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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
03/11 Wimbledon 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
BOULDING replaced Rowan at half time, a straight swap, no "tactical" changes. And the game was much better, for a while. Wimbledon started with a little more zip and desire.
Wimbledon 2 Grimsby Town 1
03 Nov 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
They had the first moment of danger when a cross from their right fizzed through the Town 6 yard box, eluding several players on its way for a goal kick. "Oo" indeed, you disparate Wombles.
After about 5 minutes of play, Town broke quickly down the right. It was half cleared by Wimbledon, but Coldicott intercepted, about 10 yards in from the touchline, 30 yards from goal. He hoiked the ball forward, Allen, right in the centre, headed on into a gap 20 yards out, in the middle of the goal. Boulding scurried forward and only a last ditch, sliding tackle stopped him advancing into the area and, of course, scoring. The ball rolled out to CAMPBELL, still 20 or so yards from goal on the left of the penalty area. He calmed down, went forward a couple of paces and curled the ball high and around the goalkeeper into the right hand corner. We laughed.
After that Wimbledon sporadically attacked, with Town rarely getting beyond the half way line. Wimbledon again managed to get to the bye-line, this time on their left through Cooper, and swished another cross through the middle of the 6 yard box, like some elegant curtains from Binns. Players slid on, but it only added to the veneer of excitement. Hughes began to take control of the game, by fetching and carrying through the middle; he also started to lurk outside the penalty area whenever the ball was played in. He had a couple of long range shots which went a couple of yards wide, and one which was slightly deflected a few inches wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. They were starting to get nearer and nearer, though without actually looking threatening. These were isolated incidents in the general tedium and dross.
Not that Town were totally dormant as an attacking force. Pouton and Coldicott combined a couple of times down the right, with Coldicott trying to be McDermott with overlapping runs. We got a couple of corners out of them. From one of these, on the Town right, flipped in towards the near post by Willems, Pouton failed to make any adequate contact with the ball and it was half cleared to Butterfield, about 22 yards out, just to the left of centre.
He leant back, arched his body and wellied a superb right foot volley that flew towards the â€˜keeperâ€™s top left hand corner. Unfortunately for Town, Davis flew equally spectacularly across and tipped the ball over for another corner. The Town fans were not that happy to have witnessed a world class save from the opposition â€˜keeper. Thatâ€™s what Danny C does.
As the half wore on Town sank back towards Coyne, with Wimbledon laying, in the context of this game, siege to the Town goal for, oooh, seconds on end. They started to exploit spaces behind the full backs, principally Gallimore, and especially after they replaced lumbering Shipperley with the huge Patrick Agyemang with about 20 minutes left. The tannoy announcer came over all Norman Collier and pronounced his surname as "Ag--ang", youâ€™d have thought heâ€™d have worked out how to pronounce his own playersâ€™ names, wouldnâ€™t you. Agyemang twice burst down an inside right channel and into the penalty area. Nothing too exciting resulted, a blocked cross shot and delayed cross, ignoring a couple of unmarked strikers near the penalty spot. Both were from counter attacks where the Town midfield had "burst" forward a few feet.
The most worrying moment for Town occurred during the middle of the half when a low cross from their left towards the near post was not cleared at all. The ball simply dropped free about 4 yards out in the centre of the goal. Bizarrely everyone on the pitch was looking in the wrong direction, with a couple of Town players and Wimbledon strikers all looking up at the sky with the ball a foot or two away from them. It was scrambled away eventually. Wimbledon slightly changed their style of play, with the strikers taking it in turns to drop deeper, into space between the Town defence and midfield. Typically the defence retreated and the midfield watched as they did this, thus allowing them to turn an attack. I suppose you want to know what happened to Neilsen, as he hasnâ€™t been mentioned this half. They took him off just after the hour, replacing him with McAnuff as they theyâ€™d had enough of the silver booted poseur. His switch from normal boots to silver surfer footwear at half time was mystifying. Gallimore could see him better, I suppose.
As the game entered the last 15 to 20 minutes odd things started to happen on the pitch. Pouton played at right back for a few minutes and, when Town won a corner, there was a "discussion in midfield" involving Pouton, Butterfield and Coldicott. Butterfield appeared to point and try to tell the shaven headed twosome where to go. They looked at each other and, in unison, pointed Butterfield towards the right back position. He followed their instructions and trotted back with a bowed head and crestfallen expression. I think you could describe it as the men told the boy where to stand. Coldicott then played in central midfield for a minute or two. Then Lawrence took Coldicott off, much to the astonishment of the Town supporters, there was an audible "Huh?". Coldicott was replaced by Beharall, who was sent to right back. As he went off the pitch, Pouton and Coldicott slapped hands in acknowledgement - it looked like a public statement of solidarity between the two.
