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Daytripping: York Report
By: Tony Butcher
A MURKY, miserable afternoon in the Theatre of Moans. The Osmond Stand resembled Wonderland in May, full of jolly Yorkshire folk, over 1,000 of them, at a rough guess, almost filling the stand and corner section.
Grimsby Town 0 York City 0
05 Jan 2002, FA Cup 3rd Round
The Town areas were more sparsely populated, of course, and considerably more silent. Weâ€™re not "Up for the Cup" yet.
Rumours abounded that the pre-match warm up routine was extremely vigorous, with 20 minutes of intense sprints, jogs, jumps and bumps. These are only rumours, much like the imminent return of Oster/Croft/Lever/Mendonca/Bonetti/Dobbin/Banton/ Brace/Hill/Bestall and Tweedy. What strange creatures rumours are.
The Mighty Mariner has found a new toy - an inflatable referee with hand held high grasping a red card. Him doing various things with it amused at least 10 people. His powers of improvisation are severely limited, as the "fun twiddling" didnâ€™t get much beyond kicking or jumping on it. Much like a Stacy Coldicott tackle then.
Town lined up in the recently usual 5-3-2 formation, exactly the same players as against Barnsley. York, playing in a subtle all yellow kit had Lee Nogan up front, who was described by Radio Humberside as a "former striker", how unusually accurate of them. As the playersâ€™ names were announced over the tannoy there was a very faint boo for Willems, barely audible. How apt as he is normally barely visible.
York kicked off towards the Pontoon and immediately booted the ball out of play over Ben Chapmanâ€™s head. The Pontoon chuckled at the ineptitude of lower league teams. Then Town got the ball and we witnessed the ineptitude of a 1st Division team. The patronising chuckling stopped. It would be much easier for you, the reader, if I got the Town attack (yes, singular) out of the way. You can then skip a few paragraphs.
After about 20 minutes Chapman and Willems combined down the left (well, Chapman played a couple of interesting passes and Willems was nearby) and an attempted Chapman chip to Jevons was headed clear by a York player on the edge of their area. It went back to Chapman, who played a "reverse" pass inside the full back to Willems, who was free down the left, a few yards wide of the penalty area. He advanced towards the bye-line and crossed to the near post where Jevons, unmarked and perhaps 8 or so yards out, leant back and volleyed a couple of yards over the bar.
There is an arguable case that Thompson headed towards goal at one point, but itâ€™s a tenuous argument. Equally tenuous is the allegation that Willems had a shot. Town did manage to get a couple of corners, which was enough to raise the supporters from their post prandial slumbers, and at least one of these resulted in an exciting throw in.
There you are, all the Town "superior class" out of the way, letâ€™s get down to business. After a couple of minutes of awful shapeless hoofing from Town, a clearance ricocheted off a York forward and rebounded to a midfielder. He lifted the ball over the top of the defence for Nogan to surge onto down an inside left channel . He outpaced Groves and, from about 12 yards out and 5 or so yards wide of Coyneâ€™s right hand post, he placed a shot with the outside of his right boot a foot or so wide of the far post. Ah those Blundell Park memories came flooding back. Half the crowd taunted him, half cheered his continued run of form on the hallowed turf (which was cutting up quite a lot, divots everywhere - especially in monochrome, eh?). Thereâ€™s only one Lee Nogan, and we havenâ€™t got him anymore.
Just after the one Town effort, York had several efforts on goal, piling on the pressure, dominating play, and making those two divisions difference in class really tell. A corner from their right was swung into the near post. Proctor, unmarked, thatâ€™s totally and utterly unmarked, 6 yards out at the near post, headed down firmly towards Coyneâ€™s bottom left hand corner. Coyne leapt sideways and parried the ball away for another corner. A minute or so later Coyne made another fine save, following one of the Town players giving the ball away 30 yards from goal on the right. The ball was worked forward as York players swarmed all over the retreating defence, eventually reaching Bullock (I think) who slammed in a low shot from the right edge of the penalty area. Coyne was forced to parry the ball away low to his left, Gallimore or Groves sweeping the ball away for a corner. The corner was swung in from the York right and Hobson, unmarked near the penalty spot, headed high towards the centre left of the goal. Coyne leant back and just managed to tip the ball over the bar for another corner.
Mmmm, this wasnâ€™t very good , was it. And it nearly got worse. After yet another piece of sloppy, lax and generally casual play in midfield, York broke away, setting Proctor free in an inside right position, on the edge of the penalty box. He bore down on goal and, from about 10 yards out, hit a firm, low shot to Coyneâ€™s left. Coyne blocked the ball straight back into Proctorâ€™s path, fortunately Proctor was surprised and managed to hit the rebound 6 yards wide of goal, to the left, from a narrow angle. A few minutes later Richardson steered a right volley a couple of feet over the bar from about 20 yards. There were also a few more long shots which didnâ€™t trouble Coyne. So far, so terrible. Townâ€™s response? More of the same, a return to the bad old days of, ooooooh say, two weeks ago. There was an endless stream of long passes down the channels for the forwards to chase - all of which was easy for the York defenders. At one point Thompson did manage to run and wiggle along the bye-line inside the York area. He got a corner out of it. Wasted, of course. And that was a highlight, believe me.
The only other moment worth describing involved old Tireless Lee Nogan. Groves and Ford played a series of back passes to Coyne, which ended up being a series of one-twoâ€™s with the â€˜keeper, with Nogan the piggy in the middle. Amusing, but dangerous, as the final pass was almost along the bye line. An earlier back pass had caused some worries when Coyne allowed it to roll precariously close to the goal line before kicking it as a York attacker leapt at him. All very, very casual. The most interesting moment was when Groves, then Ford and finally Coldicott all told Butterfield off for his lack of movement when Ford was trying to pass to him under the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus Stand. The players were just following where the crowd had led.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 York City 0
Thatâ€™s it, there is absolutely nothing else to report in the first half. They attacked, we didnâ€™t. They hustled, bustled and passed. Town just gave the ball away. It was awful. It was rubbish. It was distressingly poor, but not unexpected. If Town really are returning to the old ways then playing to the level of the opposition is only to be expected. York were not that bad really, their defenders were functional, their attacks had moments, but the ball always ended up with Nogan, so safety beckoned.
The system did not appear to be working, as there were gaps between midfield and attack and, most obviously, the wing backs played far too deeply. Th e result was aimless hoofing to the little (and not very combative) forwards. At various times Willems, Burnett and Coldicott tried to support the strikers, but the passes forward were inaccurate and delayed far too long. In short, a shambles.
Still, half time is an opportunity for the management to change systems, tactics and put fireworks in appropriate orifices. The second half couldnâ€™t be worse, could it?
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Oi, Elton John!"
The report continues in the second half.
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