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01/01 Barnsley 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made at half time by either team, though Town did make Barnsley wait in the cold for a minute or so before strolling out looking calm, collected and warm.
Barnsley 0 Grimsby Town 0
01 Jan 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
It was just enough time for the Barnsley players to start pulling their sleeves down over their hands and do that "ooh itâ€™s a bit parky" dance that is obligatory for young men in shorts on winter afternoons. Especially when the PE teacher says itâ€™s cross country running.
Barnsley changed their style in the second half, abandoning the patient passing game in favour of direct football, knocking it longer, and more quickly, to the forwards and "down the channels". They also started to pump in crosses from 25-30 yards out. In other words, just the sort of football that makes Town crumble
The sun set and it was dark all around, there was frost on the ground and the Tykes tried to break free. They couldnâ€™t - the Town back eight were rigid in formation and determined in tackle, there was absolutely no space for Barnsley in the penalty area from open play. Barnsleyâ€™s first effort on goal came from Donovan, who did his back to goal, lift ball with outside of right boot, spin then shoot manoeuvre, about 30 yards out, right on the touchline. The spineless whinger ran in towards goal and from 20 yards out, to the right of centre, hit a hard right foot shot which went straight to Coyne at head height, near his left hand post.
Then Town broke away down the right, after Coldicott and Burnett had hassled the Barnsley midfield into losing possession. Jevons, about 25 yards out, to the right of centre caressed a well flighted cross with the outside of his right boot, which drifted past the centre back towards the far post. Thompson ran across his marker and headed a yard wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post from about 9 yards out, just to the left of centre. The header lacked power, seemingly coming off the top of his right ear. Another almost moment from the scurrying Scouser.
The game was mostly played up at the other end of the pitch, with crosses piling in, and the Town defence heading out. The ball was in, out, in, out constantly, with Barnsley making up in quantity of crosses what they lacked in quality. Or perhaps the Town defenders were playing well? Ford, Gallimore and Groves were impenetrable, I canâ€™t recall any moment when a Barnsley player got past them in open play. There was always one of that triumphant triumvirate around to sweep away any notions of home interest. And if they werenâ€™t there, Coldicott or, yes â€˜tis true, Burnett, were on hand. The crowd fell silent for minutes on end, only rousing from their Tyke torpor to grumble about the time it was taking Town to take throw ins, or to claim "hand ball" whenever the ball ricocheted around the box. They made perhaps four claims for a penalty, there didnâ€™t look anything obvious, just crazy deflections now and again.
At times the Town penalty area resembled a disorganised Rugby Union game. Twice, and both following corners, there were mad scrambles in the middle of the Town area. The first one followed a corner from their left, headed down by one of their central defenders towards the centre of the goal. Sheron controlled the ball with his back to goal and attempted to turn. He was immediately swamped by three defenders. The ball ran loose, someone tried a shot and three other defenders threw themselves forward to block. The ball ran loose again and it looked as though 8 or 9 players were hacking away at the ball, with players seemingly throwing themselves on top of it, like a maul. Coyne picked it up and drop kicked it out for a line out, 30 yards from goal. Five minute later another corner from the Barnsley left resulted in an almost identical free for all after Donovan had miss-hit a shot from the edge of the penalty. The ball bobbled high towards the far post, was half cleared and again Barnsley players were queuing up to shoot, with most of the Town team between them and the gaol. Desperate defending? Yes, but effective and thoughtful too.
And that is just about every Barnsley effort described. A couple of long shots which were humdrum, mundane and essentially inaccurate, and a couple of through balls which made Coyne come off his line and gather near the feet of strikers. They werenâ€™t even within stretching distance. There were a few more corners, but nothing worrisome occurred. Despite Town being under seemingly constant pressure, one never felt that the defence would buckle. The team was incredibly organised and disciplined, even Willems managed to get up to the pace of the game (or the pace came down to him) and in the last half an hour he was flawless, finally getting his positioning right when defending. Butterfield too improved. It was all adding up to a very satisfactory spoiling display. Could Town steal a winner on the break?
There were moments of hope, such as when Chapman (for the umpteenth time all afternoon) intercepted a pass intended for Donovan. He raced up field, passed to Jevons and continued his run up the touchline. For a brief, fleeting moments Town had four against three, as Burnett had joined Thompson up front. Jevons, just inside the Barnsley half in an inside left position, stepped inside Lumsden and was scythed down. The ball ran loose to Burnett and there was three against two. But the referee didnâ€™t play advantage, giving Town a free kick and booking the Barnsley basher. How very inconsistent of the referee, as one minute earlier he had allowed play to go on after Coldicott tripped a Barnsley player, then given them a free kick when the ball went to a Town player a few seconds later. Half way through the half, again after Town had hustled Barnsley into giving the ball away inside their own half, Jevons was tripped on the edge of the penalty area, just to the right of goal. A beautiful leap over a stray foot, I particularly liked the little hand gesture, like he was washing some imaginary windows. The Barnsley wall assembled, with Donovan right in the middle. Perhaps the Town free kick routine would work this time - if ever a wall would crumble, surely it would be this one. Donovan placed himself second from the left (he knows itâ€™s always the third from the left who gets hit in the shins) and Gallimore rolled up and hit a low left foot shot between Donovanâ€™s right ankle and whoever was supposed to be next to the Jellyfish. For a microsecond it seemed the ball was going in, but Miller flopped down late and just managed to divert the ball a few inches past his left hand post, making great use of his big, thick right forearm.