Despite the flurries of activity near the Town goal, the game was still very, very dull. Neither team (and especially Town) were doing anything to suggest another goal was to be scored. And suddenly winter struck. There was some general piddling about in the middle of the pitch, so dull that people were talking amongst themselves in the crowd (and probably on the pitch too). I think Butterfield lost a tackle just inside the Wimbledon half and they played the ball forward quickly to Agyemang, I think. He held up play, turned and passed out to the winger, McAnuff. He ran at Gallimore, then across the pitch, taking him slightly towards goal, with several Town players blocking his path and forcing him wider and wider. When he got to a position about 21 or 22 yards out, just to the right of centre, McAnnuff tried a left footed shot that appeared to be going to Coyneâ€™s right. The ball struck BEHARALL on the thigh/bottom and looped slowly into the top left hand corner of Coyneâ€™s goal. One of those things, and the only way one of these teams was going to score again. After the game, as we ambled back to delightful Norwood Junction station, some Wimbledon fans were heard describing how McAnuffâ€™s shot was "coming to me", that is wide.
Two minutes later Town should have scored. A corner from the left was swung into the middle of the 6 yard box. No-one moved, except Groves. We began to rise to acclaim the old timerâ€™ job saving goal, but he managed to flick the ball well wide of the â€˜keepers left hand post. O dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. A terrible miss, especially from someone normally so reliable. He wasnâ€™t our Golden Gordon. Apart from a couple of Wimbledon attacks down the left (when they again failed to pass to unmarked players inside the penalty area) that was that. Unless you count a Willems "shot" which went for a throw in. He was alone, on the right corner of the Wimbledon area, about 20 yards out, Instead of trying to curl the ball inside, he attempted to smash a powerful shot into the top corner. It was sliced awfully for a throw in 12 yards from the bye-line on the other side of the pitch.
Which just leaves one more incident to describe. A long high ball over the top between Broomes and Beharall bounced just outside the penalty area, on the Town right. Beharall decided to head the ball back to Coyne, failing to take into account that Connolly was standing between him and Coyne, and also failing head it with any force. Connolly raced in and volleyed the ball way over the bar from 8 yards out. The Wimbledon fans groaned, as did some of the Town support. "Youâ€™ve just taken a nail out of the coffin, you idiot".
With a few minutes left Chapman had replaced Butterfield and it is very difficult to work out what, if any, formation the team played in. Groves went up front for 5 minutes with Allen on the left and Boulding on the right (!). There appeared to be only three defenders, and the midfield had various players in various positions. I canâ€™t remember Chapman touching the ball, or where he was standing. Iâ€™m positive that he came on the pitch, they held his number up and Butterfield definitely jogged off the pitch to the accompanying jeers of "89 minutes too late" from some of the less satisfied Town support.
Goodbye cruel Selhurst, itâ€™s over, walk on out. We stood up, we looked at the players, we went home. Disgruntled, but not surprised. This game should have been 0-0, as neither side deserved a victory, though we probably deserved the draw less. Yet more confirmation that this division is rotten. Week after week Town lose pathetically to average, or sub-standard opposition. Wimbledon were even less motivated than Town, giving the encounter the ambience of a private kick around. The overall performance was, for this season, average. Players generally stood in the right places, which at least stopped some farcical, humiliating goals being conceded.
If you really wish to fool yourselves you could claim that Town were unlucky - a superb long range effort and an unstoppable deflection. Donâ€™t bother - Wimbledon were virtually offering us the points with their attitude. The second half was dominated by Hughes in the centre of Wimbledonâ€™s midfield, the game required a destroyer to stop him. So why were Pouton and Coldicott banished to ineffective, peripheral positions? Coldicott was certainly psyched up for this game, with a solid, professional performance at right back. The defence was reasonably solid, the attack was its usual self - small, lightweight and unsupported by the midfield. Boulding showed brief glimpses of skill and pace, enough to perturb the Wimbledon defence. But he seemed to play on the right all the time. And, of course, too many Town "attacks" were simply "hitting it near the fast bloke". This will not do.
The players looked to be going through the motions, awaiting developments. There was no collective spirit, no discernible team, just individuals and a core of three or four kindred spirits. For certain "something" has to change; at the moment they just seem to be standing around and hoping something turns up. That isnâ€™t a long term strategy for success, though it is for certain short term failure.
Still, lovely sunset, and so apt too. Shocking pink for a shocking game.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Honourable mention in despatches for the returning, creaking Groves. He didnâ€™t appear to do anything wrong, and made some important calming interceptions. He especially worked well with Coldicott. Which brings me neatly to Townâ€™s best player, Mr Stacy Coldicott (some may give it to Campbell for his goal and two shots, but he did nothing else). Stacy played very competently at right back, even supporting the attack at times. He appeared to be back to his Birmingham form. What a shame he was not in the centre of midfield.
Mr R Harris: Apart from his short shorts, and a daft booking of Butterfield for not retreating 10 yards at a corner (Butterfield looked to be 9 yards away, whilst Campbell looked considerably closer), I barely noticed him. It wasnâ€™t a game with any big decisions to make, but he was suitably unobtrusive so he gets 7 out of 10. He probably booked Butterfield because he was as bored as the rest of us.
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