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Banana Splits - Wolves Report
By: Tony Butcher
A CLEAR, still winterâ€™s evening in olde Cleethorpes Towne. Rumours abound that for the first time ever Alvin Stardust, a giant banana, a foam monkey and the Mighty Mariner were together on the pitch. Sounds like one of the "Sounds of the 70s" nights at the Skegness Embassy.
Grimsby Town 1 Wolves 1
07 Dec 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The crowd was typically low, with quite a few gaps in the Pontoon and at the ends of the Main and Stones/Smiths/Findus stands. Similarly, Wolves supporters only filled (ish) the central section of the Osmond Stand. The atmosphere varied between high, mad excitement (all those kids whoâ€™d come for the first time) and a quiet night in the pub (the regulars). The result was 30 seconds of incoherent noise, followed by 3 minutes of low, rumbling chuntering.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows :- Coyne, Butterfield, Groves, Broomes, Gallimore, Pouton, Coldicott, Willems, Boulding, Jevons and Allen. The substitutes were Croudson, Raven, Neilson, C Thompson and Mr A N Other (I got there too late to see either Alvin Stardust or hear the announcement of the teams). Whoever Mr Other was he was wrapped up snugly and didnâ€™t bother getting out of the dug-out. So it was probably Burnett.
Wolves sauntered out in a dark amber kit and looked full of very sturdy players. A quick glance at their squad brought further woe. "He always scores against us. And him. And him. And him. And him. And him". So thatâ€™s 6 goals conceded already. Anything less would be a result!
Wolves kicked off towards the Pontoon and soon gave the ball away. There then followed about a minute of uninteresting flailing around, with players bumping into each other and a couple of throw-ins. Town won a throw in about 25 yards from the Wolves goal, under the Stones/Smiths/Findus stand. The crowd were distracted, uninterested and chatting to themselves with only half an eye cast towards the pitch. Some people were still strolling to their seats, some exchanging festive greetings. Some were practising the "Buttergroan", to be gurgled from the back of the throat whenever Jogging Danny B has the ball.
Butterfield flung in a (for Town) long throw which reached the penalty area, where Pouton back headed the ball on to Jevons, about 8 or 9 yards wide of goal and probably a dozen yard out, who allowed the ball to bounce up off his chest. With his back to goal, JEVONS suddenly leapt in the air and hooked a bicycle kick over his head, over the defenderâ€™s head, over the goalkeeperâ€™s head and into the right hand corner of the goal. After a second or so the Town fans erupted, like they needed a double take to believe what theyâ€™d seen. A Town goal, an early Town goal, a spectacular early Town goal! The accompaniment to the cheers was a collective "did you see what happened?" as half the crowd were not watching. Typical Town, do the least expected thing.
Woah, 1-0 up within a minute or two. Had the worm turned? Weâ€™d been waiting long enough. Wolvesâ€™ reaction was to run around a lot, at speed. It didnâ€™t seem to get them very far though. The Town defence was definitely "up" for the game, looking a collective unit and individually sound, apart from Danny Butterfield, whose first couple of touches were very poor. But then Kennedy tried to dribble past him and Danny B remembered his basic training (ie that he IS a right back) and he scuttled back, went shoulder to shoulder and swiped the ball away for a throw in. Butterfield never looked back after that and played Kennedy off the park (literally). All of which is just a way of saying Wolves buzzed around but never threatened for the next 5 or 6 minutes. After a bit of pressure, with Wolves flinging in a couple of crosses, Town rather mucked about trying to clear (Coldicott tried to play a little flick with the outside of his boot instead of whacking it clear. He just gave it back to them outside the penalty area). Then the ambling ambers played a high pass down their right towards Sturridge, about 25yards out, almost level with the penalty area. Gallimore challenged and Sturridge made no attempt to head the ball, concentrating on turning Gallimore and winning a free kick. The referee obliged. The free kick was swung in towards the far post where a bunch of players stretched and strained their necks towards the tantalisingly floated cross. About 10 yards out, level with Coyneâ€™s right hand post, Sturridge (I think) was underneath Groves, the ball skimmed off Grovesâ€™ forehead and slid across the pitch, creeping just inside the post. Just, but just enough. How ironic, Groves having spent the last month missing free headers in the opposition penalty area. He cannot score if he tries.
The game then settled down into a pattern. Midfield scurrying, pathetic refereeing and every few minutes Town attacked. Wolves, well they did get into the Town penalty area a few times, and they did occasionally threaten with lightening quick counter-attacks, but what did they achieve? Iâ€™ll tell you those boring bits later.
