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23/03 Wimbledon 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO CHANGES were made at half time by either team, at least not in personnel. But Town came out and pulverised Wimbledon, there is no other way of describing it. It was like last season against Tranmere and Watford, but with knobs on.
Grimsby Town 6 Wimbledon 2
23 Mar 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
It was power, pace, controlled aggression and, above all, football. It was jaw dropping stuff, and Wimbledon players were like rabbits caught in the Blundell Park floodlights. No, not that, they were caught in something bright.
But the first 5 or 6 minutes were merely a bit better from Town, who had quite clearly been told to tackle more, rather than stand a few yards away from their opponents. Wimbledon were not allowed any time on the ball, or space into which to play the ball. And then the steamroller started to move forward, crushing all in its path. The crowd responded and the wall of sound started to thunder around the stadium, a constant roar swirling like a quadraphonic sound system, set to 11, of course. There was no escape. Allied to the attitudinal change there seemed to be a small tactical one. The wide players were a bit more forward, Coldicott sat in front of the defence, leaving Pouton to roam the earth, like Cain. And how he roamed. His hooking, raking tackles swept the ball back whenever Wimbledon seemed to be breaking out of their half. He added a new trick to this party piece, he now swivels on his backside as he swipes the ball off the opponent, allowing him to rob and roll in one move.
The first real effort on goal in the second half came from Pouton, who hit an attempted volley into the ground, from about 20 yards. The ball bounced over the defence and into the â€˜keeperâ€™s waiting arms, like a sobbing child running to mamma. This period of the game was just intense Town pressure, with Allen drifting away from his marker into a Sheringham-like positions, and making Teddy-like cunning passes to Boulding, the little scamp, who fair terrorised the Wimbledon defence with his constant running behind the full backs. Pouton, the Colossus of Grimsby Road, began to surge down the middle and, to the consternation of everyone inside Blundell Park, Butterfield became the mesmeric wizard of the dribble on the right wing.
It was Gary Childs reborn, with a hint of the Beckham glide. The Wimbledon left back probably sobbed uncontrollably on the bus back home, for the word "torrid" does not do justice to his second half experience. Butterfield weaved, danced, skipped, tricked, surged, and finagled his way though non-existent gaps. Wimbledon ended up with three players trying to mark him. Butterfield, the transformed man. Butterfield was quite fantastic in the second half, constantly ghosting through the opposition and getting to the bye-line, and often winning free kicks in dangerous positions.
There were very infrequent attacks from Wimbledon, who nevertheless looked very dangerous. The Town defence played excellently to restrict them to perhaps three shots. There were several moments of extreme danger, especially during the middle part of the half, with Shipperley again barging and bundling his way through half a dozen tackles one the edge of the area. The ball squirmed out to Cooper, whose shot was blocked by a magnificent Groves sliding dive. A bit later Agyemang sprinted down the left, cut inside and rolled a pass to Ardley, about 15 yards out on the centre left. His shot was half stopped by Groves, with the ball bouncing down off the turf and up into Coyneâ€™s chest. Again a marvellous block by Groves. Apart from that I canâ€™t recall anything remotely interesting up at the Osmond End. As the half wore on the Rocks of Grimsby simply brushed aside the attacks, with Todd increasingly confident, with many a surge forward after robbing Shipperley on the edge of the Town area.
The Wimbledon â€˜keeper began to take longer and longer over his goalkicks, prompting the Pontoon to hurl abuse in his direction. His response was to wiggle his bottom. Yes sir, he can boogie, oogie-woogy.
