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10/11 Sheff Wed 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
THE SECOND started as the first had finished, slightly sprightlier but still not much cop. Some unmemorable long shots and a couple of crosses that were easily intercepted was the sum of the first 10 minutes of the half.
Sheffield Wednesday 0 Grimsby Town 0
10 Nov 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
And then something happened to wake up the crowd, which in turn got some of the players going. Campbell, just inside the Town half and making a rare public appearance during the game, chipped the ball down the right hand touchline. Sibon ran over and slid across Campbellâ€™s path, with Campbellâ€™s right foot cracking into the lazy lanky lumpen Low Countrymanâ€™s raised boot. Campbell crumpled in agony. The Sheffield crowd roared claiming Campbell was feigning injury. A midfielder stood over the prostrate Campbell and didnâ€™t seem to be offering sympathy. Pouton and Groves raced over and "sorted" the midfielder out (I think it was Morrison, who had been niggly all the way through the game).
There was a bit of pushing and shoving with the end result being a Town free kick, Sibon booked and a two minute delay as Campbell was tended to. After this incident Campbell was booed whenever he got he ball, though as he was such a peripheral figure this happened only 3 or 4 times. A couple of minutes later Sibon tried to get Broomes booked by claiming an elbow in the face. When he didnâ€™t get what he wanted he sulked, literally. He flounced about being petty and displaying a disgraceful attitude (which of course, assisted Town greatly).
At one point he stood still waving his hands around dismissively as the ball gently arced over his head and bounced less than a yard away. If heâ€™d bothered, he would have been free down the touchline. He didnâ€™t, being more interested in public displays of contempt for the referee. More like contempt for the people who pay his wages. Still, not our problem, eh. Premiership Ponces still sponging off the fallen giants.
A minute or so later, out of nothing, Town nearly scored. A Wednesday defender, Maddix, passed back to Pressman on the left of their penalty area.
Allen ran forward to pressurise the goalkeeper who, bizarrely, decided to dribble past Allen and go outside his area. Allen robbed Pressman, who attempted to tackle little Brad. Allen skipped outside the fluorescent jester (his jersey looked like a ski jacket) and, from an extremely narrow angle 20 or so yards wide of goal, 4 or 5 yards from the bye line, rolled a left footed shot towards the empty goal. The ball rolled, and rolled, and rolled, across the face of goal, then continued rolling a few inches wide of the left hand post. There was a bit of bobbling as well as rolling as it gently ambled towards the net. It would have been an extraordinary finish, given the extreme narrowness of the angle, so it would be churlish to berate Allen for not scoring.
With about 20 minutes left, Sheffield replaced the useless Donnelly with the latin locks of Di Piedi, whose hair flowed beautifully in the wind. And from this point Wednesday piled on some pressure. They also replaced another player, who had an extremely long throw. Fortunately for Town they didnâ€™t seem to be organised enough to take advantage of this panic inducing tactic. The long throw generally went straight to Broomes or Coyne, with no Sheffield player with 5 yards. What a waste.
There were numerous rubbish efforts on goal from Sheffield players from outside the box. These usually went high towards the back of the huge Spion Kop. Anything that went within 5 yards of goal brought excited noises from their crowd. They must be as starved of excitement as us. Their left winger volleyed a couple of yards over from the corner of the penalty area, a free kick was sent low into the 6 yard box straight to Coyne (there were three unmarked players within a yard or two of the ball, incidentally. A near miss). Coyne was forced into another decent save when they were awarded a free kick about 25 yards out, to the left of centre. Sibon curled the ball low around the wall and Coyne dived to his left and pushed the ball away at the foot of his left hand post for a corner.
Town in another shot shocker. Coyne drop kicked the ball right down the middle. The ball bounced once inside the Wednesday half. The defender backed off, Allen "turned" him in mid-jump and, from 21 yards out, volleyed a few inches over the bar. That woke us from our golden slumbers. With about 10 minutes left, Rowan replaced Jevons and provided a bit more energy up front. But still Wednesday grumbled forward, as the time ticked away they frittered and wasted their half chances in an off hand way. Ah, such moments that made up a dull game. Broomes, about 15 yards inside the Town half on the right, hit a clearance straight against a Sheffield player. It rebounded down the touchline setting Di Piedi free. He passed the ball inside to Sibon , about 20 yards out on the Town left. He almost volleyed the ball over the top of the Spion Kop. Now thatâ€™s what I call rubbish. The Wednesday left winger was sent free behind Butterfield and, from near the bye-line, sent over a head high cross to somewhere near the penalty spot. Two Sheffield players lurked unmarked behind Broomes, who cleared with a sensational acrobatic scissor-kick.
