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19/01 Crewe 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
TOWN replaced Chapman with Boulding at half time, a straight swap and yet again Chapman was the sacrificial lamb, having done little, if anything, wrong.
Crewe Alexandra 2 Grimsby Town 0
19 Jan 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
And Town started the second half with a fizz and a bang, taking the game to Crewe, dominating possession for 15 minutes and being a little unfortunate not score. Just a little, mind, not much. The attacking balance of the team was much better, with Boulding a threat, linking well with Taylor. The unfortunate thing about these Taylor/Boulding links was that it meant Taylor wasnâ€™t in the box for the cross. The referee endeared himself to the home support when, after a few minutes of the second half, Boulding received the ball on the half way line, on the left. He spun around and nipped between two defenders, then dribbled past another couple, meaning he was free, on the edge of the penalty area, right in the middle with just Bankole in front of him. The ref awarded Town a free kick 20 yards upfield for a foul on Boulding. Advantage anyone? the free kick was chipped into the penalty area, half headed clear by Crewe, then headed back into the area, just beyond the penalty spot. Groves leant back and firmly headed across goal, forcing Bankole to leap across and tip the ball over the bar for a corner. Finally a chance to "Oooo". Butterfield chipped the corner nicely into Bankoleâ€™s arms.
A few minutes later Taylor daintily turned past a defender and fell excellently to win a free kick, about 20 yards out close to the right hand corner of the penalty area. He stood over the ball as if to proclaim "this is my domain" and Campbell approached, offering advice on how to take it. Presumably "you have to hit it into the ankles of the bloke on the left". Taylor ignored the Grimsby way and curled a hard shot just over the bar, on the centre left of goal. Thatâ€™s the old Grimsby way - the Kingsley special - just over the bar! Crewe were not a redundant attacking force either, as they had switched to having three strikers, with Jack more centrally positioned. It meant that each time a Town attack was repulsed Crewe simply surged forward and outnumbered the Town defence. They almost scored a third when a free kick from their left, about 30 yards out, was swung into the middle of the area, missing three of their players as it bounced, then rolled, away. Barely a Town player challenged.
A quick break down their right resulted in Gallimore being easily beaten, the cross, from near the bye-line, was hit low to Ashton, who got in front of his marker and, from 6 or 7 yards out in the centre of the goal, diverted the ball towards the net. Coyne was perfectly positioned and parried the ball over for a corner.
After about 20 minutes of the half Burnett was replaced by Coldicott, to huge cheers. Poor old Burnett had been rotten really, although he had been slightly less awful in the second half, hardly an inspiring thought is it. Around this time there was a remarkable 10 seconds. Firstly, after some decent passing and movement down the Town left involving Taylor and Boulding, the ball was chipped in to Jevons, just inside the penalty area, in a centre left position, with his back to goal. He knocked the ball down, teed it up, leapt up and hit an overhead kick, which arced over Bankole and bounced off the face of the cross bar. The ball was wellied clear into midfield, where a Crewe player controlled the ball and played a perfect pass into a huge unmanned hole 40 yards from Coyneâ€™s goal, right in the middle. Jack outpaced Groves (I think, and what a surprise that is) and when on the edge of the area, in the middle , carefully shot across Coyne, who simply stood up and watched the ball go by. The ball hit the inside of Coyneâ€™s left hand post, rolled across the line, bent around the post, then rolled along the bye line.
The rest of the match was mostly Crewe, who could have scored a few more. And, to paraphrase Big Ron Atkinson, we have "highly rated Dean Ashton, who misses goals for fun" to thank for that. Ashton was sent through on goal, in the middle, again after a Town move broke down and Crewe poured forward down the centre of the pitch. From almost exactly the same position as Jack, Ashton whacked a right foot shot past Coyneâ€™s right arm and over the bar. Again Coyne was motionless, merely flapping his right arm in the vicinity of the shot. It was as if he had tired of covering up other peopleâ€™s errors. Lunt dribbled down the Town left, got to the bye line and pinged a fast, low cross into the no-mans land between 6 yard box and penalty spot. Ashton, unmarked and in the centre, lunged forward and missed the ball, which proceeded through the area and out for a throw in. A few minutes later Ashton dragged a right foot shot a few yards wide when unmarked on the edge of the box. He must be a star as he has highlights in his hair, and he has a most exaggerated manner when he misses. I suppose itâ€™s all the practice he gets.
