Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
Câ€™est si bon, (non) - Sheff Wed Report
By: Tony Butcher
A CLEAR, grey day with the merest hint of a chill in the air. The vast stands were very sparsely populated with Town fans at the Leppings Lane end, in a narrow strip down the centre, perhaps 500-600 in total.
Sheffield Wednesday 0 Grimsby Town 0
10 Nov 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The open corner to our left resembled a giant Trivial Pursuit cheese. Blue and empty. Idly gazing at the pitch a strange new face was observed warming up in bright orangey-yellow. Tall, angular, fair haired. Who is that? Raven! Another player dug up from a footballing grave. What next? David Smith on the bench for the next game?
The omens were not good, some Town players broke off onto a little group and resurrected the old standing in a circle routine, which always seemed to guarantee a rotten performance and heavy defeat. No-one seemed to be practising their shooting either, or perhaps they got that chore out of the way early.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Sing Hosannah, praise to the lord of football selection. Butterfield at right back, Pouton in the centre of midfield, Campbell on the right. Whoâ€™d have ever thought of such radical notions? Left footed players on the left, right footed players on the right. You see thatâ€™s why, dear reader, you and I arenâ€™t "in the game".
There were appreciative murmurs and exhalations of "At last" from the Town supporters. There was the beginnings of a belief that Town wouldnâ€™t, necessarily, get stuffed today.
Town kicked off away from the Town supporters and within 8 seconds Gallimore had chipped the ball out of play for a throw in. Poutonâ€™s first challenge was a return to form, sweeping, sliding, crunching. The second was equally "manly", unfortunately the referee decided to give Wednesday a free kick (the first of many petty mistakes from the officials).
The free kick, about 25 yards out on the Town right, was swung into the middle of the penalty area whereupon a blue striped individual sent a weak glancing header across Coyne and a foot or so wide of the left hand post. Coyne was a little dilatory in moving across his goal and rather flopped onto the ground as the ball went past him.
Town did have one attack in the first 10 minutes, when Pouton won the ball and released Boulding on the half way line. Boulding simply shinned the ball straight to the second defender awaiting his run down the wing. Townâ€™s midfield exerted some form of negative control over the game in the first period, with Pouton and Willems effectively blocking and hassling. Wednesday didnâ€™t help themselves as their defence indulged itself in "total football". They failed to take into account their inability to control the ball, let alone pass it accurately. Allied to their midfield standing far too far away from their defence, it enabled Town to bully them into mistakes. All of which meant that Wednesday only applied pressure to Town by knocking balls down the channels, or through free kicks.
Somewhere in the first 10 minutes their left winger went past Butterfield (exposed by Campbellâ€™s failure to track back) and sent over a potentially dangerous cross into the centre of the penalty area. Groves calmly headed away. Throughout the half, the two Town full backs were left exposed with a couple of Wednesday players behind them. Fortunately Wednesday were so poor they always failed to pass the ball to the unmarked wide players. Neither Campbell nor Boulding paid much attention to defending, looking to be in a world of their own, watching the wheels go round and round. They were probably just as bored as the crowd.
After about 15 minutes Wednesday should have scored. Their right winger played a "give and go" down the Town left. Gallimore turned slowly, hesitated, then ambled after the disappearing Wednesdayite. The cross, from about 10 yards out from the bye line, was whipped into the near post. Deep inside the penalty area there were two totally unmarked Sheffield strikers. The whole of the Town defence had pushed up and was standing on the edge of the penalty area giving Donnolly the opportunity to make a right nit of himself. Standing at the near post, about 8 or 9 yards out, he managed to head 5 yards high and 8 yards wide. The Town support, and players, were too busy berating the linesman for not flagging for offside and so failed to take the opportunity to laugh heartily at this, frankly, rubbish attempt.
The next 10 minutes or so were basically Town. Midfield scufflings with the occasional Town break that, on two or three occasions, almost brought a chance. Each time the moments of danger were created by the Town midfield (usually Pouton) pressurising a Sheffield player who had received a short pass from his defenders. A couple of times Allen was adjudged offside as he was played through, and Pouton, on a surge, overhit the ball slightly when racing through the middle. Town were in nearly mode. Wednesday were in hopeless mode. After about half an hour Town created a goalscoring opportunity, all starting with some quick thinking from Gallimore. Print out that sentence and hang it on the wall; â€˜tis true and I am prepared to stand in a Court and swear to it.
