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Gooseberry Fool - 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made by either team at half time. Unfortunately the referee did not suffer an adverse reaction to his half time tea, nor had the local constabulary acted upon the complaints of the paying public and frog marched him off to the Grimsby Police Station.
Grimsby Town 0 Bradford City 1
02 Feb 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
As you would expect, the second half was mainly Town holding on, with Bradford having the majority of possession. Town left Boulding up front on his own with Willems supporting from midfield on the few occasions Boulding retained possession. Within the first couple of minutes of the half Bradford had a half chance inside the Town area, but they didn't even get a shot through the bodies that were thrown, like old mattresses, in front of them. Really the first 15 minutes of the half were quite uneventful. Essentially Bradford had the ball but couldn't create any chances, just a few shots from outside the area, and a couple of crosses which were whisked away by Ford and Raven.
After about an hour a cross from their left to the far post was deflected up in the air. Coyne scrambled across his goal and was forced to punch the ball away as two Bradford and two Town players all converged on the same spot. As everyone lay around Sharpe (I think) tried to side foot the loose ball into the net. It hit a body near the line and went out for a corner.
And then it happened again, a conscious, though barely rational, decision by the appointed referee, which enraged the majority of the paying public. Decisions so crass, with so many implications, that it is little wonder that there was some "kerfuffling" in the Pontoon. Bradford attacked down the Town left, Ward (I think) received the ball in the centre, about 25-30 yards out, with his back to goal. He turned to his right, with the ball traveling on towards Carbone.
McDermott stepped across and dispossessed Carbone, easily. The referee awarded Bradford a free kick, McDermott threw his arms in the air, and the crowd roared its anger. The referee beckoned McDermott to him, raised the yellow card, picked up the ball and marched forward 10 yards, right to the edge of the penalty area, in the centre. That's the centre, nowhere near the McDermott challenge.
The crowd roared and roared at the referee, and there was a feeling that this was a defining moment, not just in the game, but for the season. Carbone, right in the centre, stood by the ball and curled a right foot shot over the wall and into the top right hand corner of Coyne's goal. Unstoppable, it even hit the side netting, not the back of the net, so perfectly was it placed.
Town had tried to put players on the line, moving forward then back as Ward tried to stand in front of Coyne, but it just served to increase the feeling of impending doom. As the Bradford players celebrated in ostentatious and exaggerated fashion, Coldicott, Ford and McDermott stalked the referee and berated him for something. For being alive, I'd guess. And the crowd burst into a spontaneous chant of "1-0 to the referee".
This really made the mood ugly, the Lower Stones/Smiths, which had been a seething hot bed of discontent, erupted, with the stewards and Police forced to line up in front of them. The Pontoon was the scene of some ejections and a couple of rolling mauls between agitated youngsters and the Police.
The next 10 minutes was dominated not by football, but minor altercations and crowd anger at the stewards/Police. Oh, and the referee too. And still the Police did not act upon the call to arrest the source of all these disturbances. "Arrest the ref" was a plaintiff cry.
There wasn't much football after that, the last half hour was played out in front of the Bradford supporters, with the Town players battling away, running, running, running, but only succeeding in stopping Bradford, not creating any opportunity to score themselves. Except one moment.
After 75 minutes McDermott raced up to support a break on the Town right, he received a short pass from Campbell and knocked the ball into the area. McCall raced across and upended McDermott absolutely slap bang on the white line of the penalty area, about 16 yards out, with McDermott's momentum taking him tumbling a couple of yards inside the area. The referee looked, blew his whistle and gave a free kick exactly on the line.
No-one had the slightest doubt that had this happened at the Town end a penalty would have been awarded. The free kick was tapped sideways to Willems, who for once missed the wall (and specifically the ankles of the players in the wall) and slapped a thwacking shot straight above the 'keeper's head. The goalkeeper leant back and spectacularly tipped the ball over the bar.