The rest of the game was played exclusively at the Pontoon end. That is no exaggeration, not one-eyed memory. It was all Town, all action, an all encompassing emotional high. But it was still only 2-2. After an hour, Town won a corner on the left, Pouton floated it serenely to the near post The ball drifted over Butterfield, hit Groves (about 6 yards out) on the backside and plopped against the foot of the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. Feuer grabbed the ball as it rolled back past him. Allen, following a Town set piece which was half cleared, tried an overhead kick from somewhere near the penalty spot. Unfortunately it lacked a bit of pace and height and it arced gently to the â€˜keeper, in the centre of goal. Still only 2-2, but the decibel levels were rising, Wimbledon looked like they were about to succumb to almost intolerable pressure, with Boulding, as fast as lightning and just a little bit frightening. Crosses rained in, there were many, many, "nearly" moments, around the Wimbledon box. A Campbell cross was flapped away for a corner, even Gallimore started to wander forward, with one memorable chest puffed out turkey trot down the wing, which resulted in a corner. Campbell dribbled down the left, exchanged passes with Allen and was behind the defence, inside the area. He tricked his way past the full back and, when 6 yards out at a narrow angle, only managed to toe end the ball slowly to the â€˜keeper as he stretched forward under pressure. Campbell, again, was set free behind the defence on the left, he cut inside and curled a cross shot in to the â€˜keeperâ€™s midriff. All action and a pressure slowly, slowly being applied like a tourniquet to the Donsâ€™ neck.
With just less than 20 minutes left they cracked. A Town corner from the left was only half cleared, there was a bit of a scramble inside the area and the ball was played back to the unmarked Butterfield on the left edge of the area. Butterfield dallied so long, dropping his shoulder, waddling his feet and not getting any space, that the crowd started to make the Grimsby Groan. Butterfield made his way out of the area, then across it; spotting Boulding unmarked at the far post he dinked a superb pass over the defence. Boulding, about 9 yards out near the corner of the 6 yard box, controlled it on his chest, turned, and had his shirt pulled by Francis. Boulding took one step, then fell. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and booked Francis. The crowd rose and roared. Who would take it? Pouton of course, the Penalty King, who always puts it in exactly the same spot. POUTON calmly walked forward and hit a right -footed pass to the â€˜keeperâ€™s right, half way up the goal, half way across. The goalkeeper dived the wrong was and there we had it, the damn had finally been breached. Maybe not his usual spot, as it went about 2 foot higher than it normally does, but whoâ€™s complaining?
Town continued to pour forward, not doing a "have and hold" operation. A couple of minutes after the goal Allen released Boulding down the left. He beat a couple of defenders, got to the bye-line and hit a hard cross at head height through the middle of the 6 yard box. It missed everything, including Butterfield who was at the far post. It was all going swimmingly, though a fourth would have been nice. The waves of Town attacks, with Pouton starting to make driving runs down the left, were still crashing like a tidal wave all over Wimbledon. They were being absolutely drenched. With about 5 minutes left Wimbledon had an attack, of sorts. The ball was played forward towards Shipperley, but Todd muscled his way through, controlled the ball, advanced a few yards and pinged a quite brilliant pass over, and through, the petrified Dons. Boulding sprinted onto the pass and approached the penalty area just to the left of centre. Feuer raced off his line and Boulding tipped the ball over him, then fell over the goalkeeper. Another penalty, and this time a red card for Feuer. The whole stadium was up and starting to bop. In the interminable delay whilst Wimbledon brought their reserve â€˜keeper on, the Pontoon sang to Pouton, who stood on the penalty spot, ball under his right arm and left thumb raised. He then waddled up and hit his penalty into exactly the same position as his first. Gore, who looked like Mark Bosnichâ€™s second cousin (distaff side), leapt to his right and saved. His team-mates ran over and congratulated him, the linesman signalled furiously to the referee, and they had to take it again. No-one was sure why, perhaps it was encroachment, perhaps the jumping leprechaun had wandered off his line before saving? You wouldnâ€™t find 6,000 people arguing with the decision. We all agreed that if weâ€™d been the referee weâ€™d make Pouton take it again. POUTON waddled up again and this time he smashed it straight down the middle, as the goalkeeper dived.
Cue celebrations and jubilations, itâ€™s so glad to have Town back where we belong (out of the bottom 3). And, then it struck us, a Pouton hat-trick. Whoâ€™d have ever thought that would happen; Alan Pouton, goalmachine. â€˜Tis true, sir. The crowd sang, and danced, and roared and laughed and watched in wonder as Town got the ball off Wimbledon, almost straight from the kick off and promptly scored again. I canâ€™t remember who made the pass, there were too many people jumping up and down with excitement, but somewhere from the Town right, about 30 yards out, the ball was played forward down the centre. Willmott stretched and managed to get the endest of his toes to the ball, simply taking the pace off the pass and allowing Boulding to saunter away down the right. He took on a defender, swayed to the right and, from a position wide of goal on the right and a dozen or so yards out, BOULDING hit a right footed shot across the â€˜keeper. Gore got a finger tip to it and the ball slowly crept beyond him and dribbled into the bottom right hand corner of his goal. The whole ground rose and rose and rose, people were bouncing around the stand, the whole ground reverberated, just noise, no-one was capable of saying actual words, a primeval scream seemed appropriate. There was an outbreak of celebratory hair ruffling, with added hugs.