The ball fell to a Wednesday player 25 yards out who was immediately clamped by the remaining Town defenders and the clearance ballooned off one of the bodies in the scrummage out to the side. Coyne came out collect before a Sheffield striker could get near the ball. Di Piedi almost, almost got a one-on-one with Coyne after the ball was played behind Gallimore into the penalty area. The ball was hit too hard and Di Piedi only managed to reach the ball at the bye-line, about 10 yards to the left of goal. Coyne blocked for a corner. It probably wasnâ€™t this corner, but during the half one of their defenders headed a couple of feet wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post with a free header about 10 yards out. Not much power and never looked dangerous from our garret high in the air 100 yards away.
There were only two further incidents worthy of description. Coyne fluffed a goalkick, hitting it low straight to a Sheffield player 35 yards out, right in the centre. The ball was returned over the top of the defence, with Di Piedi bearing down on goal. Gallimore ran back and accidentally on purpose collided with the back of Di Piedi, right on the edge of the area, just to the left of centre. Gallimore was booked, there was a huge wall with 3 Wednesday players in it and the free kick was hit straight into the ankles of the Wednesday players. Danger over.
And Town should have won it at the end. Rowan chased down a long, aimless, time wasting clearance towards the Wednesday left hand corner flag. His persistence brought reward - a corner. Pouton floated it over to the far post where Groves ran in unmarked, but miss-timed his run and the ball skidded off his forehead and out. Willems sauntered over and from 20 yards out, near the right edge of the penalty area, curled in a perfect cross beyond the goalkeeper. Allen, 4 yards out, to the left of centre, unmarked and ready for glory, headed over. Very over. Groves was running in behind Allen and was furious, silently beating the ground in frustration. He stopped himself from making a scene and patted Allen on the shoulder, giving words of encouragement.
With a few minutes of normal time left Raven replaced Allen, with Town playing in a 5-3-2 formation, with Rowan and Boulding up front. There was a bit of confusion at times, with Town leaving Sheffield strikers unmarked, but our opponents were just not bright enough to take advantage. For all you twitchers out there, Raven headed the ball once, volleyed one clearance straight to a Wednesday defender and booted the ball out of play a couple of times.
As with most Town games, the incidents make it sound vaguely interesting and competent. These moments were the exception to the rule. The first half was poor, with Town looking the more cohesive of the two teams. Wednesday exerted more pressure after the break, but hardly raised a worry. Town failed to make Pressman make a save during the whole match, yet should have won with their rare, isolated attacks. Pouton was unfortunate with his first half shot, Allen slightly unlucky when he stole the ball off Pressman, and dreadful in missing the late open goal.
Overall poor old Allen looks a division above his natural level. He has lost the pace he never had, being totally unable to take advantage of the intelligent runs he makes outside of the penalty area. His little legs just donâ€™t move quick enough. He may thrive in a team which gets the ball in the box often, picking up the scraps from a big man, but Town donâ€™t (and canâ€™t) play like that. Jevons was fitfully apparent but, like Allen, he was invisible when the ball went near the box. On the rare occasions Town attacked, he appeared to deliberately stay outside the penalty area, which meant Town had (often) no-one in the box.
Thereâ€™s no point in analysing Boulding and Campbell as they were totally invisible. Boulding did one good run in the first half, and infuriated the Town support in the second when he allowed the ball to run across him and out of play. Willems was relatively effective as a huge tidal barrier in the middle, but the team relied a lot on Pouton to defend and attack. The defence was not as sieve-like as in recent months, with everyone standing in a line together, near each other. There appeared top be the glimmer of a collective understanding. Donâ€™t get carried away, it was only a glimmer. It wasnâ€™t great, but wasnâ€™t awful. A huge dollop of thanks go to Sheffield Wednesday for proving that there is a team worse than Grimsby in this division.
Both sets of supporters were relatively quiet, almost resigned to failure. It was impossible to tell what the Wednesday supporters were singing, as some Town fans advised in song - "Enunciate your vowels". Oh, and their tannoy was a bit toppy, some sibilance there, which made the announcements painful to the average ear.
At least Town didnâ€™t lose, but given the standard of the opposition, we should look on this as 2 points dropped. One false dawn doesnâ€™t make a summer.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Mr Alan Pouton, without doubt. His first tackle set the tone for the rest of the game, and he was Townâ€™s best defender and attacker. Back to his all-action style and all the better for that. Oh yes, he was in the centre wasnâ€™t he.
Mr Webster. Lenient in the first half, fussily inconsistent in the second. Gave free kicks arbitrarily, often because he heard a noise (be it Groves asking for a free kick or the crowd moaning). Booked Jevons because heâ€™d booked Sibon, when Sibon was very fortunate to stay on the pictch. He turned a blind eye to a few niggles, and ignored some blatant fouls on Town. I particularly "enjoyed" the 3 seconds when he failed to gave Town a free kick after Sibon barged, bundled and almost threw Allen into the advertising boards, then the Wednesday players took a quick throw in from the wrong place with a what could be described as a roll-in, rather than throw. He also failed to communicate his decisions to the players, witness three drop balls all of which were done in a different way. He gets 5, for the sake of it. He was average for this division. Howâ€™s that for damning with faint praise.
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