Town were really getting stuck in, especially in midfield, and even more especially Willems and Coldicott. Willems was all controlled aggression, no longer the Wild Willems of Borneo, he looked capable of moving at pace too, no longer the slumbering oil tanker. This gave the Town defence some protection and also a platform for attacks. Boulding did his usual head down dribble from the half way line before hitting a weak right foot shot a yard or so wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. This followed a passing movement down the left involving Willems and Jeffrey. Maybe the little big man was just finding his range? Maybe, as his next effort, again following some neat interplay through the Town midfield saw him run onto a Jevons first time flicked lay-off, burst into the penalty area wide of goal, and fizz a low shot just wide of the â€˜keepers right hand post. Nice play, nice effort. Nice.
Them? About half way through, Rae scuffed a low shot from 20 yards a couple of yards wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post and a few minutes later someone else hit a low shot wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post. The referee gave a corner for this, though Coyne didnâ€™t touch it. Which gave us an opportunity to see premiership style professionalism - the way Wolves crowded around Coyne at a corner, giving little pushes and prods out of sight of the referee, blocking Coyneâ€™s sight of the ball, and path to it when it came over. But Coyne wasnâ€™t flustered by that and dealt comfortably with anything flung towards him. And if he couldnâ€™t get there, Broomes, Groves and Willems could. And did. Wolves didnâ€™t look like they could score (so it was lucky for them that we did it for them). Wolves players began to lose their temper, which was amusing. Kennedy, after being dispossessed again by a combination of a sliding Butterfield and swiping Pouton, got up and pushed Pouton over, as if Pouton had said something to him. As if! Poutonâ€™s a pussycat, isnâ€™t he. Anyway the referee had no alternative and booked Kennedy, which seemed to cause the referee some discomfort, like it wasnâ€™t in the contract. Kennedy later followed through on Groves, who had a quiet word with the young man. He didnâ€™t do it again. Iâ€™ll get their only chance out of the way now, before we get onto the interesting stuff. Somewhere in the last 10 or so minutes of the half Town failed to clear a series of crosses, with the ball eventually being played behind the Town defence on the right. Lescott was unmarked, near the bye-line and about 12 yards wide of the goal. He carried the ball along the bye-line then whacked in a cross to the near post. The ball rebounded off Proudlockâ€™s "inner thigh" and plopped harmlessly wide of goal. He wonâ€™t be proud for a few days. Smacked right in the euphemism it did, and it hurt too. Him, not us.
Town had a series of efforts that were all off target, to varying degrees of inaccuracy. Jeffery hit a low shot from 20 yards which bumbled along the turf straight into the â€˜keepers hands. Boulding shinned a right footer way over the bar from 20 yards, Coldicott hit the advertising boards at the top of the Osmond Stand with a swirling left foot waft from 20 yards, centrally placed. It hit the letter "O" right in the middle; he would have won a goldfish at a school fair. He won some derision at Blundell Park, which isnâ€™t the same thing. And then there were the Pouton moments. Leaving aside his step-overs and shimmies (on show as a seasonal gift to the TV audience) he had two shots which went very near goal! In the same match, let alone the same season. His first effort was, probably, the move of the match. Town kept possession down the left through Jeffrey, who switched play to the right, with Butterfield surging forward into space near the half way line. The move stalled slightly, though Butterfield passed infield to Pouton, who turned, then played a pass along the ground to Jevons, who had his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area, near the right hand corner. Jevons flicked the ball behind the Wolves defence into a big space between the goalkeeper and the centre backs. Pouton sprinted forward and smacked a first time shot a few inches wide of the goalkeeperâ€™s left hand post, though the referee gave a corner, so perhaps it was touched wide by Oakes. Poutonâ€™s second near miss was just before half time. He infiltrated the Wolves penalty area close to the bye-line, beating at least one player with his swaying hips and dancing feet, the ball rolled a bit too far in front of him and he had to stretch forward in shooting. The shot, from about 10 yards wide of goal at a narrow angle flew a few inches over the angle of post and bar. And that was the first half.
Half time: Grimsby Town 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Wolves had been very unimpressive. Dour, solid, hard. No creativity, just power and pace. As their players seemed to be of the view that their mere presence would be enough to produce a victory that wasnâ€™t enough to subdue Town. Ah Town, they worked very hard. They were organised and more than the equal of their opponents. Everyone was committed, everyone was playing ok. Town deserved to be in front, but only a bit of ill-fortune had denied them. If this was all Wolves were, then there were three points on offer.
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Weâ€™ve been alright so far, havenâ€™t we?"
Half time was taken up by a penalty shoot out between the banana, the monkey and the Mighty Mariner. Sadly Alvin Stardust eschewed the delights of a Mexican stand off in front of the Pontoon. This brought the Pontoon to itâ€™s feet, bringing the loudest cheers so far this season. Perhaps this is the way forward for the club - sack the players and employ stuffed and/or inflatable novelty acts to fool about. Ah, they tried that last year with Fostervold and Nielsen.
The report continues in the second half.
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