Townâ€™s only real effort in the last 20 odd minutes was when Boulding skipped, waltzed and foxtrotted his way past his marker down the left, whipping in a chest high cross which went right through the penalty area, just missing the unmarked Big Bob at the far post. Mere inches away from a goal. Oh sure, Jevons tried a couple of shots, but no power, no precision, no chance really. I think heâ€™s worn out his welcome with random precision. He seems to be going for the crowd-pleaser every time, the one that looks good on TV. Taylor won many headers, made many flicks and passes, but Jevons miss-read them all, being completely unable to read the play. If there were two options, Jevons would find the third way.
With about 10 minutes or so left Groves was replaced by Raven. More silent, stunned looks from the players and crowd. After three steps Groves remembered to limp. Raven was quite sharp and determined in his brief cameo and made a couple of very vital interceptions and blocks. The most eye catching was after Crewe had ripped Town apart down the left (Oh Mr Gallimore, you were back to being Mr Grimsdale today), with their full back Smith playing a one-two in the area, receiving a flick in the box, about 8 or 9 yards out, a few yards wide of Coyneâ€™s left hand post. As he was about to shoot Raven threw himself across and the ball ballooned off Raven, over Coyne and on to the roof of the net. The corner was curled in from their left, to the far post, where Ashton headed in. The "goal" was disallowed as Ashton had clambered on to Ravenâ€™s back, balancing himself perfectly upon the spine of our rarely observed centre back.
The last 5 minutes were most unedifying, as Crewe played "keep-ball", allowing their supporters to cry "Ole" for minutes on end. Gallimore lost his temper and tried to kick Lunt, but failed. Taylor was more subtle in his professionalism. He chased Jack back as Crewe broke away "accidentally" running into the back of Jackâ€™s ankles. Jack stayed down for ages, causing the Town support to exclaim their horror at the injury, and demand the referee end the game "Stop the game. Iâ€™m traumatised..by your moustache!". And you must seek out that moustache. So Mark Lawrenson. Was it painted on, or attached with glue? A stray thespian in the crowd concluded that it was the stick on variety, and he should know.
I have probably missed a few Crewe shots; there were waves of attacks and many, many moments of danger, though not all resulted in anything getting near Coyne. For Town there was some hope in the second half, when they switched to 4-4-2 and Boulding came on, but by then it was far too late. Taylor tired and tried and tried even, at one point, being the player to collect the clearance from his own cross. Nothing special about that? Well he crossed from the right touch-line and won the ball back on the left. If only a couple of others had shown such effort. We might have only lost by one goal. For his efforts Taylor was applauded warmly, and all the rest received a less hostile reception than they may have expected. Ford improved when Town abandoned the 5-3-2, and Butterfield was less dreadful. Willems worked as hard as Taylor and Coyne and Boulding were ok. Hardly hope for the future, is it.
It appears that the team may have a problem with Jevons - he spent the whole game complaining about, and to, his work colleagues. A touch of the Ravenelliâ€™s there, methinks. And it was never his fault, either. At one point Taylor took a huge chunk of earth out of the pitch with a sliding tackle. That divot made more penetrating off-the-ball runs than Jevons, and certainly tackled more firmly. Sign it up, it wonâ€™t cost much! The Town supporters were not very polite to Jevons, and their annoyance grew to something more bilious as every minute passed. Perhaps the reaction is because there were such high hopes. Higher expectation leads to a more violent reaction to perceived failure. If he wants to repair his reputation moving would help. Ah, but moving where?
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Who else but Phil Jevons? Everyone but! Taken on the basis that he ran around a lot and never gave up Mr M Willems from Holland gets the nod. Closely followed by Taylor. Not a great day for anyone in black and white stripes. The bar was set low on todayâ€™s measure.
Mr S Baines. It was a low intensity game, so not many "big" decisions to make. He couldnâ€™t miss the penalty, though thankfully he failed to apply the rules and only booked Groves. He kept missing handballs in open play and his application of "advantage" was inconsistent. Artistic impression 10 (a great impression of Mark Lawrenson) and 5.2 for technical merit. His Groves decision was sensible, but wrong. He always seemed to have a good reason for finding the easy way out.
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