Thompson was replaced by Boulding with about 20-25 minutes of the second half gone. For about 10 minutes Boulding received the ball 6 inches above his head, in an annoying Lawrencian move. The problem was caused by the midfield dropping deep to assist the defence, leaving a gap twixt them and attack. Finally Town played the ball along the ground and another dangerous moment was created. Town broke away down the centre, with Jevons turning and surging towards the middle of the Barnsley defence. He waited for Boulding then slipped a perfect pass between the retreating centre backs and the right wing back. Boulding ran across the defender and collected the ball on the centre left of the penalty area, about 15 yards out. He ran across the face of the goal and, just as he seemed to have a clear sight, a defender ran across, so Boulding stopped and turned away from goal. Chance wasted as Boulding wouldnâ€™t use his right foot. With about 10 or so minutes left Jeffrey replaced Jevons (who had improved slightly in the second half, from diffidence to occasional interest). With 5 minutes left Jeffrey almost became our hero again, he does it once a year. Chapman intercepted a pass to their right wing back and hared forward, passing to Willems, who turned and failed to dribble past a defender on the left edge of the Barnsley area. The Barnsley defender slipped and the ball rebounded off Willems calf, setting him free in the penalty area, wide on the left. He crossed from a narrow angle, flighting a delicate chip over and across Miller towards the far post. Jeffrey ran behind his marker and stretched and stretched and stretched but couldnâ€™t quite reach the ball, failing by only a couple of inches.
The fourth official held up a board showing four minutes of added time and just as I was thinking how good the referee had been, he blew it. He awarded Barnsley a free kick deep inside their half for the merest a glares by Jeffrey. The ball rolled 6 or 7 yards forward, so Jeffrey turned and tapped it back to where it the free kick should have been taken. The referee decided to book Jeffrey, then marched forward 10 yards with the ball. Stupido, or what. A minute later Town (yet again through a Ben Chapman interception) broke away down the left. The ball was played to Boulding, on the half way line. He allowed the ball to run across him, then turned and blistered forward, running past one defender. He knocked the ball past the last defender when he was clattered, scythed, mugged, kicked, and stopped by Chettle. Boulding tried to keep on his feet, but couldnâ€™t stop himself from falling when he was free. He beat the ground in frustration, and looked back to see the referee give Chettle a yellow card only. There was one other defender back, but he was never going to catch Boulding, and he wasnâ€™t between Boulding and the goal. The rest of the game was Town playing around in the corners, wasting time. Game over.
The players were cheered off, having achieved a very professional point (there was even a chant of "Grovesie, Grovesie" - he never got those even when he was scoring hat tricks), and the Town fans shuffled away content with the solidity, passion and professionalism, but had a little regret that Town hadnâ€™t mugged Barnsley for all three points. Human nature is to always want more, I suppose, though everyone agreed that a point was marvellous.
Individually the star was the team, as a whole, playing as one, both defensively and offensively. The passing and movement shown in the last hour against Portsmouth may not have been a flash in the pan. From the very first seconds Town dictated the rhythm of the game, not just launching hopeful balls forward. It was a very measured, calm, patient and professional performance. All those dull attributes Town used to have are back. Perhaps weâ€™ll get some of those old fashioned boring 1-0 (Groves) results. We need â€˜em, and we might get â€˜em now. Sitting high up behind the goal it was noticeable that the Town players played in lines across the pitch, and swarmed around opponents who dallied on the ball. Hardly anyone strayed out of position but above all they exuded confidence. They appeared at ease with themselves, their team mates and the ball.
Itâ€™s even possible to enjoy the football now. Thereâ€™s hope in our hearts.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Special mentions in despatches to Ford and Gallimore, who were never beaten or dragged out of position. An extra special mention for Ben Chapman, who made countless interception to set up counter attacks and easily dealt with the line hugging Donovan. Chapman seems to be a natural wing back. The midfield three were effective, with Burnett and Coldicott rock solid. But head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch was PAUL GROVES, who was immense. Not only did he make three vital and excellent saving challenges, but he read the game brilliantly, easing in front of Sheron and Dyer, schmoozing and swaying past them when setting up attacks by bringing the ball out of defence, hardly misplacing any pass. A flawless performance.
Mr B Curson. For 90 minutes he was heading for a perfect score, then he went bonkers with the Jeffrey booking and his timidity in only booking Chettle. He lost 2 points each for those indiscretions so he gets 6. He was doing so well too.
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