was in the middle of midfield. Town just gave the middle away. Pouton and Coldicott (or at least people who looked like them) were standing there, but that was all they seemed to do. And Town played too many longer, higher balls. The one attacking tactic was to give the ball to Boulding. Thatâ€™s the sort of thing you do at junior school, not in Division One.
Back to normal after the hope of last Friday. Was that a false dawn? Or is the darkest hour just before dawn? Town eh? So enigmatic.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Only two candidates really - Messrs Boulding and Chapman. Gentle Ben gets the nod, if only because he was prepared to put his head in dangerous places (ie in the vicinity of Robertsâ€™ extremities). Tenacious, tough and did the job of two men. Not bad for a half-man, half-fullback.
Mr Furnandiz. He was rubbish last year, not that bad this year. He let play go on to see if advantage accrued and didnâ€™t seem to make any big mistakes (only the most optimistic of optimists would have expected penalties for the two "incidents"). I feel generous. He gets 7 out of 10.
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