And that was the only Town effort on goal in the second half. A couple of corners came to nought (Ford headed one at the 'keeper, who was standing inside his goal, but the ball had already curled out of play. Darn it), and Campbell made an attempt at something. It ended up somewhere very wide and very high and can barely be described as an effort.
Bradford took advantage of their greater numbers, and the tiring legs of the Town ten to carve out three or four full on chances. A cross from their right deep in to the centre of the Town area, was cushion headed by Ward to Jorgensen, who from about 5 or 6 yards to the left of Coyne's goal, hooked a right foot shot a yards past Coyne's right hand post.
A cross from their left, deep beyond the far post to the unmarked Ward saw Coyne actually make a save. He was forced to leap at Ward whose header, from almost point blank range rebounded off Coyne's chest. In the last minute Carbone wheeled crazily around the left hand side of the Town defence before trying a cheeky chip into the top right hand corner. It drifted just wide.
There were several other half chances and long shots, none of which forced Coyne to do anything much, just the occasional routine collection at his feet. The most pressure was when Bradford lumped in a high curling cross, which enabled them to send a couple of players crashing into Coyne near his goal line.
Near the end Coyne was forced to parry a corner away from under his bar as another two Bradford players jumped at him. On neither occasion did the referee even contemplate a free kick towards Town
With 12 minutes left Pouton was replaced by Jevons, with Town playing with 3 in midfield and 2 upfront. With 3 minutes left McDermott was replaced by Butterfield in a straight swap, at the same time Raven was sent forward to act as a surrogate Bob.
All of which meant that Town played with 3 at the back and left more space for Bradford to pour into and waste time. I could fill a further three pages with descriptions of more provocative and inconsistent refereeing decisions (like the time he didn't book McCall for diving, or when he stopped play to allow Ward and Ford to receive treatment. He made Ford go off the pitch to come back, whilst he let Ward stay in exactly the same position to receive treatment - on the centre spot, and let play resume with Ward stood on the centre spot!).
There were only 4 minutes of added time during which nothing exciting happened. Given the events and stoppages 5 or more would have been appropriate, and even then Bradford managed to waste over a minute of that added time with a slow substitution and dilatory goal kicks and throw ins. Yet more grist to the Town mill.
The game ended with a further round of booing for the referee (not his linesmen who had been excellent, even making decisions for him - the ones that went Town's way). The booing was a bit subdued, but that was only because the crowd had vented so much vengeance and furious anger that they were absolutely knackered.
Everyone was hoarse, and all were deflated, having witnessed the game that probably sealed relegation. There was nothing wrong with the players, for there was nothing more they could do. Every major decision went against Town and proof, if further proof were needed, that we drank too freely from the cup of fortune in August and September.
Had the game been 11 v 11 then Town would not have lost, and would probably have won, for they were the better team for 44 minutes 37 seconds, easily controlling the assorted hairstylists and joggers in shocking stripes. This game was not about the players, but the referee. That's just the way it was, I'm afraid.
Nick0's Man of the Match
Quite a few contenders today, Pouton and McDermott added bite, professionalism and calmness to the side. Taylor was a real handful to Bradford and looked very likely to score until the green fool intervened. But the real plaudits go to the centre backs. Raven was solid, quick, brave and wise, but for some added panache, and some cheeky tackles, young Mr Ford gets the vote. You know, all is right with the world when a Ford is in the Town team.
Mr Michael Ryan. And never has official warning been a more apt title. Rotten, a word chosen deliberately and meaning just that. A disgraceful performance, willfully provocative, with decisions that can only be understood if one believes that he made a conscious decision to disfavour Town. Some described him as incompetent and that he didn't know what he was doing. Au contraire, he seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Incompetence would suggest that bad decisions would be evenly distributed. They were not. This man is very likely to cause a riot. Only the docility and sparseness of the Town support stopped a serious commotion. Rating out of 10? Well, a record, as this individual receives a score of -3 (yes, minus three).
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