Wimbledon players looked totally shell shocked, as they saw their season end. They played the ball around for a couple of seconds then lost possession as the Mongol Hordes swept forward and ransacked Rome again. Pouton won possession just inside the Town half in the centre left, with a trademark tackle. He sprinted forward with the ball tied to his superhuman feet, straight down the middle, with defenders running away, shaking their knees and rattling their teeth. When he approached the penalty area, about 20 yards out, he whacked a searing shot straight at the â€˜keeper, who couldnâ€™t hold it, the ball bouncing off his chest back to the edge of the penalty area. BOULDING raced on and side footed the ball into the ground, bouncing over the â€˜keeper and into the bottom right hand corner. Another goal, another hat-trick. More bouncing, more hair ruffles, with people running around, up and down, over and over again, just making noise. Two minutes, three goals. It was pandemonium, it was staggering, it was Town. It really was.
As the ground partied, Boulding and Coldicott were replaced by Jevons and Burnett, with Allen being replaced by Rowan a minute or so later. And still Town searched for more, and more, and more. An insatiable appetite, a ruthless search for goals. Jevons tricked his way down the left, cut inside and, from the edge of the area, miss-hit his shot and it rolled pleasantly to the â€˜keeper. How very Jevons. In added time Campbell headed a cross from the right towards the â€˜keeperâ€™s top right hand corner. It lacked a bit of power and looped comfortably into Goreâ€™s outstretched hands.
And then it was over, though no-one actually heard the refereeâ€™s whistle, such was the intensity of the crowdâ€™s celebrations. The Town players got together on the centre of the pitch and saluted the crowd. The crowd saluted the players. The crowd buzzed as it left the ground, children jumping up and down in uncontrollable glee, smiles permanently frozen, eyes staring wildly. Walking down the Grimsby Road to hail the Grovesâ€™ aces.
Perhaps an analysis is redundant and the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves. The first half was worrying, the second, shall we say, wasnâ€™t. Town played with controlled passion and aggression, allied to intelligent defending and attacking. The second half was exactly how one would wish football to be played, as near as can be perfect. Wimbledon didnâ€™t lay down for Town, they were simply out fought and out thought. Town were irresistible and arguably no-one in division one would have been able to repel us between 4 and 4:50. Itâ€™s a pity there arenâ€™t any more teams who play at Selhurst Park, I fancy a 7-2 Town win next. Or is that being greedy?
This result and performance says a lot about the players and the management. They can do it. They just did, didnâ€™t they. Letâ€™s hope they donâ€™t think that they have done enough already.
Just smile, lay back and think of Grimsby. Breathe, breathe in the air. Do you smell it? It smells like victory.
Nickoâ€™s man of the Match
So many to choose from, Groves and McDermott were magnificent in defence, snuffing out the very potent threats from Shipperley and Agyemang. Their solidity gave a base which allowed the midfield and attack to assault the Dons. Allen made some exceptional runs and passes, playing with great intelligence and his ball control was excellent today. Butterfield in the second half was quite amazing - twinkle toes Danny. Pouton was impassable, though his passing at the start made him unpassable. However, today the award goes to MICHAEL BOULDING, who was a constant menace, irrepressible, and involved in all but one of the Town goals. Given his illness in the run up to the game, his performance was, as David Coleman often said "quite remarkable".
P Rejer. Kept missing handballs by Wimbledon, made an awful decision in the build up to the first Wimbledon goal, ignored Shipperleyâ€™s armlocks on Todd at every corner and free kick, kept getting in the way in the penalty area, and was awful against Port Vale a few years ago. On principle he will not get higher than 4.6. And he has a bit of a paunch.
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