Town won a throw in down the left, about 30 yards out. Gallimore took it quickly and long into the corner of the penalty area, to Allenâ€™s feet, Allen controlled the ball and flicked it on into a vacant space behind the full back. Boulding sprinted forward, took the ball to the bye-line, and cut the ball back across goal, behind the first line of defenders (and Jevons). Campbell peeled away from his marker and, from somewhere near the penalty spot, tried to place the ball with his left foot. His shot was half blocked by a defender and the ball squirmed just past the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post and out for a corner (as Jevons tried to slide in and shoot). The corner was overhit, but Pouton sent the ball back into the penalty area from the Town right and Groves, at the far post, about 8 or 9 yards out, headed across goal and just over the angle of post and bar. This was enough to wake the Town supporters up for a couple of minutes.
Wednesday had what they will think of as a period of control and pressure during which they might have scored. Sibon was allowed to advance into the middle of the Town half and, from 25 yards out, swiped a shot right down the middle and a foot or two over. It was never, ever going to go in, especially as Coyne was always under the flight of the ball. Their crowd went "Ooohh" just to keep warm and awake. The nearest they came to scoring was during this period in the latter part of the half. Town allowed one of their little scuffling midfielders to run a long way across the pitch. There was some interplay in front of the Town defence, just outside the area and the right winger crossed low from about 15 yards out. The ball went across the area and Gallimore, about 12 yards out just to the left of the penalty spot, slid back and diverted the ball towards Coyneâ€™s bottom left hand corner. Coyne flew across his goal and saved at the foot of the post. Excellent save from the grey clad wizard. One of the Sheffield players appealed for a back pass! He should have been booked for his outrageous cheek.
Apart from a miss-hit drive from 25 yards straight at Coyne, after the Town defence had allowed a midfielder to run forward and then parted to allow a clear sight at goal, and a Sibon header very high a wide from a corner, Sheffield didnâ€™t have any other efforts on goal worth even contemplating. They wasted a couple of free kicks which they "won" around the right edge of the penalty area, which was nice. One of these free kicks was just before half time and was given away by Broomes. A player was unmarked outside the area, so Broomes ran over and legged him up from behind as he swayed across the area.
Now Town did have a few more efforts. Pouton hit a pathetic, weak left footed shot 13 yards wide after 23 minutes (our first effort on goal and thereby worthy of comment). In injury time Pouton hit a powerful right footed half volley from 25 yards which went 5 yards wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. And then there was THE moment of the first half, with a couple of minutes left. Wednesday ponced about in their own half, shambolically passing between defence and midfield. The Town midfeld pressed and Pouton took the ball off a player about 35 yards out, on the Town centre left. He knocked the ball forward to Jevons, who turned and played the ball behind the last defender. Pouton ran on and was alone on the left edge of the penalty area. Rather than shoot with his left foot, he cut back across a retreating defender and, from around the edge of the penalty area, curled a right footed shot over the goalkeeper. The ball hit the underside of the cross bar near the angle of post and bar, bounced down near the line and was half scrambled away. A Town player (Campbell, I think) followed up and his shot went way over the bar.
3 minutes of added time. Nothing to add to the report.
Half time: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Grimsby Town 0
Things did happen in the half, though there were long periods of utter tedium and laughably poor play, especially from the striped team. Unusually, the striped trash wasnâ€™t produced by Town. Just before half time someone to my left was reading the "Sun", if reading be the right description. Someone behind me was reading the programme, and someone to my right was starting to thumb through a collection of Emily Dickinson poems. The crowd (neither set of supporters) were not engaged by this clash of titans. At one point the Spion Kop started to sing an unintelligible song, whereupon the Town fans sang an unintelligent one back to them. But this attempt to spark life into the occasion soon dissipated.
Town hadnâ€™t been awful, just alright. The players stood in the right places (mostly) and the centre of midfield was proving an effective wall, with Pouton back to being Mr Crunchy, which is better than Butterfieldâ€™s Mr Pastry impressions. The defence was largely untroubled such that Coyne had to touch the ball perhaps 5 times. One did get the feeling that that said more about the opposition than Town though.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Jevons and Allen donâ€™t go together, do they".
The report continues in the second half.
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